Tissue sample: Meatrain of 1876.

From the Arthur Byrd Cabinet
at Transylvania University.
At 2:00 pm on Friday, March 3, 1876, flakes of meat fell from a clear sky at the farm of Allen Crouch, 3 miles south of Olympia Springs in Bath County, KY.

One Hundred and Forty years later--on Sunday, March 3, 2016--Kurt Gohde will re-seed the clouds over Olympia Springs with meat.

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interviewed on America's Test Kitchen with Christopher Kimball
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seen on the Travel Channel's Mysteries At The Museum
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Mysteries at the Museum


and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show
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on the Rachel Maddow show

A brief summary of the event from March 3, 1876
Within a 10 minute period, a "horse wagon full" of meat fell on an area measuring 100 by 50 yards. Chickens and hogs devoured the substance with relish and "two gentlemen" who tasted it determined that it was either venison or mutton. Several large samples were gathered for study by a group of faculty members at Transylvania University. Other samples, collected by Alexander Tenney Parker (a freed slave living as the head of a household in Lexington), were shipped around the country. The scholars who received these samples shared their findings in several publications (brief summaries of these publications can be found below).

"Sanitarian, July, 1876"
Mr. Leopold Brandeis, the author, declared the substance was not meat at all but low form of vegetable matter called Nostoc.
"New York Times, March 11, 1876 " & "New York Times, March 12, 1876"
Capt. J.M. Bent of Mount Sterling arrived in Louisville with samples on March 10th. These samples were given to Professor Lawrence Smith who determined it to be "dried spawn of babeachian reptiles" (frogs). He felt it was transported from ponds or swampy grounds by winds and referenced a similar flesh fall from 1675 in Ireland--as recorded by Muschenbroeck.
"The Monthly Microscopic Journal: Transactions of the Royal Microscopical Society, and Record" by Royal Microscopical Society (Great Britain), 1876
A brief accounting of the story was followed by the evidence that seven tested samples (from different sources) were proven to be animal flesh. A favorite explanation from the Bath County locals was shared by A.T.Parker--a flock of buzzards was flying overhead when they disgorged as a group. (How many buzzards would need to vomit to cover an area measuring 500 square yards?)
"Domestic Explosives and Other Sixth Column Fancies: (From the New York Times)", 1877
William Livingston Alden (author) argues that just as meteors are fragments of planets that have been broken up and float around earth in "belts", there are likely belts of "cosmic meat" from the inhabitants of these former planets. He argued that the Kentucky meat rain was in fact a meteoric rain of this cosmic meat.
A second theory (retold, ironically) in this book is one favored by the coroners in Kentucky who have sent samples to King Kalakaua and Prime Minister Steinberger for detailed analysis. This theory suggests that the rain actually contained "finely-hashed citizens of Kentucky, who had been caught up in a whirlwind while engaged in a little 'difficulty' with bowie knives, and strewn over their astonished state."
"The American Journal of Microscopy and Popular Science" 1876
This publication declares a solution to the question of the exact substance from the shower. Mr. Walmsley of Philadelphia examined samples that were "striated muscle fiber" and "cartilage". Dr. J.W.S. Arnold and Dr. A. Mead Edwards (both experienced Histologists) found that the samples they viewed were cartilage and lung tissue.
"The New Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information ", 2005 by David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace
Details a disturbing evaluation made after viewing the samples with a microscope that the substance was lung tissue from a human infant or a horse.
"The Book of the Damned", 1919 by Charles Fort
Fort's book suggests then dismisses the idea that the meat could have been Star Jelly (aka Pwdre Ser). Star Jelly is a gelatinous meteor which flouresces slightly upon entering the atmosphere. It smells like rotting flesh and sublimates within 24 hours of landing on the ground.
This is dismissed by Fort becuase it does not address the fact that blood was splattered about the ground, fence and trees during the event. This single fact also dismisses the Nostoc and frog spawn explanations.
additional publications detailing the event
"Scientific American Supplement, 2:437, July 22, 1876"

"Unidentified Flying Objects", 1955 by M.K. Jessup

"Scientific American, 34: 197, March 25, 1876"

"Medical Record, 1876"

"Agriculturist, 1876"

A final, though undocumented, explanation is one of biological warfare. Locals have shared a  belief that Confederate soldiers may have fired diseased meat from a canon into a Union camp as a way to spread illness.