What is The Thing in Arizona?: The Mystery of Desert

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what is the thing in arizona
Photo by Albert Antony on Unsplash/Copyright 2021

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? If you’ve ever driven along Interstate 10, between El Paso, Texas, Phoenix, and Tucson, in Southern Arizona, you would have definitely noticed the huge billboards, asking the same question over and over – What is The Thing (in Arizona)?

The answer itself is never provided, obviously. Is it a great mystery of the desert? A wonder? The answer to all your questions about the Universe? You’ll have to visit The Thing to find out. Seeing is believing, right?

So, exactly what is The Thing in Arizona? The simple answer – it’s a roadside attraction that is essentially an eccentric museum. Very much giving Black Mirror vibes.

For a more detailed answer, read on. But if you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you leave more confused than before you entered, but that’s exactly why it’s so fun.

what is the thing in arizona
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash/Copyright 2018

1. Where is The Thing Located?

Follow the signs.

Dramatic, right? But there are bright yellow signs spanning hundreds of miles between Phoenix and El Paso in Arizona. Each sign you see (and there’s no way you’ll miss it) will make you curious to figure out the answer to what is The Thing in Arizona.

Take Exit 322 on Interstate 10 and keep following the signs. You’ll end up at a gas station, also advertising the Thing, in the tiny town of Texas Canyon. There’s also a Dairy Queen, so they’ve got you covered.

‘I get it now’, you tell yourself, ‘The Thing is just a weird museum.’

Sure, but more accurately, The Thing is actually inside the said weird museum. And before you get to It, you’ll pass a lot of other, well, things.

2. So, What is The Thing in Arizona?

That really is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Some people believe that The Thing is a hoax, while others think it could be a genuine mystery or even an extraterrestrial being. Hopefully, you aren’t actually expecting a direct answer that clears everything right up.

In this particular case – the answer to all your questions is Aliens. At least, that’s what The Thing Museum claims.

The Thing, located at the end of the odd experience of the museum, is the corpse of an unidentified mummified mother and her child. Now, whether these mummies are real or not, what is their significance, and how is this knowledge helping you answer the mysteries of the universe, are all questions that you’ll have to find the answers to yourself.

The history of the earth that is laid out in the museum in great detail, and with accompanying evidence, should help you figure things out. Dinosaurs play a role, which makes sense, right? But you know who played a greater role? The Aliens.

You might now wonder, and rightfully so, ‘what does The Thing have to do with Aliens?’ But it’s the aliens who have everything to do with the world.

what is the thing in arizona
Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash/Copyright 2020

3. Where Did The Thing Come From?

The Thing is definitely one of the strangest roadside attractions you’ll come across on your travels. Besides the burning question of what is The Thing in Arizona, the origins of The Thing also tell an interesting story.

In the 1940s, there was a man by the name of Homer Tate. He was in the business of making roadside attractions (usually fake, by the way), and charged people to view them. He had shrunken heads, mermaids, and mummies. Homer Tate was the one who originally owned The Thing, and sold it to a lawyer, Thomas Binkley Prince, who turned them into a roadside attraction in the 1950s. For $50.

That’s one version of the story. The other is that the bodies of the mother and child may or may not have been immigrants, who either starved in the desert or were killed (in a violent shooting by locals).

So all we know for sure is that The Thing definitely reached the hands of Prince. He purchased it in California and opened the initial attraction in California’s Mojave Desert. It was then moved to Arizona.

If you’re confused, don’t worry. After all, that is the common theme here.

This lawyer turned The Thing into a sort of fixed roadside attraction. Once Prince died, the attraction was run by his wife, Janet, for many years. She finally sold it to Bowlin Travel Centers, who renovated it into the strange attraction it is today.

4. What Should You Expect in The Thing Museum?

To figure out precisely what is The Thing in Arizona, you’ll need to pay attention to all the other stuff on display.

4.1 The Early Situation

what is the thing in arizona
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Unsplash/Copyright 2017

If travelers visited The Thing back when Prince and his wife ran the place, they would find themselves in a shed. There would have been yellow footprints leading your way into another shed, and then the third. All this was set up to finally provide the answer to what is The Thing in Arizona?

The Thing was laid to rest, dismally alone, in a tomb in the final shed.

Each shed housed various supposedly historical artifacts. There was no connection between the sheds or the artifacts placed there. It included shrunken heads that may have been from Homer Tate’s collection, a vintage car that was allegedly used by Adolf Hitler, complete with bullet holes, useless farm equipment, apparatuses used for torture, taxidermied animals, wood carvings of tortured souls, pottery and other assorted items supposedly unearthed from lost civilizations, and old guns and rifles.

There was even an unexplained scene set up in one of the sheds, containing a bed, a rug, a cupboard, and a piano, next to a wooden mannequin looking up at the heavens. Perhaps looking up at the UFOs?

4.2 The Current Situation

what is the thing in arizona
Photo by Uninteneded Concept on Unsplash/Copyright 2021

After it was acquired by the Bowlin Travel Center, significant changes were made. It was decided that the grand story of the world needs to be told. Now, the main theme of the museum is Aliens, who, the museum claims, may have played a vital role in every major event in human history, starting right from the dinosaurs.

After entering, visitors will be greeted by a model of an alien sitting astride a dinosaur. Apparently, aliens mind-controlled dinosaurs into slavery. There’s even a diagram detailing the harnesses used to ride these dinosaurs. In an unfortunate turn of events, the dinosaurs rebelled against the aliens, who then sent the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs in retaliation.

If that’s not all, the events in our history are the result of the consequences of alien factions fighting each other for control over our planet earth. UFOs and space guns are heavily involved. It doesn’t get better than this.

They don’t teach you this version of history in school, do they?

After this, the museum exhibits take you through the entire timeline of history and bring up all the craziest ‘What If?’ questions ever asked, with the answer, inevitably, being aliens. This entire setup gives you the answer to “what is The Thing in Arizona?”.

In order to pay homage to its origins, the new layout has also kept many of the oddities from the previous one and inserted them into the new story. For example, Adolf Hitler’s bullet-riddled Rolls Royce is now Winston Churchill’s. It may as well have come straight from the set of The Godfather, except for the time fact that it existed before the movie came out.

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

5.1 Where is The Thing Museum located?

The current location of The Thing is at Bowlin Travel Center, 2631 Johnson Road, Benson. The building is bright yellow, and you will have to pay an admission fee to enter.

5.2 How much does it cost to see The Thing?

Before the renovation, the entry fee was $2. In Prince’s time, it was even less. The latest information is that the admission fee is $5 for a person and $10 for a family. There’s also an audio tour available, which costs extra. The entry fee may change in the near future, so if you are planning to go, do check the rates.

5.3 What are the amenities available there?

The Thing is located near a small gas station. Next to it is a souvenir store selling all sorts of items related to The Thing, selling t-shirts, earrings, and other such odds and ends.

5.4 When should you plan to visit The Thing?

You can visit at any time from 7 am in the morning to about 7 pm in the evening.

5.5 What is The Thing in Arizona?

Is it authentic human remains, an unknown human-like creature, or a silly hoax made up by a conman, is up to you to decide. When you finally see The Thing, you can either choose to believe take the museum’s story at face value, or you can shake your head in disbelief at the absurdity of it all and walk away.

what is the thing in arizona
Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash/Copyright 2020

6. Closing Notes

The operation director of the Bowlin company, Kit Johnson, says that the most important object of this strange museum is for the visitors to have fun here. And you can, if you enter with an open mind.

But what is The Thing in Arizona? That’s still not clear. If there’s one thing the museum really wants you to realize, it’s that you shouldn’t take life too seriously. After all, we are all on a rock, drifting through the vast expanse of space. The mystery of life and the universe can never really be answered, can it? Nothing is impossible. No person can truly claim to know the truth, but we are all constantly in pursuit of it.

So, follow those billboards to figure out what is The Thing in Arizona.

You can check out other great places to visit in Arizona here!

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