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Meteorite Mountain

from The Valdez Miner, July 9, 1927; 
Whatever doubt may have existed as to the nature of the disturbance which occurred in Craig basin, about 15 miles from Valdez, last January [1927], was set to rest last week when John DeHart and Peter Mass visited the scene, and returned with a series of photographs, 30 in number, taken by Mr. Maas, who is an expert photographer, which demonstrates that the theory of a huge landslide is erroneous.

About two months ago John DeHart, who resides near 11 mile, on the Richardson Highway, reported that early in January, about 7 o'clock in the evening, there occurred a tremendous vibration of the atmosphere which shook his cabin. The weather was stormy and a dense fog hid everything, and while he saw no light, he was convinced the disturbance was caused by a falling meteor, which had passed not far away.

The following day he started a search for the supposed meteor and finally discovered steam or smoke arising from the side of a mountain about four miles away. From the top of the peak, which is the highest in the range, a dark spot, many yards in width and of unknown length stood out sharply against the surrounding snowbanks. This satisfied Mr. DeHart that a meteor of huge size had fallen there.

Believing the heavenly visitor might have considerable value and desiring to locate it, Mr. DeHart kept his find a secret for some time during which he made several attempts to reach the meteor, but the steep snow-covered the slopes of the mountain, which with the ever-present danger of snow slides, prevented him from reaching his goal.

The dark spot on the peak is visible from several spots along the Richardson Highway; and as its extent was concealed by other and lower peaks, the theory was advanced by some that the disturbance was due to a landslide of large dimension, of which the scar on the mountain was visible evidence.

Last week's visit to the basin by Mr. DeHart and Mr. Maas and the result of their exploration leaves no doubt but that a meteor of immense size has fallen there. The scar on the mountain, visible from the road, is but a scratch compared with the havoc wrought by the meteor in its fall. In the words of Mr. Mass, that scar compared with the whole is as one bucket of water taken from the bay. And the photographs he took bore out his statement.

So terrific is the havoc wrought that words cannot adequately describe it. Striking the face of the range about two miles from the spot where it was finally halted by the rocky peak, and traveling parallel with it, the visitor from the skies planed from the range a strip 300 to 400 feet in width—millions upon millions of tons of rock—and threw the debris across the valley for a distance of a mile and a half and up the mountains on the opposite side to the height of a thousand feet. Boulders the size of an ordinary house were hurled across the valley and the debris piled up to a depth, in places, of over a hundred feet.

The stream flowing through the basin was dammed up; forming a considerable lake, but the water eventually found a new outlet on the opposite side of the valley and the lake drained away.

The peak where the meteor struck is badly shattered by the tremendous force and from the crevices so formed flow innumerable streams.

Owing to low-hanging clouds Mr. Maas was unable to obtain a picture where the meteor rests. Nor was it possible to climb up to it because of the constantly falling boulders. Occasional momentary lifting clouds, however, gave brief glimpses of the huge tunnel driven into the face of the peak to an unknown depth; black and forbidding against the surrounding verdure.

Near the foot of the peak, almost directly under the tunnel, is a pool of water of considerable dimensions surrounded by high banks of debris, as though cast up by some falling object, which leads to the belief that a portion of the meteor may have broken off and buried itself here.

Mr. Mass and Mr. DeHart will visit the basin next week, spending several days there, when it is hoped to reach and photograph the tunnel and the visitor from the heavens believed to be resting there.

— from The Valdez Miner, July 9, 1927