In February, 2013 a small asteroid exploded in the skies above Chelyabinsk in western Russia. The Chelyabinsk airburst was major news, in part because the modern Russian habit of installing dashboard cameras in private vehicles provided dramatic videos of the event.
Coverage of the Chelyabinsk event stands in stark contrast to the item clipped in this post. I screengrabbed the article from the front page of the February 27, 1914 Washington Herald. It may be hard to read, so here’s the text:
METEORITE DESTROYS HOUSES.
Huge Aerolite Fell in Village in Polish Province of Kielce
Warsaw, Russian Poland, Feb. 26.–A number of houses were destroyed by a huge meteorite which descended today in the village of Jendkovitzy, in the Polish province of Kielce. The aerolite emitted sulphurous fumes.
So it’s clear: the damned thing didn’t just destroy houses, it emitted fumes. According to this report, anyway.
I searched other American papers (including the New York Times) for further mentions and found the same item. I tried some searches of European publications, but they’re hard to access without paying. So I went to the English website for Kielce, today a city of over 200,000, and its history page has zilch on a 1914 meteorite powerful enough to destroy homes and dispense mysterious fumes.
Did it happen? There may be some Polish geologists or historians who know. I just think given the “sulphurous fumes” bit, we may be lucky some otherworldly gas didn’t cause World War Z in place of World War I.
Which was bad enough.