In The Middle Of The Mojave Desert There's A Gigantic Megaphone, And Nobody Knows Why

The Mojave Desert Megaphone. Image credit: The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Hello, IFLScience here with another mystery thing that's been put in an unexpected place.

Late last year the mysterious Utah monolith (yes, we're calling them monoliths despite them not being stone, we refuse to be the only news organization calling it a big metal "thingy") story occupied the world before people got bored of monoliths popping up everywhere then disappearing like the moles in whack-a-mole. The answer to that mystery appeared to be "art installation" followed by many copycats.

Disappointing we know, but fortunately, there are plenty of other mysteries out there to sink your teeth into. Take, for example, the mystery of why butt plugs were invented.

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Solved.

Take, for a better example, the mystery of the Mojave Desert Megaphone.

In the middle of the Mojave Desert, just a short journey from the ghost town of Crucero, California (for extra spook), on top of a rocky hill you will find a giant rusted "megaphone" bolted to two rocks, with a crosshair inside. The rusted megaphone has been sat there in the middle of nowhere for years, most likely decades. The 8-foot (2.4-meter) long metal cone is cumbersome and would have required a lot of effort to put it there in the desert with no road access. So why make the effort?

The answer to that is nobody knows why, though plenty of people have put forward their best guesses. Of course, some have suggested it's aliens (they always do), or some sort of treasure map – one end of the pipe points at a hill with petroglyphs carved into rock, possibly created by the Chemehuevi people hundreds of years ago

"The purpose of the mystery sentinel is anyone's guess, but one explanation is that it was related to chemical weapons testing," Eric Edwards, the founder of CampsitePhotos wrote in a blog post. "Such tests were conducted in secret and remote areas of the Mojave Desert in the 1940s and '50s."

In November 1943 the US Navy set up a test station near the town of Inyokern. With the codename "Project Camel", and collaborating with the Manhattan Project, the site was used to produce rockets and aircraft weaponry before being used to trial the paths of model atomic bombs being dropped from B-29 Superfortress bombers – the type that would eventually drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As such, it's been mooted that it's possible the "megaphone" was in fact a siren, used to warn personnel to clear out an area before a test was conducted.

Sarah Robey, a history professor at Idaho State University, however, doubts it. "The early Cold War versions almost always have a rectangular mouth, WW2-era air raid sirens didn't really look like that either, even the ones that were more cylindrical," she told How Stuff Works

Robey suggests that it could be related to the tests conducted here, but a measurement instrument, for instance for detecting long-range shock waves. "However, I kind of doubt it."

So until someone steps forward, or the Internet sleuths get on it, we're left with the Mojave Megaphone Mystery.  

 

[H/T: How Stuff Works]

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