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On I80 at Imlay, you pass an amazing, well, house? Sculpture? Museum? Well, all of those. It’s the home of Chief Rolling Thunder Mountain.

As we head to the 2019 Narrow Gauge Convention a quick stop at Chief Rolling Thunder Mountains house. We were here a few years ago, but just to catch up. On our last stop we gave you the history, today just a revisit to see any changes, and just to enyoy the place.

From the web:

The Thunder Mountain Monument is a series of outsider art sculptures and architectural forms that were assembled by Frank Van Zant starting in 1969 upon his arrival in Imlay, Nevada; it is located on a shoulder of I-80.

A World War II veteran from Oklahoma, Frank Van Zant had served with the 7th Armoured Division, fought in several campaigns in Europe and been badly burned in a tank battle outside Leipzig. Born on an Indian Reservation in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, on November 11, 1921, he was the son of Sydney Grove Van Zant and grandson of Alexander Grove Van Zant and due to his upbringing he identified himself as Creek Indian, although his father became disenchanted with the sovereignty of the Creek Nation and became an individual he took the Native American name Rolling Mountain Thunder after experiencing an epiphany. He took on the twin but related tasks of both building shelters from the presumed coming apocalypse, and making a de facto spiritual haven for spiritual seekers of the hippie era. (There is no Thunder Mountain in the vicinity.)

The site covers five acres on the south side of a 1,000-foot stretch of Interstate 80. There were originally seven buildings, including a three-story hostel where many hippies stayed in the 1970s. Three stone and concrete buildings remain, and more than 200 concrete sculptures depicting Native Americans and their protective spirits, massacres, and injustices against them. Thunder Mountain Monument (or Park) is replete with found objects, such as car hoods, dolls’ heads, typewriters, and gas pumps, many of which are incorporated into the buildings themselves; the third floor has one wall made up of antique bottles which form a stained glass window of a different sort; other floors have windows from antique windshields and bottles incorporated therein to provide a lighting source; one framework forms a large handle so the Great Spirit could take the building away after Thunder’s death.

The site was partially destroyed by arson in 1983, the same year Van Zant was named Nevada’s Artist of the Year; he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in 1989. The monument was neglected and subject to vandalism until it was declared a Nevada State Historic Site in 1992; it is now under the care of his grown children under the aegis of a State of Nevada Historic Site Restoration Project and is partially open to the public for self-guided tours. Van Zant has been the subject of two short documentaries.


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16 Replies to “Return to Chief Rolling Thunder Mountain's amazing house”

  1. I don't know how may times ive went past this place in the last 7 years with the same trucking company

  2. I know it would be off the beaten path, but you and Karyn should visit the Integratron out by Yucca. It is like a spaceship in the desert. Check it out.

  3. What a interesting place. Your videography was nice as well. The shot of the rock/cement wall with the open askew door had wonderful texture.
    In Watts, CA the Watts Towers are reminiscent of this style of building. Good find!

  4. It's amazing the places y'all get to. I know there is not all that much between nowhere and there but if there is something you kids will find it. A unique glimpse into a determined mind. Be well. Greg and Jeanne.

  5. Well, Dale, if you were a Native American, what would be YOUR name? Chief Click 'N Clip? ( For picture and video editing.)

  6. Again the worm can openth. Great seeing it a second time through your lens, It may not change , but your prospective seemed to. Kind of interesting as you mentioned that someone did live there, you showed Karyn. I don't know what anal people live in that part of the desert, butt (yes 2 t's, goes along with the rest of the sentence) living in remote area's is suppose to allow one to be a little crazy, so those neighbors should butt Out. there are a few places around that have the same vibe of art. Including one in Desert Hot Springs, another in Glendora Ca. And have you missed Watts Towers. I do believe I have watched most of your video's but (only one t) I recall that one. and then is someone that built a tress house like that some on the North central coast. If you keep this up I don't care how long it takes to get to the convention.

  7. What's is the deal with C.O.P.P.A I see lots of toy channels are about too shut down I would really hate too see your channel go under the new guidelines it's a tough time for creators on YouTube I hope you and Karen continue your journey and are not told too shut down

  8. Thank you heap Big Chief of Screwing Around & Wampum Princess! Another Wild West adventure for us to enjoy without having to leave the fort! 🐴💕

  9. At the risk of sounding sarcastic, I'm sure glad he built his house according to the building code! LOL

  10. Lovely tribute to the house by Cheif Rolling Thunder Mountain. One person's junk is another person's treasure. 💎
    IMHO, most of those concrete plaques will probably far outlast most Youtube accounts…. (most likely, mine too). 😎

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