The 1950s Flying Saucer Conventions at an Underground Rock House

The 1950s Flying Saucer Conventions at an Underground Rock House 36

Have you ever heard the one about the guy who literally lived under a rock in the Californian desert, where legendary flying saucer conventions were held in the 1950s? It’s one of those weird stories that a friend told me at a dinner party, which I of course Googled as soon as I could leave the table. But all I found was a few unsensational pictures of a big old lonely rock sitting in the middle of the Mojave desert– no sign of an entrance to an underground home or that any UFO conventions had ever taken place there. And then by chance today, during my weekly routine fish of the LIFE archives, I stumbled upon a photo series simply titled, “Flying Saucer Convention, 1957“.

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.w1Ry4nhgvq

Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

No location or further information other than the photographer’s name, Ralph Crane, was given, but a quick comparison of the shape of the giant rock in the recent and old photos, and I knew this was it, I had rediscovered my unfinished story.

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse3.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.cMGV-ga37p

Better than I could have imagined, these fantastic black & white photographs extensively document the convention, from the quirky attendees and their campsites, the UFO memorabilia for sale, the buzzing scene that once surrounded this now lonesome boulder and best of all, a look inside the secret home that once lay beneath the giant rock…

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse35.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.m274VpjIY3

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse22.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.34D04srjPr

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse29.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.fRwElVxr1x

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse46.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.OIfN1vxnM7

But now I think it’s finally time I got around to telling you the story behind this bizarre underground rock home and how it got there– and it’s a pretty crazy story. We go back to the 1930s, when an eccentric German immigrant called Frank Critzer dug out this subterranean home for himself under the giant rock. He lived there alone, isolated from society with nothing but a radio antenna he set up on top of the rock to stay connected with the outside world.

750x468xfrankcritzer.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.3LOrfrUU-

I also tracked down this photo of Frank in his original rock house– via Labyrinthina.com

But get this– in 1942, during a showdown with police who came to investigate rumours that he was in fact a Nazi spy, Frank died from a self-detonated dynamite explosion in his own bunker. Locals had reported strange behaviour, several incidents of Frank threatening trespassers with a shotgun and suspicion that he was a spy because of  his radio antenna. It turns out, he was just a radio enthusiast who wanted to be left alone in the desert.

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse4.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.OA9cL2UmtX

After his death, Frank’s only friend, a former aircraft inspector named George Van Tassel, became the giant rock’s new tenant in 1947. The seven-story high rock had originally been sacred to local native Americans for centuries. This spiritual connection suited George quite well, because in addition to being an aviator, he also liked to dabble in the telepathic channeling of alien life. As you do.

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse26.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.z16Xdcn5gE

In a few short years, George went from living a simple existence with his family in the rooms Frank Critzer had dug out under the Giant Rock, to building his own restaurant on the site, a small airstrip, and an extra-terrestrial research centre which would play host to his annual Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention, attracting more than 11,000 people at its peak. 

Fellow aviation enthusiast, Howard Hughes is even said to have dropped by the air strip’s restaurant for a slice of pie.

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse50.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_._stcenhnE2

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse21.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.PzVo26l8a3

Tassel’s onsite research centre, nicknamed “the Integratron“, was believed by many to have some pretty special powers– including ‘anti-gravitational and time traveling capabilities provided by extra-terrestrial life on Venus‘. For nearly 20 years it became the dream pilgrimage of every UFO enthusiast in America…

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse9.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.RVfrkaNs22

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse8.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.S_WcF37AWP

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse40.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.3lCW9S_m8l

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse42.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.qQpYPHz_72

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse34.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.YuQzIxv0eJ

 Let’s take a look at some of that UFO desert street style … first, all those wonderful hats!

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse18.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.uue7OsSmWc

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse5.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.OB0u2hyHkU

 

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse7.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.XY_HLkyTRs

 

 

flyingsaucerrockhouse15

 And the flying saucer accessories…

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse16.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.3hJi09qcgG

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse17.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.kNHbrPJUB8

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse41.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.MOh0U2n9LD

 

 flyingsaucerrockhouse48

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse20.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.PLyCEYjTlZ

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse2.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.Ji37BteSPa

UFO’s aside however, this does look like quite the interesting little family camping trip, wouldn’t you agree?!

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse36.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.MbuHLrU2vD

 

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse43.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.LiW5aIZDSw

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse39.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.bSYKV2N_OM

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse49.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.57tjH-e-tP

 

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse47.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.w5TdeZhIGy

 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse11.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.Ul_URlw7Tm

The dome-shaped “Integraton” structure still survives today in Landers, California, near the Giant Rock but not as a pilgrimage site for ufologists. After Tassel’s death in 1978 there were plans to turn it into a disco. Instead, the new owners turned it into an 0ff-beat tourist attraction offering “sound baths”, claiming it to be “the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the U.S.”

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse37.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.MqrORdd5QF

 

As for the rock, in the year 2000 it fractured in two when a large piece broke off, revealing its white interior granite. Since the 1920s, Native American priests had predicted that the future of the 21st century would be foretold upon its fracture. Most likely, it was just telling us that too many UFO tourists had been burning their campfires under the rock. Sadly, the exterior surface is now partially covered in graffiti. 

848x1280xflyingsaucerrockhouse1.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.hH57cI0pP8

 

1280x848xflyingsaucerrockhouse24.jpeg.pagespeed.ic_.Itt806Za65

 Source www.messynessychic.com

Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

2 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. Great pics!!! Where did you find these??
    I shall be attending the JoshuaTree UFO convention this coming weekend. I am sure the prices have changed, but I do know, the group in attendance will be out of this world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *