A century ago, on the eve of Thanksgiving, Michiganns saw something that would leave their mark on their memory, according tomedia. Just before 8 p.m., an unusual light cut through the darkness, while the entire Great Lakes region was shrouded in fog and heavy rain.
“Roads, trees, houses and even ourselves are bathed in a dazzling phosphorous glow that has a bright streak in the sky above our heads,” Leroy Milhan, director of highway construction in Senteville, Michigan, recalls in a paper published the following year. It leaped over us and went west. And immediately there was a loud noise, shaking houses and the earth as if it were an earthquake. “
The next day, the Washington Times reported that what scientists believe was an extraordinary phenomenon of a giant meteor, causing telegraph, telecommunications and power lighting plants in several cities in southern Michigan and northern Indiana to shut down.
Three communities in Bartel creek, Srioaks and Athens reported property damage, and an earthquake was said to have occurred that lasted a full three minutes, followed by heavy rain, storms, a thunderous sound and flashes longer than lightning.
For the earthquake that night, scientists thought the chances of a meteor causing it were slim. But reports from a century ago, particularly in the region, of broken windows, are strikingly similar to those experienced by residents of Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.
Chelyabinsk crater is the most powerful of its kind in recent decades, and while there is no comparable data on the 1919 impact, eyewitness accounts make it look comparable to what happened in Russia in the early 2000s.
A news headline in Grand Rapids Press took a semi-joking approach to the incident: Either a meteor falls into a lake or an earthquake, or the aurora is – or something happened. “
Either way, no one seems to have actually seen a meteor hit the Earth’s surface at close range, but it does seem to have landed in or near a lake.