Mysterious monolith has northern Colorado pointing, theorizing and buzzing

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4min 25sec
MONOLITH ON A FORT COLLINS HILLSIDE
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado State University senior Harrison Frase, of Arvada, visits the mysterious, metallic, reflective monolith anchored by bolts in a concrete base, on a hill northwest of Fort Collins, June 27, 2024. No one seems to know, or is not saying, how it came to be there.

The shiny object appeared last week. 

From a distance, it’s a tall, svelte, sparkling glint. You’ll know you’re close when you see a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road behind the Morning Fresh Dairy Farm near the community of Bellvue, and gaggles of people squinting, pointing and guessing what, exactly the rectangular curiosity is supposed to mean — or be. 

Alyssa Harrison from Loveland’s guess: “A large, shiny door?”

No one knows how it got there, and who — or what — put it there. But the object, dubbed The Monolith, is stirring up a lot of buzz and attracting throngs of onlookers from across the state and region.

MONOLITH ON A FORT COLLINS HILLSIDE
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Silhouetted against the sky, visitors stand next to a mysterious, metallic, reflective monolith anchored by bolts in a concrete base, on a hill northwest of Fort Collins, June 27, 2024. No one seems to know, or is saying, how it came to be there, but it was first noticed about a week ago, and has drawn a steady stream of curious onlookers ever since.

To get a closer look, visitors have to hop a barbed wire fence, dodge a field of spiky cacti and hike a steep hill.

The Monolith looms silently at the top, roughly 10 feet tall, reflecting clouds and the rugged foothills near the Poudre River Canyon.

“It's pretty cool,” said Colorado State University senior Harrison Frase. “More reflective than I thought. I thought it was like a mirror surface, but it's actually a metal. Very polished metal.”

A scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey showing a haunting monolith.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The object discovered in northern Colorado resembles the monolith made famous in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The northern Colorado Monolith resembles the unsettling rectangle that haunts Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Similar objects have been discovered in recent years in California, New Mexico, Utah and Romania, which has fueled speculation that the Monolith is part of some sort of clandestine global public art project.

Lori Graves owns the land where The Monolith was placed, and she also owns the nearby Howling Cow Cafe near the bottom of the hill.

MONOLITH ON A FORT COLLINS HILLSIDE
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Near the mysterious Fort Collins monolith, at the Howling Cow Cafe, barista Kate Horst serves coffee drinks recently renamed with playful titles including the Monolith Mocha, June 27, 2024.

Graves said she doesn’t know how The Monolith got there. One of her employees alerted Graves about the object on June 21, but she didn’t give it a second thought until a couple of days later when a customer asked a barista, “Where is the alien structure?”

“At first it was a little more fun,” Graves said. “All the ‘what if, who did it, what might it be?’ That was kind of fun. And now I've heard so many different theories, it just makes your head swim.”

Graves said someone called the cafe office to inform employees The Monolith was made from “a composite metal that is not of this Earth.”

Graves said nobody saw or heard anything unusual in the days before The Monolith was discovered.

She’s since noticed there are unfamiliar tire tracks leading up the hill.

“I don't know what kind of cars aliens drive,” Graves asked, laughing. “Do you?”

There are other clues that at least some humanoids were involved in making The Monolith. It has a poured concrete base, which is attached to the object with the kind of nuts and bolts you’d find at the hardware store.

MONOLITH ON A FORT COLLINS HILLSIDE
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Howling Cow Cafe owner Lori Graves, whose family owns the Morning Fresh Dairy on which a mysterious monolith stands, says the sudden wave of visitors is fun but a little overwhelming. June 27, 2024.

Frase, the college student, said the surface feels like sheet metal. “I touched it,” he said. “It doesn't have as much give, but definitely a sheet of metal.”

The Howling Cow Cafe has long been a popular stop for locals, hikers, cyclists and tourists, but the mysterious Monolith has meant even brisker business for the cafe — which is now serving a Monolith Mocha.

Graves doesn't plan to remove The Monolith like some of the others on public and private land have been. The object makes Graves think about her daughter, who died in a farm accident when she was just 13 years old. Graves imagines her perched on the hill, enjoying the spectacle and frenzy below.

“Kelsey's sitting on top of it right now, just laughing and laughing,” Graves said.

MONOLITH ON A FORT COLLINS HILLSIDE
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A mysterious, metallic, reflective monolith anchored by bolts in a concrete base, appeared on a hill northwest of Fort Collins about a week ago. No one seems to know, or is saying, how it came to be there.