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Iowa Time Machine: Estherville Meteor - May 10, 1879

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On May 10, 1879, near Estherville, Iowa, the largest known meteorite ever observed in North America smashed into Emmet County. People throughout the area, alerted by rattling dishes and windows, looked up at the tremendous ball of fire descending from the southwest to the northeast during the afternoon.

A thunderous noise ripped through the area as the main body of the descending meteorite fragmented before impact, and several eyewitnesses reported seeing dirt fly high into the air when the celestial  rock touched down. Two people out west of Estherville found themselves directly below the meteorite as it broke apart, and their accounts suggest three large remnants trailed ribbons of vapor as they shot in different directions.

Cattle stampeded, ponds rippled as small stones broke their surfaces, and the meteorite fragments ripped craters in the earth. The largest, roughly four meters wide and two meters deep contained a nearly 430 pound remnant, while locals found another 140 pounder days after the event. The Mesosiderite meteorite contained roughly equal parts metallic nickel-iron and silicate.

Portions of the meteorite found their way to public display, and visitors can view remnants at the Estherville Public Library, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Museum Reich der Kristalle in Munich, and the Naturhisorisches Museum in Vienna. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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