Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

Pennsylvania Meteorites

Iron Meteorites
Iron Meteorites
(clockwise from top):
The New Baltimore,
The Shrewsbury
,
and The Pittsburgh
From: Pennsylvania
Photo:  Tom Barr

Only eight meteorites have been found in Pennsylvania—five iron meteorites and three stony meteorites. Most of these are named for the location where they were found.

1. The Pittsburgh
While plowing his fields in 1850, a farmer picked up this meteorite to kill a snake. Realizing it was remarkably heavy but not knowing its origins, he took the "iron stone" to Pittsburgh to be wrought into an iron bar. Fortunately, Professor B. Silliman, Jr., of Yale College acquired a portion of it before it was destroyed. Little did Snyder know that he had discovered Pennsylvania's first meteorite!

2. The Mount Joy
In 1887 Jacob Snyder discovered the largest meteorite found east of the Mississippi River while planting an apple tree near his home.  Assuming it indicated the presence of an iron mine nearby, Snyder searched diligently for one–to no avail.  The meteorite's origin remained a mystery until it was analyzed four years later at the Smithsonian Institution. A piece of this meteorite resides in the collection of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

3. The Bald Eagle
Railroad workers unearthed this fungus-covered meteorite while collecting stones for a roadbed in 1891. Buried under several feet of stones, it had obviously fallen many years earlier. It was eventually presented to Bucknell University, where it was analyzed and its unusual snakelike patterns studied.

4. The Shrewsbury
In 1907 a farmer plowed up this 24 pound (10.9 kg) meteorite while working in his fields. It resembled a rusty brown, smooth-angled rhombohedron (a six-sided prism with parallelogram faces). A piece of this meteorite resides in the collection of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Stony Meteorites
Stony Meteorites
(left to right):
The Black Moshannon Park,
The Bradford Woods,

and The Chicora
Found: Pennsylvania
Photo: Tom Barr

5. The New Baltimore
This meteorite was discovered in 1923 by Jefferson Long, also a farmer.  It was described by Dr. G.P. Merrill, of the Smithsonian Institution, as "wholly unlike anything I have before met with."

6. The Bradford Woods
While husking corn in 1886, farmer George Hillman heard "a loud explosion, a hissing sound, and a thud nearby as if something hit the ground."  Upon exploring a roadside ditch, he found the still-warm specimen, which he described as being shaped like an "old-fashioned biscuit." This piece resides in the collections of Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

7. The Chicora
In 1938 scores of eyewitnesses observed a huge fireball streaking over western Pennsylvania and making an explosive roar. This meteorite may have struck a cow as it fell into a field. The original meteor, before partially disintegrating, may have weighed 510 tons!

8. The Black Moshannon Park
In 1941 Robert H. Reed reported, "I heard a strange whirring noise as if a million bumble bees had been disturbed."  What he heard was a meteor landing just four feet from his son, who was sleeping in a tent.

Meteorite sites
Map of Pennsylvania Meteorite Sites

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