Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What is this place?

Driving I-8 west out of Yuma, after crossing the Colorado River and passing through the California agricultural checkpoint, there's a freestanding spiral staircase, a small church on a hill, a pyramid and a sign that proclaims Museum of History in Granite.

I had driven past it several times, assuming it was something a stone products trade association had created. "Look how important granite has been throughout time." Okay, whatever.

But I figured the spiral staircase would make an interesting photo. A symbol of uncompleted plans, of philosophies that sound good but lead nowhere, of a stairway to heaven. So this time I pulled off the freeway to check things out.

I discovered the operative word is history, not granite. It's the continuing project of French-American paratrooper/investment banker/author/historian/mayor Jaques-AndrĂ© Istel.

Long, low granite monuments are engraved with highlights of the history of the universe, of humanity (up to about 800BCE so far), of the United States, of Arizona and California, of the French Foreign Legion, and of aviation. It's also a memorial to Marines who died in the Korean War. Sort of an eclectic mix.

I'm all for literacy

The pyramid marks the official Center of the World (as recognized by Imperial County and the French government). It was inspired by children's book written by Istel, Coe, the Good Dragon at the Center of the World.

I guess I've been everywhere now

The door of the church is exactly the same color as the sky—at least on this day

Oh, the spiral staircase? It was from the Eiffel Tower and removed during an early structural renovation. Now I know.


  1. Yeats said that death was a human invention, and so is history.

  2. I really enjoy blog travels w/ Al...you find the most interesting places!