[meteorite-list] Meteor Lands In San Luis Lore

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:55 2004
Message-ID: <200109030433.VAA11783_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Meteor lands in San Luis lore
By Gwen Florio
Denver Post
Sunday, September 02, 2001

SAGUACHE - It's out there.


Whatever it is.

This IS the San Luis Valley, after all. Who knows if the blazing object that
fell (was piloted?) to Earth two weeks ago was really a meteor?

Whatever it is - and, just for the record, scientists have no doubt it was a
meteor - is the object of intense curiosity by everyone from geologists to
gold diggers.

"Those things have a lot of precious metals in them," said Eric Davey, who
runs cattle south of Saguache, the unofficial staging ground for the
meteorite hunt. "Someone's going to find it, and it's not going to be a

But the scientists are trying.

"Did you see the meteor?" reads a sign in the window of Q-Foods, whose
half-dozen aisles constitute the town's sole grocery store. "Denver museum
scientists are seeking information."

Jack Murphy, curator of geology for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science,
has been trying to pinpoint the meteorite's location by talking to people
who saw it, then plotting its trajectory from their descriptions.

So far, those descriptions indicate the meteor broke into burning bits that
showered down on an area somewhere between Storm King campground, west of
town, and Creede.

Problem is, everybody who saw the meteor thinks it came down practically in
his backyard.

"I was 150 miles away," said Dick Doyle, 51, who lives 5 miles from Storm
King campground but was guiding a trip down the Chama River when the meteor
lit up the sky about 10:45 that Friday night. "But it was so enormous, we
thought it fell two ridges over."

People who saw the meteor talk of it in terms of wonderment usually reserved
for accounts of unidentified flying objects - of which plenty have been
reported in the valley.

Riff Fenton of Saguache doesn't think what he saw that night was a UFO - "we
knew immediately what it was" - but called it a once-in-a-lifetime
experience. "It lit up the night sky like a skylight," said Fenton, a potter
who with his wife, Marilyn, was driving over Poncha Pass when the meteor
flashed overhead.

"It was like fireworks, except it was going down instead of coming up," he
said. "You know you're looking at a wonderful phenomenon you'll never see

The meteor, naturally, is the talk of the town in Saguache, a community of
584 populated by a mix of Hispanic and Anglo ranchers who have been there
for generations and "the aliens," as people like Don Geddes, who runs
Saguache Gallery & Espresso, describes relative newcomers like himself.

Geddes was lounging in a hot spring, helping a friend celebrate his 50th
birthday, when the meteor put on its display. "The light had a greenish look
- a real deep intensity."

As it would be in any small town, everybody knows who saw the meteor and who
didn't. Ruth Sewell, 84, whose grandfather was the valley's first doctor,
didn't see the meteor, but she's seen plenty of other things in the valley.

"The ice floe," she said, speaking of a pileup of spring ice and snow on
Saguache Creek in the 1970s that became so threatening that the Army Corps
of Engineers bulldozed it. "That was something."

Kay Doyle, who with her husband, Dick, runs La Garita Llama outfitters, took
up the refrain.

"Well, a guy got murdered two canyons down 13, 14 years ago. And there was
Snippy," she said, referring to the Appaloosa filly whose flaying death in
1967 was the first in a string of animal mutilations in the valley that some
people attribute to aliens.

About those aliens ...

A book by valley resident Chris O'Brien, "The Mysterious Valley," outlines
hundreds of supposed UFO and extraterrestrial sightings. There have been so
many that Judy Messoline's UFO Watchtower, on the eastern edge of the
valley, has done a brisk business since opening 18 months ago, attracting
visitors from as far away as Australia, Japan and Russia. Her phone has been
ringing off the hook ever since the meteor fell, said Messoline, who slept
through the sky show.

"Like the other things," she said, quickly outlining a handful of sky
shenanigans she has seen since moving to the valley just six years ago. "I
want an explanation for this. Nobody can tell you what it is."

But David Lawrence, 29, who lives in Crestone, put the valley's phenomena in

It's true, he said: Amazing things happen here all the time.

He gestured toward the sky, where the setting sun flamed red, lighting up
the Sangre de Cristos in a way that underscored their name.

"The spectacular things that happen around here?" he said. "They're called
Received on Mon 03 Sep 2001 12:33:49 AM PDT

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