Franconia Meteorite in Situ

FRANCONIA METEORITE HUNTING EXPEDITION

One Saturday in the fall of 2003, my son Michael and I set out on I 40 heading south west out of Kingman. We were going hunting for meteorites. We were in my Astro van with the quad trailer behind us with two quads on board. We were looking for some light colored ground with as little vegetation on as we could find. We had been on many meteorite hunts like this together before today. Some to known strewn fields and many just to a good looking area in the desert. We pulled off one or two exits before Franconia and headed out to the south east. Driving ten or so miles out we did not like the area, there was too much brush and it was too sandy. Not a very good combination for meteorite hunting. So we headed back to I 40 and headed to the west. As I looked out the passenger window I could see some white flattop ridges and thought I would like to check out some of those. The next place that we could get off the freeway was a ways up and called Franconia exit. We pulled off the exit and headed to the north west along the road and turned right when we got to the train tracks. There was a wash that went under the tracks right there so we parked and unloaded the equipment. We headed up a road that headed north it wasn't long before we started to think we had picked another bad spot to hunt for meteorites. The further in we went the bigger and blacker the hot rocks got. I have seen very few places with that many really hot rocks. So after checking several hundred really hot rocks that really look like meteorites. We just followed this road we were on till its end hoping the terrain would change. At the end of the road we were still right in the middle of these huge black rocks. But just barley visible up on top of the hill was a patch of white ground like we had seen from the freeway. It was only a hundred yards away so we walked up with the detector and a bottle of water. Michael dug the signals I came across. If you have ever been to Franconia you know he did a lot of digging. Anyway about ten hot rocks later Michael got a little bored and was trying his luck at throwing some of these rocks and I was back to doing my own digging. I got another really hot signal and started digging all of a sudden a meteorite hopped right on to my magnet. With some surprise I told Michael that I found one. He came right over and took over digging once again. He dug up the next three pieces of that same meteorite. Three pieces fit together like a puzzle and the other is the first iron we found there, the whole thing weighs 35 grams.

We hunted that area the rest of the day and never found another meteorite.

The next weekend we came back and looked to the west and hunted all day and found nothing. I called Ruben Garcia and told him we had found a meteorite and thought there might be more, could he come down and help look for more? The next weekend it was the three of us looking for more pieces.

Looking back I have no idea why I was so sure there were more meteorites there. The odds are hundreds to one against there actually being a strewn field in the area. But at the time I was sure it was there we just had to find it. It was not a matter of if just when would we find the next meteorite.

At this point you might think we are really good at hunting meteorites. Well I think it has more to do with being determined or stubborn. I think we looked in every single direction and with no more pieces found, we simply kept looking until finally another piece was found. Then we finally had an idea of which way to go

.

I was buying meteorites from Jim Walker and showed him some of the meteorites we had been finding and he asked where they were from. My answer was pretty vague. Something like down towards the Havasu turn off. Right away he said that Bob Verish has a meteorite down there called the Franconia. So I looked up the information on Franconia and since Bob had purchased the original meteorite from John Wolfe. I contacted Bob to see if he could shed some light on whether there were more pieces being found and if these we were finding might be paired with Franconia. In talking with Bob I learned that there were no other pieces found to date. So in my opinion I had discovered the Franconia strewn field, I had found the far north west end of it. The small end, shortly after John Wolfe and others started to find more pieces. They were working the south or big end as we worked the north end. We never saw the other meteorite hunters because we were separated by the train tracks, the mighty Sacramento wash and interstate 40.

Only after the Tucson show did anyone even make the connection. At the show they were giving away the area we were hunting, I don't even think they knew we were there. I think they were trying to keep people from hunting where they were and sent them on a wild goose chase right on top of us. One day shortly after the rumors started flying around the Tucson show meteorite hunter Sonny walked right up the hill to where Ruben and I were hunting and introduced himself. For a long time we met no other meteorite hunters on the north side of the freeway.

 

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