Aug. 7, 1823: Maine’s first recorded meteorite falls between 4 and 5 p.m. in Nobleboro, startling a nearby flock of sheep when it hits the ground.

Mr. A. Dinsmore, who looks for the rock after hearing what he later says sounded like musket fire, digs down about 6 inches and recovers 5 or 6 pounds of a mass that smells like sulfur. The fallen object – only the second reported in the United States – proves to be achondrite, a type representing only 3 percent of all recovered meteorites. Samples of it are now in museum collections around the world.

The sky unleashes another surprise at 4:15 a.m. May 20, 1848, in Castine. Charles Blaisdell finds a single stone about the size of a hen’s egg, composed mostly of olivine, pyroxene and nickel-iron. The American Journal of Science carries an account of the find, and once again, parts of it are distributed around the world.

Maine’s next extraterrestrial gem plops into a field at 8:15 a.m. May 21, 1871, in Searsmont – oddly, not far from Nobleboro and Castine, and almost equidistant between the two. This one, about 2 pounds, is about 90 percent iron, 9 percent nickel and a trace of cobalt.

As if the state had signed up with some cosmic book-of-the-month club – except the book is a stone and the month is actually about a quarter-century – another meteorite falls on Aug. 5, 1898, on Lincoln Dresser’s farm in Andover, generating a noise like a buzz saw as it falls. Dresser recovers a 7-plus-pound chunk and some smaller ones that fragmented when they hit a stone wall.

Finally, a 1978 newspaper report tells of Mark L. Smith, who was fixing a shed roof at his father’s poultry farm in North Yarmouth when he noticed a hole in the roof. A small black stone was nestled inside. He and his father take it to the University of Southern Maine, where it is identified as a meteorite.

The five meteorites recovered so far in Maine come from at least three parent bodies. The Maine Geological Survey theorizes that many more have fallen in the state without being recovered or even observed.

According to the agency, the largest recorded meteorite to fall anywhere on Earth is a 60-ton monster called the Hoba Meteorite, which is found in 1920 in what now is the African country of Namibia.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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