Two men have taken credit for removing the mysterious Utah monolith

They removed it for environmental reasons.

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3 min read

It was there... but now it's gone.

Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau

Two men have taken credit for removing the strange monolith that's captured the internet's attention since being spotted in the Utah desert last week. As mysteriously as it showed up, the strange monolith disappeared, and Sylvan Christensen and Andy Lewis now say they're among those responsible, according to reports. 

"We removed the Utah monolith because there are clear precedents for how we share and standardize the use of our public lands, natural wildlife, native plants, fresh water sources, and human impacts upon them," Lewis and Christensen said in a statement sent to Grit Daily.

Lewis, famous for slacklining -- a sport similar to tightrope walking typically practiced outdoors -- uploaded a video to his YouTube channel of him and a group of friends taking it apart and moving it.


Michael James Newlands, a friend of adventure photographer Ross Bernards, used a smartphone to snap this photo of the monolith being disassembled on Friday night. 

Michael James Newlands

The pair's revelation comes after Colorado adventure photographer Ross Bernards reported visiting the structure on Friday night and seeing four men arrive and dismantle it. Bernards documented the structure's presence, and then its absence, on Instagram. He also shared images snapped by a friend of the men taking it down.   

"Four guys rounded the corner and two of them walked forward," Bernards writes. "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.'" 

As the men walked off with the pieces, one of them said, 'Leave no trace,'" Bernards told The New York Times. They then carted it off with a wheelbarrow, he added. 

Hundreds of people reportedly traveled to the remote desert site to see and touch the 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque structure. In the process, they also drove over plants and left human waste behind. 

The Utah Department of Public Safety initially discovered the object in a remote region of southern Utah while counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter.

"I'd say it's probably between 10 and 12 feet high," pilot Bret Hutchings told Utah broadcaster KSL, back when it was initially discovered. "We were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then I guess the rest of us make a run for it."

But in the wake of the discovery, dedicated folks on Reddit made an attempt to uncover the origins of the monolith. First they located the monolith on Google Earth, then they used historical imaging data in an attempt to discover exactly when the object first appeared in the desert. Using this data, they discovered that the monolith first appeared between August 2015 and October 2016. 

Around that time, sci-fi drama Westworld was filming in a nearby location, which has led many to speculate that the monolith is an old movie prop.

Considering the location had also been used in a number of other TV shows and movies -- from recent films like 127 Hours and Mission: Impossible 2, to classic westerns in the 1940s and 1960s -- it's a possibility. Regardless, the monolith is gone. 

Correction, Dec. 1: The photo of the men removing the monolith was taken by Michael James Newlands.