The second largest meteorite discovered in the United States has found a new home back in the area of its discovery. The meteorite was found in 1976 by three prospectors in the Old Woman Mountains of San Bernardino County. Over the next several years it was on display in many venues of the BLM including Redlands, ElCentro, and Riverside. It left here and traveled to the Smithsonian in 1978. It was returned to California in September of 1980.
On a recent trip to the desert hunting for meteorites we found ourselves on Highway247 and passing the BLM Field Office. From the motor home I could see what looked like the Old Woman Meteorite sitting in the front window. We wiped a slow u-turn and pulled into the parking lot. Sure enough there just inside the door was the Old Woman Meteorite.
Or so I thought till I reached out and tapped it. The hollow thud sound a sure sign that it was a replica. We took a couple pictures and asked where the original was. It was just a few blocks straight down the same street. We headed there immediately.
We started taking pictures nearly the second we entered. The woman behind the counter asked if we needed a tripod and we said no thanks as the flashes of the digital cameras lit the room. We shot the beauty for a few minutes and then looked at the rest of the desert museum. Soon the curator came over and began explaining some of the exhibits to us. Robert Hilburn is an enthusiastic individual who clearly is excited about having the Old Woman at the museum. He asked what we were interested in and we of course said meteorites. We talked for a while and got a tour of the museum. He offered some suggestions about local trips out into the desert we said goodbye and that we would stay in touch.
The Old Woman Meteorite weighing in at 6070 pounds (2750 kg) during its stay at the Smithsonian had a large chunk removed which weighed 942lbs. (427kgs). The meteorite now sits on that cut flat surface. A small slice was removed from another area and the accompanying picture shows that cut.
It is not polished or etched which would to me greatly enhance the interest factor for the visitor.Especially those who have not seen the large full slice at the Smithsonian. But, regardless of that the cut has inclusions which are easily seen and offers a glimpse into the inside of this remarkable visitor from space.
The Old Woman Meteorite is to be found at the Desert Discovery Center just down the street from the BLM Field Office. The Museum address is 831 Main Street, Barstow, California. The museum also has exhibits on fossils and wildlife and the rich mining history of the region.