The meteorite at the Presque Isle Fair
Among Olof Nylander’s many writings is an article about a Meteorite exhibit at the Presque Isle Fair in 1935. This writing has been edited.
“Object of fiction, facts, and fancies have to be exhibited at any good fair in order to satisfy the Saints, Sinners, and ordinary visitors. The air-minded, the high spirited, horse racers, betters, gamblers, and criticizers are all ready for an argument. Four fine days of sunshine and thousands of the best looking people, old and young and middle-aged attended the fair.
“The exhibits were excellent but not quite up to 1934 in number in some of the departments.
“Many visitors … spent their 10 cents to visit the small tent where the small metal piece said to have come from heaven was posed on a cushion under a glass globe and called by the exhibitor, “A Meteorite,” that had been collected in Westfield, Aroostook County, Maine, at haying time. After the Fair had fairly opened, so many came to me for information that I went to see the object, and was told by the exhibitor that the specimen was the most important object at the Fair grounds.
“The owner most graciously let me take the specimen out for examination and its golden luster and its softness reminded me very much of a gold nugget, but not like any Meteorite that I have seen in the large Museums that I have been able to visit. I made up my mind to make no comment and say as little as possible about the specimen. Friends and strangers along on the Fair grounds, on the street and everywhere I went wanted my opinion and I had to make the statement, “It’s not a Meteorite.”
“Home again after the fair I have been devoting all my time looking through my books and there are hundreds of articles, and illustration of Meteorites but nothing like the Westfield specimen. In my publications there is a record of four Meteorites, namely from Maine, Andover, Nobleborough, Searsmont, and Castine.
“The nearest to a Meteorite found in Aroostook County is a kidney shaped piece of iron found in a gravel pit in Caribou during the construction of the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad; this specimen I gave to the U.S. National Museum.
“There is in my possession a fine specimen which was found in Woodland some years ago which is probably of a Meteorite origin, it is as large as a Man’s fist, smooth and finely preserved, though it has never been exhibited, and I have never made any effort to make it known.”
Many years have passed since Mr. Nylander’s writings about meteorites in the county. Are you aware of any rocks ‘from heaven’ appearing in the area or folklore of such? If so, let the Nylander Museum know through the Facebook page. Better yet, make a visit and share your story with one of the volunteers or summer interns.
This column is the work of members of the Nylander Museum’s Board of Trustees.