A Georgia roadside attraction that became such a beacon for online conspiracy theorists it got The History Channel to take crackpot shots at it, is now devastated after an unknown person or persons reportedly blew up part of the structure Wednesday morning.
Local reports said at least one of the site’s four pillars were blown into rubble after those living nearby heard a massive explosion around 4 a.m. The area NBC affiliate WYFF News 4 reported the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and Elbert County Sheriff’s office preliminary investigation found that an explosion damaged part of the structure. Investigators told reporters that so far the information suggests the perpetrators used an explosive device.
The Elbert County Chamber of Commerce wrote on its website the granite guidestones are located seven miles north of the town of Elberton. The stone slabs contain 10 messages written in archaic languages such as Sanskrit, Classical Greek as well as modern languages like English, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, Arabic, and Hebrew. Some suspect the messages were created as guidelines for living after an apocalypse.
Georgia law enforcement posted video of the alleged bombing on its Twitter page.
The blocks are also oriented to the major dates in the solar and lunar cycles, much like the ancient British Stonehenge, though the American version was only constructed in the 1980s. The site was commissioned by a man who went under the pseudonym R.C. Christian, according to local videos talking about the site. Not much is known about who helped commission or finance the guidestones, nor their intent of the construction.
Who could hate what amounts to a roadside attraction? Well, there’s some on the religious right who think the stones are somehow evidence of satanic worship. Kandiss Taylor, a far, far, far-right candidate for Georgia governor who recently lost the Republican primary with just 3.4% of the vote (though she has still not conceded) made bringing “the Satanic Regime to its knees” by demolishing the Georgia Guidestones a major part of her supposed platform. She was, of course, ecstatic to see the roadside attraction go boom.
Despite nutters on the internet falling for manic conspiracy theories, the destruction is a big loss for those locals who kept them as a piece of local history. Executive VP of the Elbertson Granite Association Chris Kubas told Fox5 Atlanta that “These were a tourist attraction, and it was not uncommon for people around the world to be up here at any given time,” adding that the precision of inscribing the messages on the stones was “utter craftsmanship that you won’t find anywhere else.”
So what was written on these guidestones that made some conspiracy theorists so enflamed? Some conspiracists claim the line “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature” advocates for “population control,” another well-worn conspiracy perpetuated online. The rocks also include lines such as:
Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
Even if some of the messages are a little strange and eugenics-y, they’re mostly rather harmless platitudes of kindness and social duty. The weird nature of the site on the Georgia hillside had even attracted attention from entertainers like John Oliver who during his May segment on “Rocks” made fun of Kandiss Taylor and The History Channel, saying “I could point out the ridiculousness of thinking some sort of global illuminati wrote down their plot to kill off 95% of humanity on a giant granite post-it note and left their plans where no conservative could see it—rural Georgia.”
Update 07/07/22 at 12:20 p.m. ET: This article was amended to include video from George law enforcement and elaborate on the conspiracies surrounding the site.