Renshaw to Speak at Paragould Meteorite Anniversary

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Kenneth Renshaw with samples of moon rocks loaned to him by NASA

The Greene County Museum will host a special event in recognition of the 85th anniversary of the Paragould meteorites on Feb. 28. The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Legacy Room at the Greene County Library, located at 120 North 12th Street in Paragould.

Kenneth Renshaw of Piggott, a native of Paragould, will be the guest speaker. Renshaw is well-known throughout the region as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and a member of NASA's Saturn Observation Campaign.

Renshaw will lead a discussion on the meteorites which crashed into the ground in the Finch community, located just southwest of Paragould, at 4:08 a.m. on Feb. 17, 1930. He will also display a sample of the Greene County meteorite as well as some moon rocks and soil brought back by the Apollo astronauts. The Apollo items are currently on loan from NASA.

Pictured is a piece of the smaller Paragould meteorite, chipped-off 85 years ago by Tellas Treece, a lifelong resident of Finch. The chip of the famous meteorite remains in the family to this day.(courtesy photo)

Accounts from the time indicate the residents of Greene County, especially those in the Finch area, were jarred awake that night 85 years ago. In reaction to the impact some thought the world was ending, a plane had crashed, or a severe storm was brewing.

But those theories were later proved wrong, as they had actually heard three sonic booms, the result of meteorites crashing onto their farms and into surrounding fields.

And, little did local residents know at the time--but the accompanying fireball was seen in several states around Arkansas.

Two meteorite pieces were later found. And, based on the fact there were three booms, it was believed that a third meteorite had fallen, but it was never found.

The largest of the meteorites weighed 820 pounds, and at the time it was the largest sample to be seen. Today it is ranked as the world's fourth largest stony meteorite.

It was found near Old Bethel Methodist Church, located off Hwy 358. Accounts of the time indicated it was so large that a team of men and horses worked several hours to recover it from the crater it had made upon impact. In time, it was donated to the Field Museum in Chicago, and in 1988 it was loaned to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where it remains on display today.

The second meteorite was found about three miles away from the largest one in a field north of the Finch Baptist Church, and weighed about 80 pounds. It is displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The Greene County Museum welcomes everyone to attend the meteorite anniversary program, which will include an open forum on the subject. Museum officials noted some area residents chipped pieces from the meteorites, meaning a few fragments of the Paragould meteorite still exist among members of the public. They requested those who possess samples to bring them to the event for display, and offered a special welcome those with stories and memories to share.

There is no charge for admission to the program. Those wanting additional information may visit the Greene County Museum Facebook page or call them at 870 239-8697.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: