College of Universal Wisdom, Dorris Andre Van Tassel, Eva Meek Van Tassel, George Wellington Van Tassel, Giant Rock
At 2 AM on August 24, 1953, George Wellington Van Tassel was sleeping outside the Giant Rock in the Mojave Desert with his first wife*, Eva, when 3 extraterrestrials woke him up. The leader, Solganda, spoke English and convinced George to take a ride on the flying saucer parked nearby. Onboard, George encountered three additional extraterrestrials who communicated telepathically in “Omnibeam,” as they were mutes. In total, George estimated that Solganda and the other men from Venus were on the ground for 20 minutes. George took a flight on their saucer, and it was the first and only time he saw them. This encounter started George’s life work: the Integratron.
The Integratron is a 16-sided all-wood dome structure with 16 small windows built without nails, screws, or any metal (joinery). Van Tassel used Douglas fir to create glulam (glued laminate wood) ribs connected with dowel beams. These beams were designed to spin the structure and generate electrostatic energy in order to facilitate time travel and to act as a rejuvenation machine that would extend the human life to 300-1500 years. According to Solganda, the largest hurdle facing humans was our limited life expectancy. If we could live longer, we could accomplish so much more. Unfortunately, George would not live to see the Integratron completed.
George W. Van Tassel was a Ufologist, writer, and self-ordained minister. Born in Ohio on March 12, 1910, George dropped out of high school but had a fascination with aircraft. He ventured out to Yuma, Arizona, where he married his first wife Eva Meek on January 31, 1932. They settled in California. Together with their three daughters, the Van Tassel family moved out to the Giant Rock in 1947.
The Giant Rock is a massive natural rock structure in the Mojave Desert. German American Frank Kritzer squatted under the rock and made it his home. The hermit believed there were glass-lined tunnels underneath the rock and attempted to locate while managing an emergency airstrip, often called an airport. (Note: See forthcoming blog on him) After Kritzer was blown up and killed on July 25, 1942, George and family took up residency and began running the airport.
George and Eva took advantage of the paranormal-friendly California landscape. They added the Come on Inn [sic] café, which served Eva’s famous hamburgers. On April 4, 1953, the 1st Annual Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention took place alongside the Giant Rock. From 1953-1977, hundreds to thousands of UFO enthusiasts ventured out to the desert, communing with like-minded people. The gatherings were popular yet a trigger point for one of Van Tassel’s neighbors.
From 1954 and up until his death by a heart attack, Van Tassel was under the watchful eye of the FBI—all thanks to one of his neighbors. According to the unsealed, though redacted, FBI file, the Bureau checked in on Van Tassel sporadically of the years. Much of what we know about George comes from one such visit.
FBI Inspector Joseph Sizoo spoke with Eva and gleaned some background information on George. She informed Insp. Sizoo that George was three months shy of graduating from high school. Although George was not a pilot, he did hold a mechanics certificate. A lot of George’s employment history is hearsay and sketchy. However, we do know he was captivated with extraterrestrials.
The 3-4 story Integratron, located 3 miles south of the Giant Rock, was meant to be the hub of the 10-acre College of Universal Wisdom, which was part of the UFO cult Ministry of Universal Wisdom. Originally called the Brotherhood of Cosmic Christ, George’s church incorporated sermons from the Bible with extraterrestrial high thinking concepts. These weekly sermons actually legitimized George’s behavior and formed the basis of exoneration of anti-American activity.
Eva died on May 11, 1974, and by the time George died he was supposedly remarried to Dorris Andre Van Tassel. Dorris attempted to keep the church going after George’s death but ultimately sold the property in 1987 to Emile Canning and Diana Cushing, who held onto the property until 2000 when three sisters (Joanne, Nancy, and Patty Karl) purchased the property and transformed the dome into a healing center and sound bath.
Shortly after George’s death, all equipment aimed at reversing the aging process and facilitating time travel disappeared. No one has ever found the tunnels underneath the Giant Rock. And the Integratron has become a local tourist attraction for day trippers heading out into the desert. On April 23, 2018, the Integratron was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Both the Giant Rock and the Integratron are ensconced in UFO lore and should be on your bucket road trip itinerary.
* I was unable to locate any official documents showing that George married Dorris in 1975. However, his obituary listed her as his surviving 2nd wife. His Find-A-Grave page only identifies Eva as his wife.
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