Headline News
Go Back
2017-09-14

Treasure from outer space

By Raymond V Carter Research Historian ©2017

By Raymond V Carter Research Historian
©2017
In 1903, my grandfather’s parents homesteaded land in McMullen County, Texas, having moved from Pleasanton to the Lorna Alto District. They built their home, cow pens and barn on a hill on the west side of the 160-acre preemption. Sometime in 1904 a meteor fell at approximately a 30-degree angle from the western night sky and lit up the whole area like the sun had suddenly appeared. It made a celestial uproarious sound that should have awakened the dead. It struck the southeastern corner of a wooden barn tearing off part of the roof and a section of the wall. Then, in an instant, it carved out a huge crater, about 30 to 40 feet wide, 15 to 20 feet deep, and maybe 50 feet long.
Grandpa said he was told that people in the area experienced the impact as a miniature earthquake, and the meteor, visible in the bottom of the crater, was glowing bright red. He also said, “The barn wall was knocked down.” Now as my grandpa was only three years old when the meteor struck, his memory of the meteor and its impact were likely formed by listening to his father and possibly others.
In any event, I never learned what happened to the meteorite. It is my opinion that they dug it out after it cooled down and hauled it away. From there it is anyone’s guess where it went. Grandpa’s dad traded this 160 acres to Sid Kay for a wagon and two mules in about 1906.
My mother’s second cousin inherited that piece of land and I went there to visit her and other cousins many times in the 1980’s and 90’s. As I got to know Madelene better, I started to like her personality and character more and more. She is a true Texan, and an independent soul. Yep, she is my kinfolk.
After about five years of visiting her I finally told her that I knew of a treasure that might be on her land. She looked at me as though there was something wrong with me. She had never heard this story, but we agreed to have some fun and go exploring. In the meantime, I purchased a metal detector designed for deep penetration of the ground.
Madelene and I made a trip to her rancho and I showed her the impact crater. She told me that it was a stock pond that her parents had enlarged back in the early 1950’s. She had no idea that it was originally made by a meteorite. I showed her where the old home place was, the barn area and the old well site where the windmill once stood. We spent the day examining the crater bottom and sides with the metal detector. We found no sign of anything metallic. I covered the immediate area around the crater but still found nothing. Madelene and I looked around the old homesite, but again found nothing. I nicknamed that hill “Rattlesnake Ridge” because of the number of rattlesnakes we saw.
I suspect it most likely that the meteor was carried off by those who witnessed the event. If it went with my grandfather’s parents it would be in either La Salle or Frio County, because that is where they went after they sold out to Sid Kay. My great-grandfather was not that sentimental, so I doubt he carried that meteorite anywhere. Now, Grandpa Whitley might have carried it off to his place as he was the sentimental type, but who knows? After studying about meteorites, I learned that about 90 percent of meteors are composed of rock and ice. These normally explode upon entering the earth’s atmosphere because of the sudden buildup of heat from atmospheric friction, while the metallic ones sometimes make if to the ground as meteorites. I also learned that, at the time, meteorites sold from $2 dollars a pound on up to a million dollars a piece, depending upon the meteorite's composition. You see, some treasures are made of silver and gold. Others, just nickel and iron.