PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROCHESTER ACADEMY OF SCIENCE

VOL. 4, PP. 193-202, Plate 19


Notes on the Bath Furnace Aerolite


By Henry A. Ward

Rochester, N.Y.
Published by the Society
August 21, 1905


This online version of (c) 1998 -- Rochester Academy of Science, Inc.

Notes on the Bath Furnace Aerolite,


By Henry A. Ward

(Read by title before the Academy February 13, 1905)

The passage of this meteor was first signalled in the early evening of November 15, 1902, high above northern Tennessee and Kentucky, and was seen as far north as Columbus, Ohio. Its course was north, 81 degrees east until its final fall in Bath county, eastern Kentucky, about 50 miles east of Lexington. Prof. Arthur M. Miller of the State College of Kentucky at Lexington, who recorded the fall in "Science" August 21, 1902, tells us that "The few residents of the region where the pieces struck seem to have been much startled by the blinding light and the heavy detonations accompanying the fall. They speak of the singing of the fragments, as they flew through the air, and of the sound made by their striking the ground, or hitting the timber on the knells."

There were three distinct falls (noting only those of which pieces were found) all doubtless occurring simultaneously, but found at different times at points slightly separate.

The piece first found fell at 6:45 P.M. in the road in front of the house of Buford Staten, near old Bath Furnace, some five miles south of Salt Lick, and was found by him the following morning. It had cut a furrow east and west in the hard road about a foot long and five inches in greatest depth. It was about 8 1/2 x 6 x 4 inches in dimensions, and weighed 12 lbs. 12 1/2 ounces. This piece was bought for me through the good services of Prof. Miller; and after cutting to show its inner structure, it was put in the Ward-Coonley Meteorite Collection {For description of this mass, see Am. Journal of Science (4th Ser.) Vol. 16, pp. 316-319}. Mr. Staten writing me of this fall said: "It sounded like a great buzz-saw ripping through a thick plank, and coming-at me through the air.''

The second piece was found one hundred yards west of No. 1. It was 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 3/4 inch in dimensions, and weighed 223 grams. It was crusted over the entire surface, one side and one end being primary (original) crust, the other faces having a secondary coating, showing aerial fracture. This piece was cut through the center, and one-half went to the Field Columbian Museum at Chicago, the other to the museum of the State College of Kentucky.

The third piece (see Plate XIX) was found near the middle of May, 1903, about one and three-quarters miles south of the other two pieces, by a squirrel hunter, Jack Pegrem, whose attention was drawn to a scar on a white oak tree, some fifteen feet front the ground. Looking around he found, a few yards further on at the foot of a larger tree, broken roots and a hole beneath. Searching here, he found the great aerolite buried less than two feet, its apex crowded in among the roots, some of which had been cut through by the impact. Two other saplings in this vicinity, respectively about 100 and 300 yards farther east, were broken off by missiles coming from the west, and it is therefore probable that there were several other pieces besides the three here recorded, although search for them has been unsuccessful. This third piece has gone through the ordeal of a suit at law brought by the owner of the land upon which it fell, against the man who found it. The suit was compromised by the payment of several hundred dollars to the finder, in consideration of his relinquishing his claim. The mass was subsequently purchased by me, and is now one of the most notable specimens in the Ward-Coonley Collection.

It would be interesting to find the other pieces above mentioned whose existence is suspected, especially to see whether by shape or surface they would match either of the three known masses. None of these three are battered or bruised in any way by striking the earth, which is particularly surprising in the case of the largest, No. 3, which grazed the trunk of one tree and cut the roots of another before it came to rest in soft ground. But it is on this mass that the breaking off of pieces while still in the air is most noticeable. Several of these pieces must have weighed from one to three or four kilograms each. They carve from two sides of the triangle, and were three inches in greatest thickness, and at least four in number. All three of the original masses of this aerolite are quite covered with a dense, black crust which is of two degrees--primary and secondary. The primary crust covers the entire sur-


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