Who Is Planting Antennas and Solar Panels Near Salt Lake City?

Image for article titled Who Is Planting Weird Antennas All Over the Foothills of Salt Lake City?

Photo: Michael Smith/Newsmakers (Getty Images)

Try to figure this one out: it would appear that somebody is installing antenna-equipped rigs all over the foothills of Salt Lake City. Local government officials are stumped as to who is responsible or what the rigs are for. They also seem to be pretty annoyed to have to keep taking the shit down.

“We just don’t know enough at this point to speculate what they are,” Tyler Fonarow, the city’s recreational trails manager, told local news outlet KSL-5.

According to Fonarow, the first rigs showed up about a year ago, but a half dozen more have popped up since then, and it is believed there are more than that haven’t discovered yet. From the pictures shared by officials, the rigs look like odd beaconing towers, typically consisting of a solar panel, an antenna, and a locked battery box. Quite bizarrely, they are being left in mountainous regions that are difficult to get to.

“These towers have been bolted into different peaks and summits and ridges around the foothills,” Fonarow told the outlet. “It started with one or two, and now it might be as many as a dozen,” he explained. Video shared by the local news outlet shows Fonarow and other officials dismantling one of the rigs that had been left on Twin Peaks, an area located along the local Wasatch Range.

Fonarow said the process of dismantling and removing the rig took hours. “Once we get up to the Twin Peaks, it gets real steep, so we were up there. There were five of us, and then we took some kids’ sleds to bring the equipment down to make it a little bit easier on us,” he said.

Even more intriguingly, Fonarow commented during the same interview that the bizarre setups “might be related to cryptocurrency.” He said:

“It might be related to cryptocurrency and relaying networks and being able to make money off that…so that’s another reason we want to stop it now before it becomes a dumping ground for dozens and dozens of more antennas.”

Huh? What? Are shitcoin schemers setting up a secret sun-pilfering system to mine Utah’s bountiful rays for crypto-mining power?

Fonarow did not elaborate on the crypto angle in his interview, so we reached out to the city’s trails department for more information. The department’s community outreach manager, Luke Allen, said that the crypto idea had actually come from locals talking on social media.

“When we posted on our social media accounts asking if anyone in the community had information about the towers, several commenters theorized that the towers could be set up to mine cryptocurrency,” said Allen, in an email. “However, we don’t have the experts on staff to verify this, nor do we want to spend additional staff time trying to find out exactly what they are for. Our main priority is to remove the items from public property.”

How many of these things has the government uprooted? “Our staff has removed two towers so far, and we are aware of four or five more, some of which are in adjacent jurisdictions,” Allen said. He added that it would have been “a good workout to lug the equipment up to those remote areas, but it’s something that someone who’s in good shape could have easily done.” It’s unclear just how expensive the equipment is, he said.

Honestly, this one has us totally stumped, so feel free to spout off in the comment section as to what the hell you think is going on here.

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