Carrington Meteor | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Carrington Meteor

Oct 9, 2020

 

On a cold winter night in 1910, a 600-pound meteorite lying on a sidewalk in Carrington disappeared and was never seen again.

Thousands of meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere every single day, but only a few survive to hit the dirt. For example, on this date in 1992, thousands of people heard a sonic boom, then watched as a meteor burst into flames and streaked across the eastern sky. A thirty-pound chunk of the meteor hit a parked car in New York state.

In contrast, a meteor reported near Carrington, North Dakota on January 10th, 1910, was twenty times larger. An article said the meteor was five feet in diameter and had buried itself six feet into the ground where it sizzled for a day. It weighed about 600 pounds. The brilliant light from the fireball was said to have engulfed the countryside for miles and, despite falling at 2 a.m., was witnessed by at least two local families. The meteorite was said to have remained white hot for a full day.

Carrington citizens wanted to put the meteorite on display on the courthouse lawn, but instead, it was moved into Beck’s Clothing store. The Courtnay Gazette reported that the rock attracted hundreds of visitors, which may account for it being moved to the sidewalk.

Then in December, almost one year later, it was suddenly gone. The Fargo Sunday News carried the story under the title, “Carrington Meteor Vanishes from Sight. Rock that Attracted Attention of Scientists has Disappeared.”

Many believed the meteorite had been stolen. Others thought workers repairing a sewer line had used it as backfill. Either way, the meteorite was gone.

Existing scientific literature contains no mention of the Carrington meteorite. It’s possible that the story was a hoax. The report that the rock was white hot for twenty-four hours isn’t quite believable. On the other hand, if the story is true, a valuable iron meteorite may someday be unearthed from beneath Carrington’s streets.

Dakota Datebook by Merry Helm