[meteorite-list] Elma Field Report Part 1
adamhupe at comcast.net
Thu Jul 17 21:36:34 EDT 2003
Elma Meteorite Field Update Part 1.
We thought List members might be interested in a report from the field
concerning the Elma incident.
Greg and I arrived in Elma at 11:00 a.m. yesterday to find several dozen
people searching for meteorites in the shot-put area next to the Elma High
School running track. There was an unbelievable amount of news networks
covering this story, at least four major networks. We were dispatched by
the University of Washington to investigate the suspected meteorites and to
report our findings directly to them. Before we had a chance to look at
what was being found we had to locate our contact Levi, of the Daily World.
Levi found us in the crowd and put us in touch directly with the three young
men who witnessed the fireball and presumably found some material.
Picture of School:
As soon as everybody saw us interviewing the teenagers several news teams
with their cameras ran over to where we were and asked if we were the
officials who were there to give the final word on the incident. We
explained that we would be happy to offer an opinion on the material that
was being found but we needed time to examine the hundreds of black pebbles
that were being recovered from the shot-put pit. As I looked around I saw a
familiar face in the crowd, a competitor. Thinking we may have been scooped
we asked what his opinion was. We were told he would not offer an opinion.
Knowing this competitor knows what a meteorite looks like we feared that
what was being found was not meteoritic. This left it up to us to break the
bad news to the excited crowd.
Shot Put Pit:
We relocated to the bleachers and opened our kit to examine the stones that
were being found. We used a loop, a magnet and if needed some chemicals to
determine the hundreds of stones being pulled from the pit were terrestrial.
This is not what everybody wanted to hear and it put us in the awkward
position of announcing to the crowd and news teams that everybody was on the
wrong track. We pulled out some real meteorites and showed them to the
crowd so that they would have a better idea of what to look for. Knowing
there was the possibility of disappointment we brought some NWA meteorites
to donate to some of the crowd. That way sincere searchers were not left
empty handed and the freebies were greatly appreciated. More importantly,
it sparked an interest in meteoritics and the crowd responded by asking
dozens of questions. After they examined real meteorites some of them
dispersed to other parts of the town in search of the real thing. We told
them if they found anything of interest we were going to the "Rusty Tractor"
for lunch, then to a quarry to hunt for some fossils and then onto the
The Rusty Tractor:
We arrived at the "Rusty Tractor" to find a large contingent decided to join
us for lunch. The locals suggested rattlesnake eggs and tractor treads for
appetizers followed by the main course, a giant yak burger. The lunch was
not half bad and we had some great conversations with the locals who told us
some interesting facts about Elma. The population of Elma is about 3,600
and that the meteor was the biggest news to hit this little town since the
great bank robbery of 1914 and the Tractor tragedy of 1929:
The Great Bank Robbery of 1914
The bank robbery of 1914 rocked the little town of Elma, Washington. $4,280
was lifted in the heist. The robbers overlooked another $7,500 in plain
site on the cashiers desk, taken from the vault just minutes before. Shots
were fired, but nobody was injured. The gang was eventually apprehended in
Tractor Tragedy of 1929
One stormy day, in 1929, George Mouncer, of Elma, was out on his "rusty"
tractor at the Oaksridge Golf Course when, suddenly, his tractor was struck
by lightning. George was thrown nearly 30 feet and was "out" for some time.
He had to be carried in by his cousin, Lee. Fortunately, George suffered no
ill effects from the strike, besides shock and a rather severe headache.
Rusty Tractor Menu:
Later into the lunch John Cornish joined us. We were surprised to see
another familiar face, which had not been seen by us since Tucson. We
talked for some time about meteorites and decided it was time to go to the
quarry and search for fossils while the rest of the town was looking for
To be continued see part two
[meteorite-list] Elma Field Report Part 2
adamhupe at comcast.net
Thu Jul 17 21:41:15 EDT 2003
Elma Meteorite Field Update Part 2.
We headed to the quarry and looked around guided by the locals who showed us
their town's most secretive spots. Within 10 minutes Greg found a nodule
containing several nice fossils. A teenager came up to us with what looked
like an iron meteorite but not from the meteor sighting a few days ago as it
is somewhat weathered. We asked where it was found and he pointed out the
site. The search then turned from fossils back to meteorites but no more
were found. We can hardly wait to cut this suspected meteorite and see if
it will etch. It looks very promising so we will keep our fingers crossed.
The group decided it was time to go to the bowling alley and see if anything
else showed up. We arrived just in time to see everybody on the news.
After trying to watch several channels at once we decided we would bowl with
the locals for awhile. Needless to say they mopped the floor with us
because they spend a lot of time at the alley for entertainment, there is
not much to do in this friendly town.
The Infamous Bowling Alley:
Being thirsty we decided the cocktail lounge looked pretty good next to the
bowling alley. We parted the doors and peered in. After our eyes adjusted
to the dark we could make out the outlines of several incredibly nice
looking girls. All I could think is, "Wow, we have hit a treasure trove" as
I entered the saloon. Pretty soon one of the bar patrons asked, "Are you
one of those meteorite dudes I saw on TV?" We said "why yes." Then a
couple of gorgeous looking girls came over and sat down next to us. I
thought to myself "This is what it is all about." Everything was fine
until one of them smiled, half of her teeth were in horrible shape! Greg
whispered "Nothing that $8,000.00 couldn't fix." Trying to be polite we
talked to the local women for hours. I could tell that a tanked up patron
named, Rocky, was starting to get jealous. He stumbled over and asked to
see one of the so-called "meteors" we were trying to impress the town with.
He then offered to trade a fifth of Jack Daniel's for a 2-kilo specimen we
had brought for show-and-tell. We turned him down which upset him more and
then he asked, "Do you know what you guys are turning down?" Rather than
answering him we sent him a shot of JD which seemed to calm his nerves.
A Proposed Trade and a Wingman Boilermaker:
I went back to the bowling alley for a few moments to see if anything had
showed up, no luck. I returned to the saloon to find that the girl had
purchased me a drink. It was a beer with a shot of JD hanging off the side
of it. I had never seen a shot glass with a hook on the side of it. It
looked like some kind of boilermaker to me. I asked the bartender what the
drink was all about. She said, if a girl buys you a drink you are supposed
to ask for her phone number. I asked her for her phone number to be polite
and was told I had to slurp down the concoction first without spilling any
on myself. The only rule was I had to leave the shot on the side of the
glass. Thinking this was impossible I turned to Greg for a solution. He
pulled out two straws and slurped on them at the same time. I am glad he
had to drink this volatile mixture because I wanted to drive out of there
that evening. If we had not left that evening we would have had to
possibly stay at the "Snore and Whiskers Motel" in Aberdeen, not a pretty
We promised the town we would be back for the outlaw dirt-track races at the
end of August and that I would call the nice girl with the bad teeth. Only
after considering offers of putting us up for the night and a promise to
return were we allowed to leave. We will keep our promise to this little
town and return for some more great hospitality, hopefully some meteorites
will be found by then.