The Correspondence of, and to, Charles Hoy Fort

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X

Fort to the Philadelphia Public Ledger

(Published July 27, 1924)

"Red Lizards, Snakes and Frogs Out of the Sky"

A Gentleman of London Seeks Information on These Phenomena, and Offers a Theory

To the Editor of the Public Ledger:


When upon January 15, 1877, thousands of snakes poured from the sky into the streets of Memphis, Tenn., they were incredibly explained.

My own preference is for the ideas that they came from some other world and not through an intensely cold void, such as is popularly supposed to surround this earth, but by way of a warm air current, which explorers from this earth may some day traverse; that they came from some other world which is not millions of miles away.

And so I think of the thousands of red lizards which, upon July 19, 1886, may have come down in a scarlet flood from the sky in Pennsylvania.

The Monthly Weather Review, whatever it may be in the view of some persons, has no popular reputation as a jest book; also the Scientific American is no barbershop periodical. I take the story of the snakes of Memphis from the Monthly Weather Review, January, 1877, and the Scientific American, Volume XXXVI, page 86. It is said that upon the 15th of January, 1877, in the streets and yards of Memphis, after a violent thunderstorm, thousands of black snakes from a foot to eighteen inches long were found. There is no record of anybody who was out in the storm having seen snakes fall, but it was accepted that they had fallen from the sky.

The explanation had to account for the homogeneousness of the snakes. Why was it that only snakes fell with the rain? Also, but above everything else, when we think of how hard scientists fought to exclude data even of stones falling from the sky before Chladni's time, and then did their stoutest to exclude all falls except of a particular kind of stones, but are now abandoning that exclusion, we know that it had to be explained that these creatures did not come from anywhere beyond this earth. Defeat after defeat has come upon scientists for holding out for this earth's isolation, but for the salvation of as much as possible of their dogmas they are as resolute as ever they were. So it was explained that a whirlwind had picked up, from some other part of this earth's surface, tremendous masses of detachable objects and substances and had segregated them, according to specific gravity, so that fence rails, for instance, all fell together somewhere, large stones in a shower somewhere else, then snakes, which had been hibernating in the seized upon ground, pebbles further along, grasses and dried leaves of trees still further away, and then a final discharge of dust.

But in all my reading upon meteorological subjects I have never come across one instance of such separated falls by segregative wind action. In other issues of the Monthly Weather Review the homogeneousness of falls of frogs from the sky is so explained. How is it that when, in tremendous numbers, little frogs fall from the sky they are unmixed with other objects and substances? Always the explanation is that other things which have been caught up with the frogs by a whirlwind had fallen elsewhere in equally unmixed showers, but never is cited one known instance of such segregations by whirlwinds. Circumstances are the same with attempts in European scientific publications to account for the homogeneousness of hundreds of thousands of larvae which have six or seven times fallen from the sky in Switzerland. For some of the records see Flammarion's "The Atmosphere," page 414; "La Science Pour Tous," 14-183; "L'Astronomie," 1890, 313. Segregation, it is said, but never one instance that has ever been known to occur.

Then, if arrivals upon this earth of enormous numbers of living things never have been explained in terrestrial terms, I don't know of anything else left except to try in other terms.

In the Public Ledger, July 23, 1886, it is said that upon the morning of the 19th of July, at Hobdys Mills, Pa., after a severe rainstorm, the ground was found to be covered with bright red lizards; roads and fields scarlet with them. They were an inch and a half long; row of small black spots on each side. It seems that all were alive. In two hours all had crawled out of sight.

Of course, there may be no such place as Hobdys Mills, Pa. Neithe rin the heavens above nor anywhere else may there be little red lizards with black spots on them. But so definite are so many similar stories, some of which have been investigated, that it seems that arrivals there have been upon this earth like migrations from the sky. For a few of the many records see "Comptes Rendus," 3, 54; "Notes and Queries," 8-6, 104 and 190; "Scientific American," July 12, 1873; "Zoologist," 1859, 6493; "American Journal of Science," 32, 190; "Nature," September 19, 1918; "Science Gossip," 1886, 238; "Das Wetter," December, 1892; "L'Astronomie," 1880, 253.

July, 1886, was long ago, but if there is such a place as Hobdys Mills, and if the little red lizards with black spots did fall from the sky, some of them may be preserved to this day in somebody's collection of curiosities. If anybody can send information to me at my present address, 39 Marchmont street, Russell Square, London, England, it may be that we can have data upon a fall from the sky of living creatures unknown upon this earth. The phenomena look to me like migrations from unknown worlds not far away.

As to other data of other flotsam from other worlds, I have hundreds of records of falls from the sky of objects and substances, some of them unknown upon this earth, some of them living things known but falling at times unseasonable for them upon this earth; all of them living things, objects, substances never traced to origin upon this earth; all of them indicating that this earth is no more isolated in space than was Europe from America before the year 1492. But the isolation of science from recognition of data has been similar.

I have many data — available if required — which indicates that there may be warm air currents in outer space. My suggestion is that between this earth and other worlds there may be definite currents to which living things in other worlds respond migratorily. If living things can come to this earth from other worlds, we have the material for visions such as have not excited imaginations upon this earth since the year 1492.

CHARLES FORT. London, July 14, 1924.

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