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Montevideo American-News - Montevideo, MN
  • Meteorite or just a big rock?

  • Every so often people say not a lot happens in rural Minnesota, but the Chippewa County Historical Society would be able to say otherwise.
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  • Every so often people say not a lot happens in rural Minnesota, but the Chippewa County Historical Society would be able to say otherwise.
    A lot has happened in the area for a long time, and there are a lot of fun, unique stories. One such story came up last week in the You Asked section, when someone asked if stories they'd heard about a meteorite were real.
    The giant rock in question is located north of Montevideo, out on Town Road/70th Avenue, past the Chippewa River, on the west side. The rock is massive. One letter written by Walter Falkenhagen, quoted in the Montevideo News in 1934, puts the rock at about 400 tons. A more recent source, mentioned in a book written by Ron Morton, a professor of geological science at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Carl Gawboy, puts the rock at about 20 tons. Either way, it's pretty heavy.
    While the rock protrudes several feet from the ground, and stands out in the landscape, it is believed to be buried up to 20 feet below the ground, where a bed of granite holds it up.
    There are two theories about the rock. The first dates back surely to 1934, and ostensibly to the 1700s and 1800s with early settlers and explorers. It has been believed for a number of years to be a meteorite. The color is unusual, as are the specs of other colors within the stone.
    The second and more recent theory on the rock doesn't involve space, but it's just as interesting. It is succinctly explained in the story "Roving Boulders" by Marc Hequet for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
    Hequet says, "Driven by their own sheer mass, the glaciers flowed over boulders, melting and refreezing, prying the leviathans from bedrock, and finally lifting and carrying them along. The rocks dropped as the ice melted."
    It is possible this rock was moved by such a glacier.
    Whichever theory is true, the rock, still known as the Montevideo Meteorite, has an interesting history.
    It's unclear how old the rock is, but it is known how old the granite which supports the rock is. Similar to the Morton gneiss, which is metamorphosed granite, the granite in question here has been estimated to be around 3.6 billion years old. This claim is supported by Morton.
    If the rock is a meteorite, it could have landed up to 3.6 billion years ago, and struck that granite.
    The next piece on the timeline is much like the first part; At this point it is unknown how old the rock is, but if the theory about it being moved by glaciers is correct, than it would have been moved to the current location around 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers shifted into the region, melted, and formed the river valley.
    Page 2 of 2 - The pieces that come next are a little more certain, and more so the closer they are to the present.
    It appears that the rock was once a worship site. The first story about the rock comes in the early 1700s. A French missionary visiting the area reported coming across a large meteorite that natives were worshiping and rubbing buffalo skins on to keep it smooth and bright.
    For more on this story and others subscribe or pick up a copy of the Montevideo American-News.
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