Often referred to as “America’s Stonehenge”, the Georgia Guidestones, an attraction drawing New Age road trippers from around the world, have been destroyed.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released surveillance video capturing a detonation early Wednesday morning that brought down one of the slabs. A second video shows a grey vehicle fleeing the scene.
The remaining slabs were then demolished for safety reasons, the GBI said.
The mysterious monument in the sleepy town of Elberton, Georgia, was commissioned by someone using the pseudonym “RC Christian”, and has stood in a country field since 1980.
Made from five slabs of six-metre-tall carved granite, the oddity featured a 10-part message advocating the defence of mankind in eight languages.
Mr Christian also bought the land where the monument sat.
Calling itself the granite capital of the world, Elberton is near the South Carolina border and about two hours east of Atlanta.
Businesses along the town’s once-booming historic square struggle for customers, and its quaint homes, once Grand Dames, sit in need of repairs.
The Guidestones, among the few attractions to bring visitors to the area, were inscribed with messages of positivity.
They include: “Let all nations rule internally, resolving external disputes in a world court; balance personal rights with social duties"; "Prize truth – beauty – love – seeking harmony with the infinite"; and "Be not a cancer on the Earth – leave room for nature – leave room for nature".
The Guidestones also serve as an astronomical calendar, arranged to let sunlight shine through a narrow hole in the structure daily at noon to illuminate the date on an engraving.
World-renowned sculptor Stan Mullins has been obtaining materials for his creations from Elberton for more than 30 years and was dismayed at the Guidestones' destruction.
"Being an artist, and now specifically a monument creator and sculptor, art is the most lasting of all human currencies," Mr Mullins told The National.
"Elberton granite is used for monuments throughout the world, and to know that such an icon as the Georgia Guidestones, whether you think good or ill of it, to be destroyed is disconcerting.
"We as a society can agree to disagree, and if you or your organisation sees fit you can erect a monument enshrining your treasured beliefs."
The Elberton Granite Association, which maintains and preserves the stones, has put the cost of replacing them at hundreds of thousands of dollars, WHNS reported.
So far, no one is claiming responsibility and there is no reported motive.
The stones have often been called “Satanic” by some right-wing Christian groups and became fodder for conspiracy theorists.
In the primary for the race to become Georgia governor in May, Republican candidate Kandiss Taylor made destroying the Guidestones part of her campaign, which she communicated in a Tweet.
“I am the only candidate bold enough to stand up to the Luciferian Cabal," she wrote.
"Elect me governor of Georgia, and I will bring the Satanic Regime to its knees and demolish the Georgia Guidestones. Join me in my fight to tear them down.”
There is no suggestion that Ms Taylor, who won less than 4 per cent of the vote, is in any way connected to the incident.
The Guidestones were also several times vandalised with graffiti.
Stonehenge, a prehistoric landmark on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, is believed to date back to 3000BC.