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The Sentinel Enigma – A Mystery in the Mojave Desert

Perched on a lonely hilltop in a remote area of the Mojave Desert National Preserve sits something of an enigma.

Some have surmised that it is a giant megaphone, gunsight, sentinel, or even a device used to communicate with aliens. Why is it always aliens?

The Sentinel Enigma

The Sentinel Enigma-Hilltop

Others think that it may have been used to locate an entrance to a “303-mile California cave system” and “great underground river of gold” in the Mojave Desert.  Stories of the cave system and underground river were first reported in San Bernardino Sun and Los Angeles Evening Herald Express in the early 1930s.

According to Earl (E.P.) Dorr’s official type-written/sworn statement (December 10, 1934), the black sand beaches along the underground river are loaded with a fortune of placer gold and nuggets.

Earl (E.P.) Dorr

The Sentinel Enigma-Earl-Dorr

Whatever it is, nobody knows how long it’s been there, how it got there, or who put it there. The object is about 8-feet long and has been securely fastened to the granite boulders on top of a 150-foot high hill. There are also no markings on it of any kind (numbers or letters). It may weigh up to 600 lbs. and would have been a beast to carry up that hill.

The Sentinel Enigma-Sentinel 1

The Sentinel Enigma-Sentinel 2

Getting to the site is not for the meek. And also takes a long time.

The Sentinel Enigma-Warning Sign

The area is very remote and desolate. The roads are definitely less traveled and you’ll also navigate some pretty deep sand at times. Directions and coordinates are provided at the end of the article . .  if you’re still interested in making the journey.

The Sentinel Enigma-Road To Site

The object’s alignment is north and south. Here’s the view looking south:

The Sentinel Enigma-Sentinel View South

Here’s the view looking north:

The Sentinel Enigma-Sentinel View North

The northern alignment points directly at a distant hill with some peculiar features of its own. Scattered around the hill are large boulders with many petroglyphs (rock pictures). The nomadic Chemehuevi people mostly likely drew these hundreds of years ago. The Chemehuevi knew much about the Mojave Desert resources, including water sources like Mesquite Spring. They probably stayed here at certain times of the year and/or used the spring as a water source during their travels. The sentinel enigma.

The Sentinel Enigma-Petroglyph 1

The Sentinel Enigma-Petroglyph 2

The sentinel enigma

A Chemical Warfare Connection?

The purpose of the mystery sentinel is anyones guess, but one explanation is that it was related to chemical weapons testing. Such tests were conducted in secret and remote areas of the Mojave Desert in the 1940s and 50s.

Military exercises have been conducted in California deserts as far back as 1859 (when Fort Mojave was built).  Today, there are four major, active military installations within the West Mojave including the Naval Air Weapons Station (“China Lake”), National Training Center (“Fort Irwin”), Air Force Flight Training Center (“Edwards AFB”) and the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

Transporting the chemical agent to the locations was usually done by rail (train). The remains of an old rail road track exists in the pass below the hill.  Perhaps the object was a type of siren to warn troops that a train carrying chemical weapons was on its way.

World War II Siren (British) The sentinel enigma

The Sentinel Enigma-WWII Air Raid Siren

Or perhaps, it does point to an entrance of an underground river of gold. And just maybe the Chemehuevi left a map and guardian to protect the secret.

The Sentinel Enigma-Petroglyph 5

The Sentinel Enigma-Rock Face Marker

Location of the Sentinel Enigma

Reaching the sentinel enigma of the Mojave will take some time and effort. It is located close to Mesquite Spring – about half way between the towns of Baker and Ludlow, and Afton Canyon Campground and Glasgow. The sentinel is 13 miles (east) from Afton Canyon Campground, or about 21 miles via Crucero Road (north) from Highway 40. Both roads are rough and have sections of deep sand (4-wheel drive vehicles recommended).  The sentinel is west of Crucero Road on top of the hill. Google Map coordinates: 35.005612, -116.196422

The Sentinel Enigma-Topo Map

In addition to Afton Canyon campground, Hole-In-The Wall and Mid Hills campgrounds are about 90 miles from the sentinel enigma site.

Update (December 15, 2020)

Recently a reader (David B.) visited the area and saw that someone had installed an animal skin over the openings and used it as a drum. This probably wasn’t the original intention of the “Mojave Mystery,” but who knows. A clever adaptation at the least!

The Sentinel Enigma - Drum

If you visit, please remember that all archaeological resources are protected. Do not collect or otherwise disturb plants, rocks, fossils, historical objects, or artifacts, and do not feed or disturb the wildlife.  Also remember that the Mojave Desert is extremely hot during the summer. Temperatures can exceed 105 degrees. Thank you!

23 Replies to “The Sentinel Enigma – A Mystery in the Mojave Desert”

  1. Bill Hurley says:

    Hello author of this wonderful campground adventure. I am wondering if I could reach out to you about potentially being a part of tv series we are developing on American mysteries?

    Let me know if that would be something of interest to you.

    Thank you for your time,

  2. The Mojave megaphone is mis-named. It is not a megaphone and would never function as a proper megaphone. It is in fact a pipeline venturi flow Meter. How or why it got to this location is a mystery though.

  3. You guys are so funny. It is not a venturi flow meter or anything else speculated upon in this column. It does not point to anything unless someone mounted the two rocks upon which we drilled the holes and poured the concrete lined them up for something. God, maybe??? We carried the thing up the mountain in two pieces and if you want to know what it is, pay attention to the fittings on both ends. What might go there?

  4. David Browning says:

    Camp Ranger, I have a photograph of the use of the drum if there is somewhere to send it to.

  5. Pingback: Hacked! – Who’s Behind the Mysterious Mojave Desert Megaphone? | Bwisit
  6. Stumbled across this during some downtime at work today. Curiosity got the best of me and I went to searching. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier right there close. Stands to reason there would be several more sound breaking runs following. If you unbolt the two they could probably place a rupture disk in there and measure the pressure from breaking the sound barrier. Just a thought

  7. Greg Tiritilli says:

    This looks more like an amazing kd steam locomotive steam/smoke stack, or at least the core of one. The Venturi shape to disperse smoke and sparks away from the engine so the engineer could see.

    It makes sense since considering an old railroad operation left behind.

  8. I wasn’t sure what it was either till I was pointed out that there was a railway that passed through. My theory… two old locomotive smoke stacks bolted together as possibly a memorial for a train crash that happened near there. Like the two in the Cajon pass.

  9. I think it’s an anchor. Not for a ship on the sea but something in the air. A weather balloon experiment, or the testing of the blimps from WW2. The housing held the “chain”. Cable of some kind. Strange guess I know, but I’m trying to thing outside the box.

  10. Thomas Dolby says:

    This is the faulty pipe from a coal powerplant, it was placed here in memorial of the man who lost his life in the accident. The timeline all adds up, and it explains the willingness of a large group of people to hoist it to the top.

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