Oroville Meteorite on Display

Apr 6, 2012 7:57 PM

A meteor exploded above Table Mountain in 1892, and this particular fragment was found a year later... But it hasn't been back in the north state since then.

"If you had been right in between Chico and Oroville, you would have seen this big flash over Table Mountain." Paradise Gem and Mineral Show chairman Manuel Garcia is talking about this meteorite. This 42 pound chunk of space rock was discovered 119 years ago.

The story goes, a meteorite exploded above Table Mountain in 1892.. And just one year later, the fragment was found. Garcia explains, "That piece was found near 149 and 99. That's a couple miles away."

The meteorite was on display that next year, at a drug store in Oroville, then purchased by the California Academy of Science. After being displayed in San Francisco, it got mixed up in a group of meteorites and shipped off to England.

It went missing for 60 years, until a geologist from Los Angeles noticed it. "He recognized it as the Oroville meteorite because he had worked at the Getty Museum and seen the slice that was cut off of this," says Garcia.

It was brought back to San Francisco, matched with slabs cut off of it in 1895, and has been on display ever since. And having it back in Butte County for the first time since it was discovered, Garcia says, it's something worth seeing. "How often do you get a chance to see butte county history? It's just fantastic. It really is!"

And just to give an example of how rare this fragment actually is... "How much more of it is out there? The remaining 80 tons," laughs Garcia.

The meteorite will be on display at the Paradise Elks Lodge Saturday from 9 a-m to 5 p-m and Sunday from 9 to 4 p-m.


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