Thursday, December 1, 2016

Was 1954 meteorite incident the most unusual event in Alabama history?

Alabama's famous Hodges meteorite.
Around the world, weird events happen every day. Most of them probably don’t make the news, but some of them do, which is how most of us hear about them. Like most places, Alabama has experienced its fair share of unusual events, and arguably the most unusual thing to have ever occurred in Alabama celebrated its 62nd anniversary Saturday.

At 2:46 p.m. on Nov. 30, 1954, Ann Elizabeth Hodges of Sylacauga became the first person in modern history to be struck by a meteorite. Hodges, age 31, was sleeping on a couch in the living room of an Oak Grove rental house when an 8-1/2 pound meteorite crashed through the roof, bounced off a large console radio and struck her in the left hip and hand. The incident would be reported worldwide.

Hodges was not permanently injured in the incident. The impact did leave her with a severe bruise on her hip and leg, but she was able to walk after the incident. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the pain and noise of the meteorite crash woke her, and she initially thought that the room’s gas space heater had exploded. When she saw the meteorite on the floor, her next thought was that children had thrown the rock into the room.

The meteorite, which is now commonly referred to as the Hodges Meteorite, was composed of sulfide and was seven inches long. It is often described as grapefruit-sized and created a fireball that was visible in three states, despite the fact that it fell in broad daylight. Many witnesses thought they’d seen an airplane accident.

This meteorite broke into three pieces as it streaked through the atmosphere. The other was found in the middle of a dirt road near the farm of Julius K. McKinney, which was located near the Hodges’ residence. That fragment can be seen today at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. The other meteorite fragment is believed to have hit near Childersburg.

The military initially took possession of the meteorite that struck Hodges, and later she and her husband, Hewlett, got into a court battle with the landlord over who owned the meteorite. They thought they could sell it for a lot of money, but the landlord wanted to sell it to cover the damages to her house. The meteorite was eventually returned to the Hodges over a year later, and when they couldn’t find a suitable buyer, they donated it to the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa.

Ann Elizabeth Hodges and her husband separated in 1964, and she died in 1972. She is buried in the cemetery at Charity Baptist Church in Hazel Green. If you go to the town of Oak Grove today, you can see a historic marker that was erected there in 2010 to mark the site of the meteorite’s impact.

In the end, I think you could make the argument that the Hodges Meteorite incident is probably the most unusual incident to have ever occurred within the state of Alabama. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment