daniel barringer

Although the image above looks as if it could have come from one of the many recent Mars expeditions, this impact crater is about 35 miles outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.  The Barringer Crater, also known as the Meteor Crater or even Coon Mountain, is named after American geologist Daniel Barringer (born May 25, 1860, died November 30, 1929), who was instrumental in demonstrating that the crater was the result of a large meteor strike in the distant past.  The son of a congressman, Barringer had an Ivy League educations, beginning at Princeton, taking a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania and studying at both Harvard and University of Virginia.  He moved out west and began investing in mining operations, investing in several silver and gold mines and discovering the Commonwealth Silver Mine in Pearce Arizona, making him a wealthy man.  At the turn of the century in 1902, Barringer became fascinated by Coon Mountain and began searching for the remains of the meteorite in the basin.  In fact, Daniel Barringer spent over two decades drilling and mining in the crater, spending over $600,000 (in turn of the century dollars-adjusted for inflation, he spent millions!) without finding evidence of the strike.  Later scientists determined that the impact would have been strong enough to completely disperse the meteor–no massive remnant would be found or mined.  When scientific papers describing this theory were presented to Barringer, he died shortly after.  The Barringer Crater was named for him, though it still is known popularly as both Meteor Crater and Coon Mountain.

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Image of Barringer Crater courtesy shane.torgerson under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.