Saturday, January 9, 2016

Museum of History in Granite, 1/03/2016

Last Sunday we made our way to Felicity, CA, (about 20 miles west of Westwinds RV Resort in Yuma, AZ) to the Museum of History in Granite.

The town of Felicity, including the Museum, was founded by Jaques-Andre Istel in 1986. Istel traveled through this area en route to Camp Pendleton when he was a Marine. He fell in love with the beauty of the desert and Chocolate Mountains and vowed to return to the area to purchase land  and settle here.

Istel is a French-American recreational parachutist and investment banker who is widely recognized as the "father of American skydiving." He has been been honored with many international awards for his many life accomplishments.

The concept for the town of Felicity, and its designation as the Center of the Earth, was derived from a children's book Istel wrote, COE the Good Dragon of the Center of the Earth. (We purchased a copy of the book for our grandson, Andrew's, first birthday this year.) 

The town of Felicity was incorporated in 1986 (population 2) and was designated by Istel as the Center of the Earth. This was recognized legally by Imperial County (California). It is a candidate for a Unesco World Heritage site and has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 "places to visit" in the United States. I had never heard of it before this! The post office for the town is located at the museum. 

After paying our admission fee ($5/adult including Certificate), we were escorted to the 15' sundial at the front of the museum.

Next, we went to a building to view an 8-minute video that provides the background information about the museum. 

A 21' tall, hollow, mirror-lined pink granite pyramid encloses the spot that is the Center of the Earth.

When you stand on the bronze disk in the floor and look toward the Hill of Prayer, a town official records the time/date and orders you to make a wish. A Certificate is then issued to you (John and I both have one now). We are hoping our wishes come true!

As shown in this diagram, there are a total of 16 monuments made from Missouri Red Granite that are 100' long, 2-sided wedges. They are designed to last 4,000 years. 

Six of the eight panels closest to the Center of the Earth Pyramid, have engravings of writing and images on the following topics: 
  • Wall for the Ages (dedicated in 1991) includes Hall of Fame of Parachuting (Istel's primary business), Family Panels, Princeton University and Stony Brook School classes (Istel attended both). Individuals may purchase a panel and have it engraved with a similar topic.
  • US Marine Corps Korean War Memorial (dedicated in 1998) lists names of veterans that were killed during the war. Istel was a Marine Lt. Colonel. 

  • History of French Aviation (dedicated in 2002). 
  • History of the French Foreign Legion (dedicated in 2003). 

  • History of the United States (dedicated in 2014)

  • A replica of the Liberty Bell (half-scale) is located at the north end of the History of the United States Monument. 
  • History of Arizona is on the east side of a monument. 
  • History of California on the west side of the same monument of the Arizona history.
  • Two monuments in this collection are reserved for Inventions and Animals of the World. They have not yet been engraved.

There are eight more monuments in a circular design with the Felicity Stone in the center. They are dedicated to the History of Humanity and about 26% of the engraving has been completed to date. Below are a few of the panels.

The Felicity Stone is the Rosetta stone for these monuments. The same inscription is engraved in multiple languages for future scholars. 

The Church on the Hill was dedicated in 2008 by both protestant and Catholic representatives. Believing that a place of worship should be on elevated ground, Istel had 150,000 tons of earth trucked in to the site where the Church was built. It is a very beautiful and serene setting. 

This is a view of the 16 monument panels from the Church. 

Istel's vision is a far-reaching plan to document our history for future generations and/or any other intelligent beings. The goal is to document everything worth telling future generations. He envisions others adding hundreds of monuments to continue this tradition. Wow!!  

Since we visited this place, I continue to be in awe of what an amazing and huge undertaking it is. The panels that we saw are so incredibly well done. What an undertaking! 

We stopped at the Gift Shop to pick up our Center of the Earth Certificates, some postcards, and a copy of Istel's children's book. 

Wrapping up our visit, we stopped to take a quick look at the 25' section of the 12th floor staircase of the original Eiffel Tower stairs built in 1889. The Istels purchased this when the original steps were replaced. 

Stop by this place if you are in the area! They are only open December to April. Honestly, it is very well worth the visit. Fascinating. 

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