The way things are going, it wouldn't surprise me if the first cross was stolen for its scrap value. Since the economy went south, I have noticed literally TONS of metal being removed from all parts of the desert. Old cars are disappearing. Interesting old equipment is being removed from mines. Entire water tanks are missing from old ranch sites. It's as if a giant magnet were hovering over the desert, taking all the metal objects with it. I don't think these are organized clean-ups either, as there is still plenty of trash and other debris around - just nothing made of metal.
it wouldn't surprise me if the blm or other federal agency is behind the removal of the really large metal objects. i don't think ordinary folks have the wherewithal to remove a water tank. but the blm does and would in an effort to "return the land to its natural occurring state." i had a nps servant tell me that once for a story i was doing. they do not respect man's creations on the land as part of the natural occurring landscape despite man being part of the land. they will protect ancient people's cliff dwellings but not respect old mining towns, claims, structures and equipment left behind.
that part of our more recent history is slowly being destroyed, while littering and trashing the desert seems to go on unabated - and the garbage is left forever unless an area is part of the national public lands day clean-up effort.
i suppose the greater question is, when it is historical and when is it trash?