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Landers, California:

Giant Rock Mystery Man

by Ellsworth Sylvester
circa 1970s

I remember Giant Rock - It was an awesome experience.

One day Bob came to me ... I can't tell you the month or year ... but it was while he was working with Patton's troops. He said to me, "Do you want to see where a German spy was just caught and killed?" I said "Sure."

About four of us piled into my 1940 Ford and headed for Yucca Valley. I am sure we came in via the Palm Springs Rd., Toronto Valley and then swung back over and abominable rutted road to what is now called landers.

We turned east about 2 miles and, dodging bushes and cactus, finally came out into a narrow rock rimmed Valley at the end of which stood one of the largest single monoliths I have seen in Southern California. This was the Giant Rock.

Several military vehicles were parked nearby in the MP's new Bob Seeger. We were allowed to look around.

There was a monument of labor rocked by one strange man. I think he was a former Navy officer in the Kaiser's Navy in World War I. Anyhow, this man had found this lonely spot. He tried to make it a base for military operations against the United States. He began by digging under the Giant Rock. Here were two good-sized rooms. The first, or radio room, open to the right off the entrance to. The second room was a general living and sleeping room, maybe 24 x 20'.

To keep rainwater from flooding his quarters , this old German had somehow scaled this shear sides of the huge rock in and plastered onto its surface a cement water trough which caught any rainwater and let it into a large sister he had dug some 25 feet east of the entrance to. He had plastered the inside of this sister and it held considerable water. however, the military had been throwing cans and litter into it.

The entrance tunnel was large enough for a tall man to walk in with comfort and once was closed by a door -- missing when we came in.

As we entered the entrance tunnel with one of the military police returned into the radio room, you out of the decomposed granite base of the huge rock. a strong smell of dynamite still hung in the room. The large panel of electric controls was badly torn in twisted and wires on down. On the walls were splotches of dried blood and some bits of flesh with shreds of cloth. The ceiling was also pitted and splattered with remnants of a human body.

The main room was in disarray and apparently had been use as a sleeping room by the military for a week or so.

Later we inspected the enormous work this man had done. Somewhere he had found a huge slab of rock weighing thousands of pounds. He had fitted this slab with steel rings and cable sling and, by means of an old tractor nearby, had dragged out and leveled two airfields. The one nearest the Giant Rock could handle a fighter plane landing. At the far end of the valley, which was shaped like a T, he had dragged out a long flat strip that could serve as a landing for at least a light bomber.

We learned that this old German had brought in most of his supplies over desert trails from Barstow. He had avoided entrance or exit to the south or west.

His radio was no doubt operated from batteries charged by a gasoline engine. Attention was centered on him because the military were intercepting burp signals. Even then, these were recognized as normal signals condensed into one short burst of transmitted signal ... Later to be spaced out and read by the receiver.

As signals, perhaps to Japanese submarines, became more frequent, the military by triangulation began to pinpoint the spot from where they originated. They sent Patton's men to investigate.

As the armored vehicles rolled into the valley, the old German saw them. He retreated into his radio shack under the Giant Rock and blew himself and the transmitter station to smithereens.

The End

Mohahve IV - Scrapbooks of History
Mohahve Historical Society - 1984

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