History

Shocking History: Did a Huge Meteor Crash at This Texas Lake in 1907?

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In 1907, the Shafter Lake Herald published an article detailing events that locals experienced in West Texas, similar to the well-documented Tunguska event. The latter took place in Russia, entailing what was identified as the “air burst from a meteoroid…” which is classified as an impact event, even though no crater or actual impact occurred. The event in Shafter Lake (now a ghost town) captured in their local press, documented something similar. It left many to wonder if a “massive meteorite crash” took place near there and the details were never released for public record. Do you believe the event really occurred, or was it a Texas tall tale?

Shocking History: Did a Huge Meteor Crash at This Texas Lake in 1907?

Photo: envato elements

The paper reported that area residents were “rudely awakened from their slumber” at approximately 2:30 a.m. on an October morning in 1907. They experienced a “severe shock” that lasted roughly 40 seconds, shaking windows and dishes in the process. Residents first believed it to be an earthquake, and when no further disturbance occurred, they went back to bed. The next morning, however, there was reportedly a “long, curling, seething mass of steam and smoke” to the east of Shafter Lake. An investigation committee was formed and determined the source to be at Lost Lake, an inland body of freshwater with crystal clear water and a granite bottom.

Shocking History: Did a Huge Meteor Crash at This Texas Lake in 1907?

Photo: envato elements

When the investigation party arrived at the lake, they found a huge boulder approximately a mile out, and for almost a half-mile around its diameter, the water at Lost Lake was said to be steaming and vaporizing. As a result of the increase in water temperature, hundreds of fish were floating belly-up. Once someone from the Shafter Lake Herald had viewed the site, a poll of the town was taken to see if there hadn’t been any witnesses to the event. One individual, by the name of Percy Saint Clair, said they had seen what took place, and their personal account was then published in the paper.

He described the incident saying he saw what appeared to him like a morning star that was “moving toward the earth in a very rapid manner.” He said that it went from “a light the size of a lantern, grown to a blinding brilliancy and was now one long streak of vivid flame in the sky.” In explaining its touch-down, he said it was “as if a hundred cannon had been fired, accompanied by a severe trembling of the earth, and then all was darkness.” For having foreknowledge of what meteors were said to be like, his final accounting of his reaction to the event read as follows: “Knowing that the meteor, for that was what I believed it to be, had struck the earth, and feeling now that all was quiet, I retired for the night.”

Shocking History: Did a Huge Meteor Crash at This Texas Lake in 1907?

Photo: envato elements

The press report states that the belief was if the meteorite had made impact at any other part of the Earth except for the impenetrable granite bottom of Lost Lake, it would have sunk plain out of sight. Instead, it left a portion of the boulder above the water where it is said that “hundreds of people who view the messenger from Mars” had come to Shafter daily. This included such individuals of notoriety as Professor Henri Gruensfelder of Heidelberg University, Germany, who gave his own educated guess as to the origins, age, and speed of the meteor, also published in the Shafter Lake Herald report. Roughly two days after it fell to Earth, the water temperature in Lost Lake had reverted to normal. However, the boulder was said to remain warm. Boating parties went out to investigate further, and it was following one of these trips that Gruensfelder gave his dissertation. The meteoric phenomenon was also reportedly seen by people from miles around as it entered our atmosphere that night. This included sightings in New Mexico, according to press dispatches. Now, more than a century later, the Shafter Lake meteor incident and the site itself are no longer a topic of newsworthy note, long forgotten like the small West Texas town itself.