A mysterious metal monolith discovered in a remote area of southeastern Utah is the stuff of fiction. The tall, slim, three-sided metal pillar has baffled state officials, who don’t know who placed it on federal land, how it became embedded in the rock, or how long it has been there.

Members of the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) Aero Bureau, as well as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, saw the monolith glisten during a helicopter mission to count bighorn sheep on federally managed land. It stands about 12 feet tall, with rivets along the edges. Two sides point into a nearby slot canyon. In a video released by the Utah DPS, one official laughs and says, “Who does this kind of stuff? It is just wild.”

What is it? Nobody seems to know, but theories abound. Some have guessed it is a leftover movie prop. Others believe it is the work of an artist. Officials note that it is illegal to install structures on federally managed lands without permission. The structure is so out-of-the-way that the state is not releasing its exact location out of concern people might get stranded or lost trying to reach it.

Dig deeper: Read Harvest Prude’s report in The Stew about the management of federal monuments in Utah.


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