Yet Another Copycat Monolith Has Appeared, This Time in California. No, Wait—It’s Already Gone

Judging by video on a local news site, neither aliens nor John McCracken would be proud of this shoddy monolith.

Sunset over Atascadero, California, where a less-mysterious monolith than the one that arose in the desert of Utah has now appeared on Pine Mountain. Photo by Victor Solanoy, via Flickr.

The mystery monolith that appeared and just as quickly disappeared from the Utah desert has captured the imagination of millions. Was it put there by aliens? Was it a secret work by artist John McCracken, known for his “plinths,” which the monolith resembled? Was it erected by a rogue fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey, who was planning on making her own movie there? No one knows! Nonetheless, the internet went into overdrive with debate and speculation. Pilgrims even trekked to the site in hordes, seeking some fun and wonder in a grim year.

So, it was probably expected that copycats would arise—and it didn’t take long.


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First, there was one in Romania, where, on Monday, a triangular object was found on Bâtca Doamnei plateau, overlooking the city of Piatra.

Then, in the humble burg of Atascadero, California, about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on US Route 101, aliens (or John McCracken, or copycats, who knows) erected a third mystery monolith, reported the Atascadero News.

But now, it seems to have already disappeared. Twitter user Ofir Ramirez-Rios has posted a photo of the site which seems to indicate that the California monolith, too, is now gone.

While it was still standing, an intrepid reporter headed to the site and determined that the California copycat was made from stainless steel. It stood at 10 or 12 feet tall and measured roughly 18 inches wide. The reporter was able to budge the item just a little bit, suggesting that it wasn’t connected to the ground. He estimates it might weigh in at about 200 pounds.

Local hikers converged on the scene, wondering, was it the same monolith as in Utah? (Unlikely: the people who tore that one down, like some odious Confederate monument, broke it up before carting it off in a wheelbarrow, the New York Times reported.) While the Utah original was admirably seamless, the Atascadero version, as revealed in a video shot by the reporter, is, it must be said, kind of seamy and shitty.

While researchers using Google Earth argue that the Utah object appeared in 2016, the Atascadero monument’s provenance was partly determined by hiker Ray Johnson, who ascends Pine Mountain each day, and said it wasn’t there on Tuesday.

If you’re headed to the site to check it out, the paper warns, “it is possible to fall if pushed and the Atascadero News cautions hikers when near the object.”

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