The Meteor That Nearly Hit Nashville
John digs up a big, weird rock in his backyard and tries to discover its origin
See this rock? It was buried like this in the backyard high on the hill at my Erin-Tops Resort Home, vertical just as you see it, with just the tip of the head sticking above ground. I might never have noticed it but my mower blade kept grazing it. The sparks were impressive but I knew I had to do something about it.
One day I finally resolved to dig the damn thing up. I got a shovel, but the rock-hard clay in my yard resisted all efforts and I had to get the pickaxe. It’s a Razorback wood-handled model with a big heavy tempered steel head. I started removing dirt around the rock. Started, but never finished. It just kept going down. So I decided I would break off the top of the rock and be done with it. I rared back with that pickaxe and took a whack at it. Picture the Coyote when one of his assaults on the Roadrunner backfires and a one-ton anvil iron lands on his head. My whole body vibrated and not a fleck of rock came off. I didn’t even make a dent.
John Arra’s Erin-Tops Resort Home is not the place for practical work. Other hare-brained projects have included a pond, the dam of which has washed out several times. A friend suggested he wanted the pond stocked with stupid fish he could catch, thus the name Dumb Bass Pond. Futility is an unknown concept at the Resort Home.
So digging up a big rock just to find the bottom is not out of the ordinary. I am quite aware I could just have built up some dirt on top of it to spare my mower blade. Instead, I decided to keep digging. Eventually, I realized I had the makings of a nice little entertainment venue with this remarkable stone as the centerpiece. It kind of reminds me of one of those Easter Island monoliths. See the chin? See the nose? See the long forehead? And the heavy clay I extracted was handy for preventing leaks in the dam. So now we have Standing Stone Amphitheater in addition to Dumb Bass Pond.
Standing Stone Amphitheater tends to fill with water in heavy rains. I should have just made it Dumb Bass Pond and been done with it. But you know, being done with anything is not what works out here at John Arra’s Erin-Tops Resort Home is really all about. And it’s not what this article is about, either. It’s about discovering a meteor.
Now, when your recreation time is composed primarily of the hard manual labor of digging holes and erecting dams, you’ve got a lot of time to think. Reliving the past, imagining the future, contemplating why this yahoo does one thing and that palooka does another. And as more and more of the rock was revealed, I got to wondering how the heck it got there. First of all, why wasn’t it lying down horizontal like most rocks? How in the world did it come to land in my field of clay? And what’s it made of? There’s a lot of iron ore on the property, but this rock doesn’t betray a bit of rust. You can’t tell from the picture, but it has a dark gray color when it’s been nicely washed by rain. Maybe I have the world’s largest chunk of palladium or something! Nah. About as likely as winning the Tennessee Lottery, which I refuse to waste money on and think ought to be outlawed.
Turns out, I am not the only one who’s wondered about rocks like this. Back around the time of the Civil War, civil engineers were working on a railroad through these parts and they noticed a lot of rocks that were standing vertically in the ground as if they had been thrust there, and the types of rock found were at higher elevations than would naturally occur. They reported these anomalies to geologists. Eventually, the geologists figured out that only an explosion could create disruption and debris like the evidence being unearthed. Further exploration revealed that there was a huge crater in middle Tenneessee’s landscape that is bounded roughly by Clarksville, Dover, and Erin and is centered right around Cumberland City, ironically where the gigantic “fossil fuels” energy plant sits now that powers Nashville. Wells Creek runs through this area, thus they named it the Wells Creek Basin.
What caused the Wells Creek Basin? A meteor, of course! I won’t bother with the details here – you can look it up on your dang smartphone instead of watching endless Tik Tok videos and placing Dumb Bass sports bets – but scientists agree, that a meteor hit this area somewhere between 90 million and 300 million years ago. John Arra’s Erin-Tops Resort Home sits right on the edge of the crater. Imagine that.
Thus I tell you, be prepared for anything. And if it’s not a meteor, it could be an earthquake. It was just a couple of hundred years ago that an earthquake so violent hit upper west Tennessee that it created Reelfoot Lake. Hey, I wonder if that meteor weakened the earth’s crust here and caused the New Madrid Fault??? When you read the descriptions of how far it penetrated and the massive explosion it caused, you’ll think it could be possible.
So that’s the meteor that nearly hit Nashville. Missed it by just sixty miles and a hundred million years. As they would say out here where the accent still runs deep, that ain’t nuthin’ in meteor math.