6/28/2013

A Dark Day in New England







I love mysteries, particularly mysteries in history.  The unexplained, unusual have always struck my fancy.  For example, many years ago, our newspaper had a "This Day in History."  Some were anniversaries of U.S. Presidents who have died, some were about legislation passed on that particular day.  The one that caught my attention was a sudden darkness that took over the entire northeast of the U.S.  If I remember correctly, it was in 1780.  It was not an eclipse as most are thinking now. People noticed prior to the darkness, there was a copper hue to sunsets.  There were mild temperatures during that spring after a severe winter.  It was not caused by a volcanic eruption as many have speculated.  That said, there were major fires during this event in history in the West of the USA at that time.  Could it have been forest fires?  Highly unlikely smoke would have drifted that thickly to the northeast of the USA.  Regardless, about 10AM on May 19th, 1780, the sky turned completely dark.  Cows returned to their stalls, crickets began to chirp.  For all intents and purposes, it was nighttime to the animal kingdom.  It was so dark in Sudbury, Massachusetts that people were unable to see their hands in front of them. As the darkness continued, there was a smell of "burnt leaves" in the air.  Many birds were found dead on the ground as they blindly flew into structures.  The next morning, things were as they had always been.  No sign of the sudden darkness of New England.

There is still great debate on what caused this sudden darkness in New England on the morning of May 19th 1780.  The American Revolution was still raging as the young nation was trying to gain its independence from superpower Great Britain.  People were still bleeding those in bad health as a way to "cure" them.  So, you have to assume a lot of misconceptions arose from this sudden darkness.  I'm sure many thought it was the end of time as speculated in the Bible.  Still, many people think the darkness was caused due to the forest fires along Lake Champlain in May of 1780.  But, it is still conjecture at this point.  The truth is, no one will ever be able to explain this sudden darkness in New England.  The only thing we know for sure is that this anomaly has not been repeated.  There may be a simple explanation for this sudden darkness in the northeastert part of the USA.  Thus far, that explanation has eluded us.

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