UFOs and OHVs at Giant Rock

The rock has been a Native American spiritual site for thousands of years, used by Native American tribes in ceremonies and prophecy. Hopi shamans have suspected since the 1920s that the future of the 21st century would be foretold at the Giant Rock, based on how the rock cracked.

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The modern story of the boulder begins in the 1930s, when a German immigrant and miner named Frank Critzer dug out a 400 square foot home for himself directly beneath the giant rock. Critzer was a radio enthusiast, and set up a radio antenna on top of the rock for better reception. Unfortunately, his German origin and radio antenna led to suspicions of his being a spy during World War II and a police raid was made on his cavern. Legend holds that when authorities attempted to extricate Critzer by shooting tear gas canisters into his cave, one accidentally ignited a small store of explosives (for mining) and blew the peculiar loner to smithereens. As it turns out, Critzer was not a spy after all, but just an eccentric who wanted to be left alone to live, quite literally, under a rock.

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Something about Critzer’s death resonated with his friend and pilot George Von Tassel. He went to the boulder and reopened an old airfield at the Giant Rock in the 1950s, naming it Giant Rock Airport. Van Tassel’s war friend Howard Hughes, for whom Van Tassel was a test pilot, is said to have flown there just for a slice of Van Tassel’s wife’s pie. Van Tassel was also a believer in alien life. In 1952 Tassel began holding meditation sessions in Critzer’s old home under the Giant Rock. Here, Van Tassel believed he was receiving vital information from alien sources for the construction of a fantastic machine. Van Tassel claimed to have been transported to an alien space ship, where he met a wise group of aliens known as the “Council of Seven Lights.” Tassel said this extra-terrestrial meeting inspired the construction of a building/device which was to be a “rejuvenation machine.” It was dubbed “The Integratron.”

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Flying Saucer Convention, 1957. Ralph Crane, Life Magazine archives

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Flying Saucer Convention, 1957. Ralph Crane, Life Magazine archives

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Flying Saucer Convention, 1957. Ralph Crane, Life Magazine archives

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Flying Saucer Convention, 1957. Ralph Crane, Life Magazine archives

Van Tassel held popular UFO conventions known as the “Giant Rock Spacecraft Conventions” on his property for over 20 years to help raise money for the Integratron’s construction. The domed structure, built without nails over a period of 34 years, was said to be capable of collecting up to 50,000 volts of static electricity from the air in order to charge the human body. Unfortunately, Tassel suffered a heart attack before its “final” completion, giving rise to a host of conspiracy theories. Today it is a tourist attraction and spiritual centre which gives visitors a relaxing sound bath in an “acoustically perfect structure”.

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The Integratron

Today it is a popular OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) Area and on my visit I met the lovely Joe Wesley Smith who had stopped at the rock to assess the flat tire of his dirt bike. You can see behind him in one image and over the rock in the very first image that unfortunately the rock is now daubed in graffiti that ‘Friends of Giant rock’ are in a constant battle to remove.

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Joe ‘Wesley’ Smith

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Joe ‘Wesley’ Smith

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Wesley riding up to Giant Rock