Giant Rock

Giant Rock, a large freestanding boulder in the Mojave Desert near Landers is both geologically notable and of historic significance.
Native Americans for thousands of years considered it a spiritual site, and they used it in their ceremonies and read in it foretellings of the future. Roughly seven stories high and covering some 5,800 square feet of surface area, it has been touted as the largest freestanding boulder in the world, though this is not confirmed by any known geologic survey.
In the 1930s, a German immigrant and miner named Frank Critzer met George Van Tassel, a high school dropout who had become a pilot despite his lack of a diploma and who eventually hired on with Hughes Aircraft, where he became close to Howard Hughes and often flew many of the eccentric millionaire’s experimental aircraft. Critzer had the mindset of a prospector, and was willing to endure trying conditions in inhospitable locations in the pursuit of ore. Critzer and Van Tassel became friends and at one point Van Tassel loaned Critzer $30 dollars to buy mining equipment. Critzer put the equipment to use in digging out a 400- square foot home for himself beneath Giant Rock. Despite the heat of the surrounding desert, Critzer’s abode was remarkably cool, even when temperatures outside pushed the mercury well past 110 Fahrenheit. When others living nearby approached the quarters Critzer had set up for himself, he became gruffly territorial, and would on occasion brandish a shotgun in an effort to ward off those he considered to be trespassers. He was also a radio enthusiast, and he set up a radio antenna on top of the rock for better reception and transmission.
The combination of his German extraction, his secretive nature, the radio antenna and ongoing World War II proved unfortunate for Critzer. Whispers that he was a spy made the rounds and on July 24, 1942, Sheriff Emmet Shay sent a team of his deputies to Giant Rock to make a raid on the cavern and bring the supposed Nazi in for questioning. The officers used tear gas in an effort to extricate the suspect. One of the canisters ignited a small store of dynamite Critzer had for mining and that was the end of him. In an illustration of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s tradition for self-serving economy with facts, it was disseminated that Critzer had perished in a self-detonated dynamite explosion in his room.
Van Tassel, as Critzer’s last friend, fell heir to his effects, which consisted primarily of the Giant Rock property. Involved as he was with Howard Hughes and in the aircraft industry, Van Tassel’s thinking moved along those lines and he resolved to use the land alongside the boulder for aeronautical purposes, reopening what had been an old military airfield at Giant Rock, giving it the name Giant Rock Airport. His wife opened a restaurant there, which became popular.
Van Tassel was something of an eccentric himself, and was an early exponent of the theory that extraterrestrial life has visited earth. In 1952 Tassel began holding meditation sessions in Critzer’s old home under the Giant Rock, believing that at that location he was receiving communication from alien sources. Van Tassel claimed he had been contacted telepathically by beings from outer space and that later he was transported an alien space ship, where he met a wise group of aliens known as the “Council of Seven Lights.” Among the instructions he was given, Van Tassel said, were instructions for the preservation of human cell tissue and the construction of a “rejuvenation machine.” The device was intended to ward off aging by stemming the naturally occurring gradual discharge of electricity from the human body. Van Tassel asserted Nikola Tesla had likewise plans for such a device, which he called the “Integratron.”
Staging convocations of UFO enthusiasts known as the “Giant Rock Spacecraft Conventions” on the property he inherited from Critzer for over 20 years, Van Tassel used the proceeds from those conventions as well as money provided by Howard Hughes to defray the cost of constructing the Integratron, a 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, non-metallic structure. Plans for the Integratron were drawn up in 1954 and work on it began in 1957. It reached a habitable stage in 1959, but work continued on it for 34 more years, until Van Tassel’s death. A domed structure built without nails, Van Tassel claimed it was capable of collecting up to 50,000 volts of static electricity from the air in order to charge the human body. According to Van Tassel, the Integratron created strong “intermittent magnetic fields,” resulting in the generation of plasma in the form of a coronal discharge and negative air ionization inside the building. Van Tassel believed that every biological cell has a unique resonant electromagnetic frequency and that the Integratron was capable of “resonating” with the cell’s frequency to recharge a body’s cellular structure as if it were an electrical battery.
The Integratron yet stands, and is billed as providing those who enter into it with a “sound bath,” in which people are “exposed to harmonic sound frequencies” produced by quartz bowls, producing what is claimed to have a deep calming effect. It is said that the Integratron is an “acoustically perfect sound chamber.” The Integratron was added to the National Register of Historic Places in April 2018.
The conception of Giant Rock as a touchstone of prophecy was boosted near the turn of the Third Millennium. Hopi shamans at least as early as the 1920s said that the events of the 21st Century would be foretold at the Giant Rock, based on how the rock cracked. In February 2000, a huge chunk of the rock broke off. Spiritual leader Shri Naath Devi interpreted the break in a positive light: “The Mother had opened her arms to us, cracking open her heart for the whole world to see,” she said. Others have a less cosmic interpretation. They believe the break occurred because of the heat generated by a fire in the chamber beneath the rock in what was once Frank Critzer’s underground home.
Giant Rock can be reached by by traveling south from Lucerne Valley on Highway 247 to Reche Road in Landers, or traveling north from Yucca Valley on Highway 247. Take Reche Road to Belfield Blvd, left on Belfield until the pavement ends. To your right will be the Integratron. Go past the property, turn right and then immediately bear left on the well-graded dirt road. The dirt road will follow the edge of the jumbo rock pile about 2 miles. Follow around the end of the rock pile until Giant Rock comes into view. Be cautious. There are snakes in the area. Bring extra drinking water. Cellular service is available at the site.

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