In 1847.

An Old Capitol Museum staff member holds a fragment of the Marion Meteorite, which landed in Linn Country just hours after the General Assembly of the State of Iowa voted to establish the State University of Iowa in 1847. Interest from a UI graduate student in 1974 ultimately led to the fragment being displayed at the museum, typically on the desk in the President’s Office.

It’s late morning, Thursday, February 25, 1847 in Iowa City, Iowa.

On Capitol Square, the first General Assembly of the newly formed State of Iowa is meeting in the new State Capitol. Iowa, now the 29th state in the Union, is only 59 days old. Yet despite that fact, this forward-looking state legislature, in its second official act, is about to approve a recommendation that this new western state called Iowa, with a total population of just over 100,000 people, will fund a state university of higher learning, located in Iowa City – one that will train our future doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.

The American Journal of Science and Arts (Vol. IV, November 1847) duly notes what occurred next…

[A]n aerolite fell at 3 o’clock in the afternoon of the 25th day of February, 1847, within seventy-five yards of the house of Daniel Rogers, nine miles due south of Marion, Iowa. The ground was covered with snow at the time it fell. Mr. Rogers heard a loud explosion in the air, and immediately ran to his door. He heard the stone and several others whiz through the air, and strike the ground, and saw the snow and dirt fly where this stone struck. The weight of the stone before it was broken was forty-two pounds. … The explosion was heard distinctly by one of the surveyors who was engaged on the survey of the public lands, forty miles distant from Mr. Rogers’ house.

Yes. Within a few hours of the very moment our State Legislature voted to establish The State University of Iowa, a meteorite crashed to the ground in rural Linn County near the Cedar River, less than 30 miles from Iowa City. The sonic boom was so loud, it was heard throughout the countryside and, as reported above, attracted considerable attention at the time.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS IOWA STORY HERE


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