A few minutes after midnight on Thursday, March 27, 2003, Park Forest, Illinois was the target of a rain of rocks. Police Department switchboards lit up, and shortly thereafter, meteorite aficionados from around the world descended on the Chicago suburb in droves. |
As soon as I could, I flew to Chicago, drove to the area, and spent a few days hunting for stones, but by the time I got there, most of the more easily found specimens had been snapped up from streets, parks, and homeowners fortunate enough to find them on their property. It was fun though, to meet so many of my fellow space-rock enthusiasts all in one place, with a common purpose!
Some of the usual suspects (and most successful meteorite-guys) take a break from hunting the neighborhood…. Robert Haag, Marvin Killgore, Steve Witt, and Rob Elliott
Certainly the most remarkable meteorite impact of the Park Forest fall occurred at the home of Noe Garza. His son Robert awoke to the sound of something crashing through his bedroom ceiling. A stone had struck the roof, split into pieces, penetrated his bedroom ceiling, bounced off the windowsill and ricocheted around the room, destroying a sliding glass closet door in the process. Notice the force with which the rocks struck the steel windowsill…and the proximity to the boy’s sleeping head at the moment of impact!
I spent some time at the Garza home and at the Park Forest Police Department - at that point, the rocks were officially considered “evidence” of the damage inflicted.
After Mr. Garza was able to retrieve his new souvenirs from the Police Department’s possession, he began negotiating their sale. Thanks entirely to Rob Elliott, I was able to obtain an extraordinary fragment of this meteorite fall, an area which had struck the windowsill itself. Note the embedded grayish paint, fused to the surface by the heat of the impact!
I continued to hunt (WOW, was it cold!) with Rob and a noted Chicago native - college professor, planetary geologist, and Antarctic explorer Paul Sipiera. Paul (on right, below) noticed a disturbance in the grass at the base of a telephone pole….and started digging. Luck was with him, a baseball sized individual was to be found about 6-8 inches down into the earth.
The Park Forest fall was great fun, for the travel, adventure, camaraderie, and the “thrill of the hunt”. And now, we wait……