What Happened during the Kentucky Meat Shower?

Quck answer

The Kentucky Meat Shower was a strange event that occurred on March 3, 1876, in Bath County, Kentucky. During the shower, chunks of meat, believed to be beef or venison, fell from the sky for several minutes. The incident was witnessed by two local women, who described the meat as being about the size of snowflakes. Scientists have offered various explanations for the phenomenon, including the possibility that the meat was regurgitated by vultures flying overhead or that it was the result of a meteorological event. However, the true cause of the Kentucky Meat Shower remains a mystery to this day.

Imagine walking on an old dirt road on a pleasant spring day. The sun is shining, the sky is clear, and the air is refreshing. There’s a gentle breeze, but no strong wind. Suddenly, something starts descending from the sky. What could it be? You might expect rain. Maybe even light snow, although it’s not very cold. But soon enough, you realize that today’s precipitation is unusual. It’s not rain or snow. It’s meat!

Meat falling from the sky? That might seem like something from a science fiction novel. But it’s not! It’s a real event from history. Specifically, it’s a well-documented incident known as the Kentucky Meat Shower.

It was a clear day on March 3, 1876. Mary Crouch from Olympia Springs, Kentucky, was outside making soap. Suddenly, meat started falling from the sky all around her. Later, Crouch described the meat chunks as being the size of large snowflakes.

In the following days, many neighbors visited to witness the aftermath of the meat shower. One of them, Harrison Gill, later reported that meat was scattered all over the farm. It was hanging from fences and lying on the ground. The largest piece was about four inches (10 cm) long.

People quickly began to investigate what the meat was and where it came from. A local hunter examined the meat and concluded that it came from a bear. Two of Crouch’s neighbors decided to taste the fallen meat. Yes—they actually ate some of the meat that fell from the sky. How did it taste? According to their accounts, it tasted like venison or mutton.

They sent samples of the meat for testing. Initially, one scientist believed it to be nostoc, a type of bacteria. However, further testing revealed that it was animal flesh. Dr. A. Mead Edwards and Dr. J.W.S. Arnold identified cartilage and lung tissue. Muscle tissue was also discovered in the samples. Based on their observations, they concluded that the meat came from either a horse or a human being.

The doctors confirmed that the substance was indeed meat. But why did it fall from the sky? In 1876, Dr. L. D. Kastenbine proposed a hypothesis that still has support today. He suggested that the meat shower was likely caused by vulture vomit.

If you know about vultures, you probably know that they are birds that feed on decaying corpses. While this might disgust us, it’s a feast for vultures. However, these birds typically vomit for a specific reason. They are known to projectile vomit to defend themselves against predators. They also induce vomiting if they are too heavy to take flight. Regurgitating part of their last meal helps vultures lighten their load and soar higher in the sky.

The Kentucky Meat Shower remains a mystery to this day, but most people support the vulture vomit theory. They believe that a group of vultures likely vomited while flying high above the Kentucky farm. Then, the light breeze carried the meat, causing it to rain down across the farm.

Does that sound disgusting? Just imagine being one of the individuals who consumed it! How would you feel if you found yourself in the midst of another occurrence of meat falling from the sky? If meat can descend from above, what other peculiar showers are possible?

Give it a Try

Find an adult who can assist you in continuing to learn through one or more of the following activities:

  • If you find the idea of a meat shower strange, explore these other objects that have fallen from the sky. How would it feel to experience one of these unusual showers? Discuss it with a friend or family member.
  • Read more about vultures. Afterwards, create a poster to educate others about these fascinating birds. Draw a vulture on your poster and list the five most intriguing facts you have learned about them. Don’t forget to share your creation with a friend or family member!
  • Put yourself in Mary Crouch’s position. How would it feel to witness the Kentucky Meat Shower? What thoughts would cross your mind? What actions would you take? Write a short story in which you encounter the Kentucky Meat Shower. Are there other people with you? What does the meat look like? What issues does it cause? Let your imagination run wild!

Sources of Wonder

  • https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/running-ponies/the-great-kentucky-meat-shower-mystery-unwound-by-projectile-vulture-vomit/ (accessed 30 Jan. 2020)
  • https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/kzkmgw/the-mystery-of-the-kentucky-meat-shower (accessed 30 Jan. 2020)
  • https://www.kentucky.com/news/local/education/article44615769.html (accessed 30 Jan. 2020)


1. What is the Kentucky Meat Shower?

The Kentucky Meat Shower was a strange and unusual phenomenon that occurred on March 3, 1876, in Bath County, Kentucky. During this event, chunks of meat fell from the sky, covering an area of around 100 yards. The meat was described as being small, reddish, and ranged in size from a few centimeters to several inches. The incident caused quite a sensation and attracted the attention of scientists and the general public.

2. What were the theories behind the Kentucky Meat Shower?

Several theories were proposed to explain the Kentucky Meat Shower. One popular theory was that the meat was the result of a flock of vultures regurgitating their food while flying overhead. Another theory suggested that the meat was the remains of a meteorite that had burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, after careful examination by scientists, it was concluded that the meat was most likely lung tissue from a domesticated animal, possibly a horse or a cow.

3. Was the Kentucky Meat Shower ever solved?

Despite extensive investigations and scientific analysis, the exact cause of the Kentucky Meat Shower was never definitively determined. While the lung tissue theory seemed plausible, some skeptics argued that the incident was a hoax or a prank. The lack of conclusive evidence and the passage of time have made it difficult to fully solve the mystery of the Kentucky Meat Shower.

4. Are there any similar incidents to the Kentucky Meat Shower?

Although the Kentucky Meat Shower is one of the most well-known cases of mysterious meat falling from the sky, there have been a few similar incidents reported throughout history. In 1876, a similar event occurred in Olympian Springs, Kentucky, where meat fell from the sky for several days. In 1950, in the town of Snyder, Texas, a shower of raw meat and blood occurred. These incidents, like the Kentucky Meat Shower, remain unexplained and continue to intrigue scientists and the public alike.

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