Tells of Time When Meteor Fell in Scott County

By J.K. Freed

Florida had its land boom; Texas had its oil boom; Kansas too had its boom but it was of a different kind. It came straight out of the west and went straight for you--for you, and not the other fellow, while you tried to hide behind something if it were only a barbed wire fence. But as well try to hide from an earthquake as from it. In a single second you remembered more of your shortcomings than you ever before would admit. I have looked down as cold and cruel a gun-barrel as any drunken cowboy ever toted, and I smiled and jollied him until he forgot his businessm but this was a case where tact and diplomacy did not count. You could only await developments.

When it was fourty miles west and twice as far above the earth it exploded with a terrific boom. In rapid succession these fragments exploded again and kept coming toward you. Though it was ten o'clock at night it was, for a moment, as light as day. The doors and windows in Scott City and at Syracuse seventy-five miles away were rattled. It seemed the whole world shook. This was followed by a fierce cannonading which gradually grew fainter and fainter until it died away in the distance, like rolling thunder. Then came the whistling of rocks like bullets or heavy hail, and intense humming or whirling like that of an airplane going a hundred miles an hour. This ended with a dull thud and all was over. Again that calm peacefulness so characteristic of a cloudless night on the western plains prevailed.

With the people, calmness was not so quickly restored. Some did not know much about meteors, what they were, where they came from, or what they were likely to do. Those who were indoors did not see the fireworks and did not know what all of the noise meant. A neighbor was returning from town where he had "met with the boys". He rushed into the house exclaiming,"Good God, Magie! It was as big as a haystack afire, and it came straigh for me and didn't miss me by more than fourty feet!" He has since been a sober and God-Ffearing man. The meteor was the talk of the neighborhood for a time. Some days later I was riding over the prairie and saw a black rock sticking out of the ground. "Huh!" I thought,"that is funny to find a piece all by itself. Guess I'll just take it along as a curiosity." Before I got home I happened to think of that meteorite and then I decided I had really "roped in" a piece of the sun, moon or some other world. I felt as important as a United States senator.

Some time later I was plowing with five horses to the gang plow. My field was a mile long and as level as a base-ball diamond. My team felt a little too frisky so for safety's sake I set the plow a notch deeper and I soon had them down to the right pace. I thought I was doing some of the finest plowing that had ever been done when zip! my plow reared up and sent me sprawling through the air. I landed beside the team with the plow upside down beside me. The team was too suprised to run, while I sat there, talking to myself. As I remembered it, that conversation ran something like this: "What can all of this mean? Haven't I plowed hundreds of acres and never struck a rock or stump within ten miles of here? Was it dynamite?" I then walked back to where the plow had left the ground, but I failed to find a thing, even a hole in the ground, so I took my jack-knife and cautiously began digging. Then I found I had run against one of those nuggets from the sky. It weighed about twenty pounds.

Strange things sometimes happen! We found that a four-pound rock plowed up by my son six months beforethis one fell was also a meteorite but one of an entirely different structure. It had evidently fallen years before for it was covered with rust. I do not know just why two different meteorites should choose this particular farm for a landing field, for there have been only about 900 falls known to the scientific world in the last 5,000 years. I believe there is no case like it on record.

Note: Text taken from "Conquest of Southwest Kansas" by Leola Howard Blanchard, which can be ordered through the Finney County Historical Museum.

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