Silver Sidings: The Great Nevada Meteor of 1894

A meteorite causing severe damage and injuring 1,200 people in the Russian Urals, has created a stir, especially since it took place as an asteroid zipped by Earth within 17,000 miles. However, it’s not the first time a meteor has made itself known as it slammed through the atmosphere.

Henry Cutting was living in Candelaria, Nevada, when witnessed the explosion of a great meteor, which passed directly over the town, about 10 at night, February 1st, 1894. The meteor, he said, came from the west, exploding with a blinding flash, followed after a short interval by the sound of the explosion, and finally passing out of sight to the east.

Cutting was in his house, when an explosion shook the building; he thought a powder magazine had exploded, and ran out of doors. Once outside, he saw nearly every resident of the town in the street looking towards the sky.

He describes seeing a bright light overhead, and hearing a roaring sound reverberating like thunder, “but more metallic,” which lasted for a number of minutes. The blinding flash was so intense the sagebrush on hills several miles distant could be clearly seen and in houses with shutters tightly closed, the smallest objects were visible.

People compared notes about the time which elapsed between the first flash and the sound of the explosion, and most agreed it was nearly thirty seconds. Assuming that the explosion took place vertically over the town, this would place the meteor, at the moment of explosion, at a height of about six and a half miles.

Some thought that the meteor fell a few miles to the east, and several groups went out to Nevada’s Summit Springs in search of it, but it was never found. Others in the town of Silver Star didn’t hear the explosion, and only one person in the town of Benton claimed to have heard a faint noise; concluding the explosion was nearly directly over Candelaria.

It should be noted that the meteor was seen passing north of San Francisco and to the south, by folks living in Belmont, Nevada. This suggests it continued at least fifty miles east of Candelaria.

Of interest to the meteor of Candelaria is the meteorite of Quinn Canyon, as it may be a part of the same event. The meteorite was found in late August 1908 by a prospector in the foothills of the Quinn Canyon range in Nye County, about 90 miles east of Tonopah.

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