Telling stories

The Continuing Mystery of the Georgia Guidestones

Posted by southwrite on September 14, 2014

Elbert County's granite mystery.

Elbert County’s granite mystery.

Seeing the Georgia Guidestones for the first time can be a startling experience. Driving north on GA 77 from Elberton, you pass through hill country dominated by brick ranch-style houses and barn-fronted pastures. Suddenly, about seven miles out of town, they appear to your right, rising up from the highest point in the county.

Four imposing 19-foot-tall, 119-ton granite blocks with a center column supporting an equally massive capstone. Closer observation reveals an even stranger sight. On each of the stones are a series of carvings—aphorisms for living, in languages ranging from modern English and Russian to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Babylonian cuneiform—12 in all.

Obviously, this isn’t your typical North Georgia roadside attraction. Although the area surrounding the guidestones is well-kept, with freshly mowed grass, shrubs and even a rose garden— thanks to a foundation established to maintain it—the location seems to draw few vistiors these days.

Elbert County locals are just as happy to keep their treasure under wraps. They prefer to be known as the World’s Granite Capital, not as the home to an oddity that has generated worldwide interest and controversy.

Although at first glance they may evoke images of Stonehenge, the guidestones are actually of more recent, but somewhat mysterious origin. According to local lore, one day in 1979 a mysterious stranger calling himself simply R.C. Christian showed up at the office of Joe Fendley, then president of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company. He carried plans for a large monument that a small, anonymous group of men wanted to build near Elberton.

The mysterious Mr. Christian (most say it’s not his real name) came with funds to back his odd request. He and his backers had chosen the area because of its famed granite, he said at the time. After a brief search, a five-acre hilltop pasture belonging to local contractor Wayne Mullenix was purchased and work began.

Guidestones 2Never during all these mysterious goings-on did Mr. Christian disclose the purpose for the construction effort. He merely smiled and said it would all be revealed soon enough. Upon completion of the project, he left and was never seen again.

Wyatt Martin, the banker who acted as Mr. Christian’s agent, said in an interview with CNN: “He told me, ‘If you were to tell who put the money up for this, it wouldn’t be a mystery any more, and no one would come and read it.’ That had to be part of the attraction, to get people to come and read his 10 rules that he came up with.”

More than two decades later, the Georgia Guidestones remain steeped in mystery. Following precise specifications, the upright stones are aligned to follow the trajectory of the moon during the course of a year. A slot cut into the center stone aligns with the position of the rising sun at the summer and winter solstices. During the equinoxes, the noon sun shines through to indicate midday. A small hole in the overhead capstone serves as a crude sun calendar.

Since the site was unveiled to the public in a ceremony attended by more than 400 people in 1980, it has been the object of both wonder and controversy. Local ministers denounced it as satanic. Wiccans have traveled from near and far to hold pagan ceremonies.

The Guidestones have often been the target of conspiracy theorists.

The Guidestones have often been the target of conspiracy theorists.

A more down to earth theory is the Guidestones, built during the Cold War, are a guide for civilization’s future in the aftermath of a nuclear attack. Among the advice carved into their granite sides is a call to “unite humanity with a living new language” and a call to “Maintain humanity under 500 million in perpetual balance with nature.” Other sayings are straightforward maxims for living— “Avoid petty laws and useless officials.”

Over the years the stones have been often defaced with graffiti, but local officials concede it’s the county’s most visited attraction. Last year there was talk of staging a festival around the Guidestones to attract more visitors to this small sparsely populated county where unemployment runs high. So far nothing has come of the idea due to prohibitions against charging admission to the site or constructing any types of building. Although there has been considerable effort by researchers to ferret out the secret of the Guidelines, locals hope the mystery stays just that — a mystery. Take away the doubt and the wonder and you remove a big reason for people coming here.

So the Georgia Guidestones continue their lonely watch from this hill in Northeast Georgia and keep their secrets.


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