New Lands

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X





IN Coconino County, Arizona, is an extraordinary formation. It is known as Coon Butte and as Crater Mountain. Once upon a time, something gouged this part of Arizona. The cavity in the ground is about 3,800 feet in diameter, and it is approximately 600 feet deep, from the rim of the ramparts to the floor of the interior. Out from this cavity had been hurled blocks of limestone, some of them a mile or so away, some of these masses weighing probably 5,000 tons each. And in the formation, and around it, have been found either extraordinary numbers of meteorites, or fragments of one super-meteorite. Barringer, in his report to the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia (Proceedings A.N.S.P., Dec., 1905), says that, of the traffickers in this meteoritic material, he knew of two men who had shipped away fifteen tons of it.(1) But Barringer's minimum estimate of a body large enough so to gouge the ground is ten million tons.

It was supposed that a main mass of meteoritic material was buried under the floor of the formation, but this floor was drilled, and nothing was found to support this supposition. One drill went down 1020 feet, going through 100 feet of red sandstone, which seems to be the natural, undisturbed sub-structure. The datum that opposes most strongly the idea that this pit was gouged by one super-meteorite is that in it and around it at least three kinds of meteorites have been found: they are irons, masses of iron-shale, and shale-balls that are so rounded and individualized that they cannot be thought of as fragments of a greater body, and cannot be very well thought of as great drops of molten matter cast from a main, incandescent mass, inasmuch as there is not a trace of igneous rock such as would mark such contact.

There are data for thinking that these three kinds of objects fell at different times, presumably from origin of fixed position relatively to this point in Arizona. With the formation, shales [210/211] were found, buried at various distances, as if they had fallen at different times, for instance seven of them in a vertical line, the deepest buried 27 feet down; also shales outside the formation were found buried. But, quite as if they had fallen more recently, the hundreds of irons were found upon the surface of the ground, or partly covered, or wholly covered, but only with superficial soil.

There is no knowing when this great gouge occurred, but cedars upon the rim are said to be 700 years old.

In terms of our general expression upon differences of potential, and of electric relations between nearby worlds, I think of a blast between this earth and a land somewhere else, and of something that was more than a cyclone that gouged this pit.

Other meteorites have been found in Arizona: the 85-pound iron that was found at Weaver, near Wickenburg, 130 miles from Crater Mountain, in 1898, and the 960-pound mass, now in the National Museum, said to have been found at Peach Springs, 140 miles from Crater Mountain. These two irons indicate nothing in particular; but, if we accept that somewhere else in Arizona there is another deposit of meteorites, also extraordinarily abundant, such abundance gives something of commonness of nature if not of commonness of origin to two deposits. There are several large irons known as the Tucson meteorites, one weighing 632 pounds and another 1514 pounds, now in museums. They came from a place known as Iron Valley, in the Santa Rita Mountains, about 30 miles south of Tucson, and about 200 miles from the Crater Mountain. Iron Valley was so named because of the great number of meteorites found in it. According to the people of Tucson, this fall occurred about the year 1660. See Amer. Jour. Sci., 2-13-290.(2)

Upon June 24, 1905, Barringer found, upon the plain, about a mile and a half northwest of Crater Mountain, a meteorite of a fourth kind. It was a meteoritic stone, "as different from all the other specimens as one specimen could be from another." Barringer thinks that it fell, about the 15th of January, 1904. Upon a night in the middle of January, 1904, two of his employees were awakened by a loud hissing sound, and saw a meteor falling north of the formation. At the same time, two Arizona [211/212] physicians, north of the formation, saw the meteor falling south of them. For analysis and description of this object, see Amer. Jour. Sci., 4-21-353.(3) Barringer, who believes that once upon a time one super-meteorite, of which only a very small part has ever been found, gouged this hole in the ground, writes — "That a small stony meteorite should have fallen on almost exactly the same spot on this earth's surface as the great Canon Diablo iron meteorite fell many centuries ago, is certainly a most remarkable coincidence. I have stated the facts as accurately as possible, and I have no opinion to offer, as to whether or not these involve anything more than a coincidence."(4)

Other phenomena in Arizona:

Upon Feb. 24, 1897, a great explosion was heard over the town of Tombstone. It is said that a fragment of a meteor fell at St. David (Monthly Weather Review, 1897-56).(5) Yarnell, Arizona, Sept. 12, 1898 — "a loud, deep, thundering noise" that was heard between noon and 1 P.M. "The noise proceeded from the Granite Range, this side of Prescott. From all accounts, a large meteor struck the earth at this time" (U.S. Weather Bureau Rept., Ariz. Section, Sept., 1898).(6)

Upon July 19, 1912, at Holbrook, Arizona, about 50 miles from Crater Mountain, occurred a loud detonation and one of the most remarkable falls of stones recorded. See Amer. Jour. Sci., 4-34-437.(7) Some of the stones are very small. About 14,000 were collected. Only twice, since the year 1800, have stones in greater numbers fallen from the sky to this earth, according to conventional records.

About a month later (Aug. 18) there was another concussion at Holbrook. This was said to be an earthquake (Bull. Seis. Soc. Amer., 1-209).(8)


1. Daniel Moreau Barringer. "Coon Mountain and its crater." Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 57 (1905): 861-86. The Canon Diablo meteorite is referred to here.

2. John L. LeConte. "Notice of a meteoric iron in the Mexican province of Sonora." American Journal of Science, s. 2, 13 (1852): 289-90. The Spanish name for the location is "Cañada de Hierro." The Weaver Mountains meteorite was found in 1898. Fort identifies the Wallapei meteorite from Peach Springs, Arizona, (probably from a contemporary report, as the date given for its discovery is 1927, a few years after the publication of this book).

3. J.W. Mallet. "A stony meteorite from Coon Butte, Arizona." American Journal of Science, s. 4, 21 (1906): 347-55.

4. Daniel Moreau Barringer. "Coon Mountain and its crater." Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 57 (1905): 861-86, at 883-4. Correct quote: "This is as different from all the other meteorite specimens which we have examined, which have come from this locality, as one specimen can be from another."

5. "Fall of an aerolite in Arizona." Monthly Weather Rreview, 25 (February 1897): 56-7.

6. "Notes from the September reports of the climate and crop sections." Monthly Weather Review, 26 (October 1898): 463-4, c.v. "Arizona." Correct quote: "...a deep thundering noise was heard between noon and 1 p.m., September 12, proceeding from the Granite Range, between this station (Yarnell) and Prescott...from all accounts a large meteor...."

7. Warren M. Foote. "Preliminary note on the shower of meteoric stones...." American Journal of Science, s. 4, 34 (1912): 437-56. Holbrook is said to be sixty miles away from Crater Mountain, not fifty miles away. Apart from the Holbrook meteorite, the two great meteorite falls were at Pultusk, Poland, on January 30, 1868, with about 100,000 stones, and at Möcs, Hungary, on February 3, 1882, with over 100,000 stones.

8. "An Arizona earthquake." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 2 (September 1912): 209. At O'Leary Peak, Arizona, black smoke was seen as if coming from a "volcano," which was thought to be the source of the noise heard over an area ranging 250 miles from east to west and 100 miles north to south. Susan M. Dubois et al. Arizona Earthquakes, 1776-1980, p. 86.

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