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UFOs and alien ancounters at Giant Rock

Giant Rock: Alien Encounters and Eternal Life in the Mojave Desert

An extraterrestrial encounter at Giant Rock inspired George Van Tassel to build the life-prolonging “time machine” he called the Integratron.
Aliens and UFO encounters at Giant Rock
Giant Rock

In rooms excavated beneath this massive boulder known as Giant Rock, a man named George Van Tassel claimed to receive the blueprints for eternal life through psychic communications with extraterrestrials.

Located in the Mojave Desert near Landers, California, Giant Rock is a massive, 7 story tall chunk of granite thought to be the largest freestanding boulder in the world. The rock, in the middle of a dry lake bed, was a sacred site to Native Americans, who called it “Great Stone.” Barbara LaGrange writes, “The fabled Giant Rock had attracted the first native nomads hundreds of years before settlements rose from the dusty ground. The granite stone and surrounding ground had been held as holy ground by the Native Americans. It is reported that the Hopi knew of this rock and joined other tribes across the desert to convene and celebrate the coming seasons. Shaman drew spiritual strength for the tribes through this rock. It is also said that the magic in the rock represents the heart of Mother Earth.”

Years before Van Tassel was communing with aliens there, a German immigrant and prospector named Frank Critzer dug out a home beneath the rock where he lived year round. Possibly due to Critzer’s short-wave radio hobby and the antenna he mounted on top of the rock, he fell under suspicion of being a German spy in 1942. A police raid was mounted on the subterranean home and Critzer was killed when something (it was rumored to be a canister of tear gas) ignited his cache of dynamite used for mining.

Van Tassel, an acquaintance of Critzer’s who had once visited his Giant Rock home, leased the land from the Bureau of Land Management, and moved his family out there in 1947. Van Tassel was a successful flight test engineer for Lockheed International, Douglas Aircraft, and Howard Hughes. He reopened an old airstrip nearby and built a diner for fly-ins.

UFO convention at Giant Rock
UFO convention at Giant Rock

In an article entitled George Van Tassel’s Amazing Integratron at Giant Rock, Kathy Doore writes, “Van Tassel believed the rock’s crystalline structure possessed great channeling power by virtue of its piezo-electric characteristics.” In 1953 Van Tassel began to conduct weekly mediations in Critzer’s rooms under the boulder. During one such session he claimed to be awakened by an extraterrestrial from Venus named Solganda who brought him aboard a space ship. There the alien telepathically taught him techniques to extend life. The next year Van Tassel began work on the Integratron, a “time machine for basic research on rejuvenation, anti-gravity, and time travel” that he claimed was a modern version of the Tabernacle of Moses. He said it would “recharge energy into living cell structures, to bring about longer life with youthful energy.”

Van Tassel held the first Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention on March 1, 1954, and thousands of contactees continued to gather at Giant Rock annually for the next 23 years to share their stories of alien encounters while proceeds funded the Integratron.

Van Tassel died just two weeks before completing the Integratron. Important pieces of the machine, including it’s copper wire core, disappeared shortly after.

Giant Rock

Victorian coffin with body of a young girl inside found beneath San Francisco home

Coffin of Young Girl Found Beneath San Francisco Home

A coffin containing the body of a young girl who died 145 years ago was found beneath a San Francisco home where the Odd Fellows cemetery used to be.

The SFGate reports that on May 9, while renovating the garage of a San Francisco home, workers made a strange discovery beneath the concrete. In just about any other city, finding a coffin might have been startling. In San Francisco, the city that evicted it’s dead in the early 1900s to free up valuable real estate, finding bodies forgotten during the relocation probably isn’t all that uncommon.

The coffin, made of lead and bronze, contains the well-preserved but unidentified remains of a young girl estimated to be three years old. The house sits upon land once occupied by the Odd Fellows Cemetery, whose 30,000 inhabitants were moved to the nearby town of Colma in the 1920s and 30s. The cemetery was active between 1830 and 1860, placing the girl’s death at about 145 years ago.

The small coffin has two built-in windows, through which the girl’s long golden curls are still visible. She was buried in a white dress, and is holding a rose in her hand. Lavender flowers are weaved into her hair, and also into a cross placed over her heart. Eucalyptus leaves are placed by her side.

The remains of the girl are seen through windows in her coffin.

Coffin left behind when the Odd Fellows Cemetery was moved from San Francisco to Colma.

The city denied any responsibility, leaving the homeowners to deal with the remains, with quotes of $7,000-$22,000 for reburial. While many of us oddities enthusiasts no doubt think this would make a great centerpiece in our collections of artifacts from the country’s early fraternal societies, the homeowners aren’t nearly as demented. They wanted to do the right thing, but couldn’t afford the bill. They reached out to the Odd Fellows, who have agreed to provide funding for the girl to be reburied in Colma.

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Historical photo of the Odd Fellows Cemetery in San Francisco
San Francisco’s Odd Fellows Cemetery c.1900. The Columbarium (foreground) still stands today.

Workers exhuming graves in the Odd Fellows Cemetery
Workers exhuming graves in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, 1933.

Inhabitants of the original cemetery were interred in the private Greenlawn Memorial Park. According to their website, their office still has the interment records dating back to 1865, so hopefully the girl’s identity can be discovered.

Update: Unidentified girl dubbed ‘Miranda Eve’ gets proper reburial

Iconic Horror Movie House For Sale in Monrovia

The creepy 1887 Queen Anne Victorian that was featured in the 1986 horror movie House is for sale in Monrovia, CA.
House from the 1986 horror movie starring William Katt for sale in Monrovia, CA
House from the 1986 horror movie for sale in Monrovia, CA

In my childhood, I was convinced every big, creepy old house was full of monsters. Every closet was a doorway to some new nightmare, black voids with skeletal, tentacled beasts lived behind bathroom mirrors. This was due, mostly, to the 1986 horror film House, starring William Katt, George Wendt and Richard Moll.

This movie also inspired an early fear of taxidermy and garden tools, but that’s a story for another day.

House is the story of Roger Cobb, a horror novelist struggling with the disappearance of his son and subsequent divorce from his wife. After his eccentric aunt commits suicide, Cobb moves into her house to focus on writing his next novel. But his solitude is soon disrupted as he discovers what horrors have been waiting for him inside.

Roger Cobb's house
Several changes were made for the film to make the house appear more menacing.

While the interiors of the house were filmed on a sound stage, a 1887 Queen Anne Vicorian located at 329 Melrose Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016, known as the Mills View mansion, was used for the exterior shots. According to Old House Dreams it just happens to be for sale (well, pending sale) for a cool $1,275,000.

From the real estate listing:

Stunning, inviting Eastlake Victorian home with wrap around porch. An opportunity to own one of Monrovia’s premier historical landmarks, Known as Mills View. Every beautiful detail has been meticulously restored to its original glory and just waiting for the next family to enjoy. This home features very spacious rooms with 12′ ceilings throughout formal dining, family room, and parlor. One bedroom and 2 Baths downstairs. Gorgeous hardwood floors, crown molding and fresh paint inside and out! Designed and built in 1890 for William Monroe, founder of Monrovia. Large park like back yard, room for a pool! Come make this Queen Anne Victorian showcase home your very own!

It doesn’t say anything about a war demon in the closet, but I’m sure that’s just an added perk.

More Photos of the Mills View Mansion

Mills View mansion in Monrovia, California

The porch where Roger Cobb cleaned his shotgun

Mills View mansion in Monrovia, CA

Mills View mansion in Monrovia, CA

Mills View mansion in Monrovia, CA

Mills View mansion in Monrovia, CA

Mills View mansion in Monrovia, CA

Backyard of the Mills View house

Anyone have a million bucks I could barrow?

House Theatrical Trailer

According to a comment in this behind the scenes blog from creature effects crewmember Shannon Shea, the current owner bought the place because their love of the House film, as well. Part 2 of this blog is right here.

Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California

Following the death of her husband in 1881, Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, moved West. She bought an unfinished farmhouse in Northern California and began to construct her mansion in 1884. Except the construction never stopped. She insisted the building continue day and night until her death in 1922.

It is said that a medium told Sarah to do this as the only way to appease the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. Many features were built into the massive house to confuse or trap ghosts, such as doors and stairs leading nowhere, as well as windows looking into other parts of the house.

Before the 1906 earthquake the house was seven stories tall. Now it is four stories, with 160 rooms including 40 bedrooms and two ballrooms.

Construction ended immediately upon Sarah’s death. Five months later the mansion was opened to the public. It is located at 525 South Winchester Blvd. in San Jose, California and is still open for tours daily.