Up on a plateau in the High Desert, about 50 miles north of Palm Springs in a small town called Landers, there’s a domed structure that’s been attracting buzz since the 1950s.
Its builder was George Van Tassel, a UFOlogist, aviator and businessman who claimed that an alien from outer space, speaking in perfect English, told him how to build the structure back in 1953.
Van Tassel named it the Integraton.
According to writings by Van Tassel, who authored four books—including I Rode a Flying Saucer—“the purpose of the Integratron is to recharge energy into living cell structure, to bring about longer life with youthful energy. It is a machine, a high-voltage electrostatic generator that would supply a broad range of frequencies to recharge cellular structure.”
Van Tassel died at the age of 67 in 1978, so the part about longer life didn’t exactly work for him. However, there’s an explanation for that among the folks who know a thing or two about Van Tassel.
“He never finished it,” said Gene Woodley, the Morongo Basin Historical Society vice president, to me on a recent visit to the Integraton.
Wooley, a Landers resident since 1984, told me that no nail was used to build the four-story-tall wooden dome that measures 55 feet in diameter.
Another longtime Landers-area resident, Rob Harris, met Van Tassel 50-plus years ago.
“I was 17 then,” he remembers. “At first, as George talked to me and my friends, I thought that he had spent too much time out there in the desert under the sun. That was before I knew anything about him.”
The way Van Tassel described his Integraton as “a high voltage electrostatic generator that would supply a broad range of frequencies” was apparently inspired by ideas of famed inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943).
Yes, Tesla cars are named after this gifted scientist of Yugoslavian origin. He was a genius—and an eccentric, too, who harnessed the use of alternating electrical current (AC). He also invented fluorescent lighting and bladeless turbines while developing theories on robotics, missiles and computers.
Way before the modern rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, there was a bitter “war of currents” between Tesla’s AC system and Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC) system. Tesla’s alternate current prevailed.
I first wrote about the Integraton for a European magazine in the late 1990s. When I entered the Integraton back then, I realized that it looked almost exactly like pictures from Tesla’s labs that hung on the walls of my high school science classroom in Sarajevo. In those old black-and-white photos, Tesla was usually sitting on a chair in a middle of a spherical wooden structure while illuminated by the discharge of several million volts of electricity, cascading all around him.
Van Tassel must have seen the same photos back in his days, and perhaps that’s how he came up with the idea to build the Integraton—even if he did claim an alien told him how to build it.
Interestingly, when I visited the Integraton some 18 or so years ago, there was a Tesla coil inside. The machine was placed in a prominent place and was clearly marked with a brass tag.
Nowadays, the new owners of the Integraton use it as a tourist attraction for visitors who want to experience “sound baths.” Indeed, Integraton is very acoustic. Anything that works to attract paying visitors to the Integraton is good for business.
Sadly, as I was taking pictures of the dome on a recent visit, an Integraton staffer told me that all of Van Tassel’s machines, including the one invented by Tesla, had been removed from the Integraton.
For more information, visit integratron.com.