What Happened And Where?
What would a person expect on a happy summer day with a clear sky? Peace? But Allen Crouch found meat raining down on her. On 3rd March 1876, large chunks of flesh fell from the sky over Olympia Springs in Bath County, Kentucky. Allen Couch was out on her field making soap when “the meat, which looked like beef, fell all around her.” The sky was perfectly clear at the time, and she said “it fell like large snowflakes” as reported in New York Times in the following week. Most of the pieces were approximately 5 centimetres (2.0 in) square; at least one was 10 centimetres (3.9 in) square.
The Local Interpretation
It sure turned out to be a fun day for the dogs and cats who devoured the substance with relish and it also brought in the attention of media and other people at Olympia Springs in Bath County. Two men who tasted it were determined that it was either “venison or mutton”. The local butcher declared that it looked like mutton to him but the smell was different; it was neither flesh or fowl or fish for sure to him. Another explanation suggested by Crouches and chemist Robert Peter was that the meat was simply vomit by a passing flock of vultures “ who had been feasting themselves more abundantly than wisely” on a carcass. But how big was the flock that it could cover 500 square yards?
The Scholars Speak
The mysterious rain that had got the world talking had to be solved. Alexander Tenny Parker took it onto himself and he transported the sample of the meat around the country (Not to common people, of course). Leopold Brandies, writing in a journal called the Sanitarian declared that “it was a Nostoc, a strange looking vegetable mass (now recognized as cyanobacteria) consisting of translucent, gelatinous bodies joined together by thread-like tubes or seed-bearers.”
Doctors Allan MClane Hamilton and J.W.S. Arnold identified it as a lung tissue either of a horse of a human infant. Meanwhile Dr Mead Edwards after examination determined that the bits of pieces were of cartilage. Edwards concluded that they definitely were of animal origin.
According to “New York Time March 11, 1876” and “New York Times, march 12 1876” Capt J.M Bent of Mount Sterling arrived in Louisville with samples on March 10th. These samples when examined by Professor Lawewnce Smith were determined to be “dried spawn of babechian reptiles”. He thought that the wind transported it from ponds or swampy grounds. He also referenced a similar flesh fall from 1675 in Ireland- as recorded by Muschenbroeck.
Although different people had different things to say about the meat, the inexplicable incident was not forgotten and research on it went on. Charles Fort in “The Book Of Damned”, 1919, suggests and then dismisses the idea that the meat could have been star jelly. It smells like rotting flesh and sublimates within 24 hours of landing on ground.This idea is dismissed by Fort as it does not address the fact that blood was scattered about the ground. This single fact also dismisses the Nostoc and Frog Spawn explanations.
Whatever it had been and however it came, the Meat Rain was surely a blessing to the cats and dogs and probably a warning to humankind.