Aerial photographs reveal additional buildings at FLDS Amphitheater

A new set of aerial photos posted at shows a couple of new buildings at the FLDSYearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, Lindsay Whitehurst writes in her Polygamy Blog at The Salt Lake Tribune:

They’re placed at either end of the shining amphitheater under construction, and look to be sheathed in the same white limestone.

Using Google Earth, the Eldorado Success measured the main building, concluding that on one side it’s 289 feet, almost as long as a football field.

KSL TV, Feb. 2, 2012

In an article titled, “Jailed Polygamist Warren Jeffs Prepares His Flock for Doomsday,” TIME magazine last February wrote:

[O]ne of the most dramatic signs of Jeffs‘ prophesy that the end is nigh is rising out of the rugged West Texas scrubland on the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch outside Eldorado, the site of the 2008 raid by Texas Rangers and child-welfare officials that resulted in a series of trials of FLDS men charged with sexual assault and bigamy. A large semicircular amphitheater, almost 300 ft. wide, is under construction on the ranch, according to judge James Doyle, Schleicher County’s justice of the peace. The structure is about 40 ft. tall and appears to have stadium-style platforms rising to the rim, which has curious blue tubes erupting from its surface. Brower says the structure echoes, in some ways, the Visitors Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Salt Lake City, which features a circular structure dominated by a statue of Christ. Jeffs, according to Brower, often “parrots” the LDS church, which excommunicated the FLDS followers in the 19th century when they insisted on practicing polygamy.

Judge Doyle, a pilot, has kept track of the various construction projects on the ranch over the years, and he and his son have shot numerous aerial photographs of the various large homes, dairy, gardens and other facilities on the site. The largest YFZ Ranch structure is the temple, site of Jeffs’ marriages. It is unclear if the temple is still in use, Doyle says, and there are reports the FLDS considers it to be desecrated following the raid. […]

Observers familiar with FLDS activities believe Jeffs has issued a call for the faithful to be rebaptized. Brower says there is evidence of a large baptismal font being built in Short Creek where some 15,000 of Jeffs’ followers live, while Eldorado is awash in rumors and speculation that the new amphitheater will also serve as a baptismal site. The site also is crisscrossed with several large ditches that contain large, 48-in. pipes, odd in the dry West Texas landscape that has been in a severe drought. “It looks like some kind of ceremonial building,” Doyle says, and he adds that there are local reports that a 30 ft.-high, gold-colored statue of Jeffs with one hand holding the hand of a young girl and other grasping a biblical text will be incorporated into the site. Doyle said many of the local residents find that imagery repulsive, given the evidence at the FLDS trials — the prosecution alleged Jeffs had 78 marriages, many of them to underage girls. […]

Jeffs’ intentions are wrapped in mystery, but his rambling revelations clearly vilify those outside the FLDS community and warn of doom.

KSL TV in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February reported that

The construction work has mysterious elements. Thousands of tubes curling from the top may be a cooling system, but experts KSL News consulted have never seen one like it.

A bigger mystery is an apparent drainage system. Before they put up the building, FLDS workers excavated a trench in solid rock and buried two pipes, roughly 48 inches in diameter. They encircle the building and run, side by side, hundreds of yards to the west.

Experts are puzzled. In such a dry climate it seems inconceivable such a huge volume of drainage would ever be needed.

It’s presumed the building will eventually have a roof and terraced seating.

Research resources on the FLDS

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday April 25, 2012.
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