(Credit: Ross Bernards Instagram)


Explained: What really happened to the missing Utah monolith


The world has been gripped by the mysterious tale of the Utah monolith over the last week but, at long last, the mystery seems to have been solved. Last week state officials in Utah discovered a strange, bright monolith in the middle of the desert — if this was an isolated incident it would still be incredibly unusual — but what happened next is downright bizarre. The monolith then vanished and reappeared on the complete opposite side of the world. It disappeared from Utah five days before a near-identical structure was somehow spotted in Romania, roughly 6,000 miles away from the original site.

Following the discovery of the monolith in Utah, people began speculating and some believed it may have been planted by an obsessive fan of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. A monolith appears in the sci-fi classic which makes this a plausible theory, but one that lacks any substance behind it. Another more concrete theory appeared in The New York Times which seemingly has more legs than the Kubrick discussion. They believe the structure was planted roughly three years ago and linked the monolith with somebody associated with the late sculptor, monolith maker and sci-fi fanatic John McCracken.

McCracken passed away in 2011 from a brain tumour and left no indication about leaving behind any work like the one recently discovered. That said, his son has recalled that his father once told him that he’d one day like to leave his artwork in remote locations to be discovered later on. However, McCracken passed away years before it could have been plausibly planted and, more importantly, why has it disappeared?

Although the planting of the monolith still remains a complete mystery, there seems to finally be an explanation as to why it is no longer in Utah. Instagram user Ross Bernards took to the platform to post photos of a group taking down the monolith and he explained the events in detail. “If you’re interested in what exactly happened to the monolith keep reading because I was literally there,” he starts by writing. “On Friday, three friends and myself drove the six hours down to the middle of nowhere in Utah and got to the “trailhead” around 7 PM after passing a sea of cars on our way in.

“We passed one group as we hiked towards the mysterious monolith, while another group was there when we arrived, and they left pretty quick after we got there. For the next hour and 40 minutes, we had the place to ourselves. I had just finished taking some photos of the monolith under the moonlight and was taking a break, thinking about settings I needed to change for my last battery of drone flight when we heard some voices coming up the canyon. We were contemplating packing up our things as they walked up, so they could enjoy it for themselves like we did. At this point I looked down at my watch and it was 8:40 PM.

“Four guys rounded the corner and 2 of them walked forward. They gave a couple of pushes on the monolith and one of them said ‘You better have got your pictures’. He then gave it a big push, and it went over, leaning to one side. He yelled back to his other friends that they didn’t need the tools. The other guy with him at the monolith then said ‘this is why you don’t leave trash in the desert’. Then all four of them came up and pushed it almost to the ground on one side, before they decided push it back the other when it then popped out and landed on the ground with a loud bang. They quickly broke it apart and as they were carrying to the wheelbarrow that they had brought one of them looked back at us all and said ‘Leave no trace’. That was at 8:48.”

Bernards then concluded: “If you’re asking why we didn’t stop them well, they were right to take it out. We stayed the night and the next day hiked to a hill top overlooking the area where we saw at least 70 different cars (and a plane) in and out. Cars parking everywhere in the delicate desert landscape. Nobody following a path or each other. We could literally see people trying to approach it from every direction to try and reach it, permanently altering the untouched landscape. Mother Nature is an artist, it’s best to leave the art in the wild to her.”

Check out his photos from the Utah desert, below.