On a now deserted road where grass grows in the cracks of the now famous and former route 66, and just a few miles north of Meteor(ite) Crater there was once a building that housed the Nininger Meteorite collection. The building was chosen because of its location near the meteor crater. These days its location is a ruin (as mention on the meteorite list) but in its hay day it saw numerous people stopping on the way out west or heading back toward the east. Built by the bare hands of one white man and the help of the local Indians the structure stands even to this day.
Nininger leased the property and modified the plumbing facilities to accommodate the visitors that would be traveling along the route. Nininger had never heard of a meteorite museum and even though this was located along a lonely road far from any larger city the Nininger’s decided to make a go of this venture. A place along a well traveled road next to a meteorite crater in the year 1946 and located twenty and forty miles to the closest towns. Nininger moved his collection from Denver 750 miles away to the location which was no small task. The total weight of the collection was 16,000 pounds or about 8 tons! Packing the collection took weeks of labor and over two hundred crates had been hand loaded onto a van which would move the collection there.
Two of the largest meteorites taken there were the Hugoton weighing 800 lbs. and the Morland weighing only a hundred pounds less. There were eighteen iron specimens weighing from 180 lbs to more than 400 lbs. The iron specimens were not crated but were a danger to everything else in the van. Thousands of smaller specimens were also taken and carefully wrapped and place carefully into the containers for the journey. Many of these specimen were worth several times their weight in gold. The collection had been gather over a time of about 23 years and represented all of the Nininger’s life earnings. Moving the collection was risky to the Nininger’s as it did represent so much to them. A transportation agent was carefully selected and it was required that the cargo be sealed and open by them after delivery to the location of the museum. Insurance posed a problem as meteorites did not fit any of the normal classification in order to insure. The total cost of shipping the collection was one thousand dollars and the time to ship was figured at about 24 hours with two drivers.
The van did not arrive as expected on the first day and was of concern to the Nininger’s. After the van didn’t arrive on the second day or even the third day The Nininger’s became very concerned. Nervously the Nininger’s started to trace the route the van would take in order to try to find it on its route. Finding a wrecked van at the side of a road and heading their way with the labeling of the trucking firm they had hired caused them much grief but soon they realized that it was only nuts and bolts laying out on the side of the road. They soon returned and on the fifth day a van arrived in the afternoon and backed into their location. The van that they had packed was not the same as the van that had arrived nor was the driver. When the they opened the door Nininger’s heart sank as he could see that crates had been broken, crates were mixed up from the move and it was obvious that care had not been taken in moving the crates from one van to the next. No equipment was at hand to move the heavy crates into the museum so they proceeded to unload the contents of the van with the help of some friends, the van’s driver and and Indian that had received a lift from the van’s driver. The unloading took many hours of time with some of the most heaviest meteorites rolled off into the museum yard. Unloading continued until just about dark on the evening of October 9th. On the evening of the same night, the Giacobinnid-Zinner meteor shower occurred and many meteors were observed by the Nininger and their guests. The shower a fitting prelude to the opening of the Nininger Museum of Meteorites.
Source: Find A Falling Star By H.H. Nininger
The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the reader is advised to keep this in mind.