Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shower of rocks baffles police

Pendleton police were baffled when a resident of 1802 West Railroad Street [S.W. Frazer Ave.] reported a rain of rocks, pebbles and sticks falling onto the roof of their house, apparently out of thin air, on April 2, 1915.

The house was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Henderson Crowner, their daughter Helen and Eldon Hutchinson, the 16-year-old cousin of Mrs. Crowner. Sometime during the afternoon of April 2, Mrs. Crowner, Helen and Eldon heard what sounded like stones hitting the roof of the house. When they went outside to investigate, rocks ranging in size from pebbles to boulders were rolling off the slanted roof to the ground. A search turned up no one who could have been throwing rocks on the roof, and the shower continued while the investigation was being made, seemingly coming from all directions.

Alarmed, Mrs. Crowner called the police. Chief Kearney arrived soon afterward, but was unable to locate the cause of the shower. The barrage continued at intervals throughout the evening and the next morning, and the next day the police returned to continue their search for the source of the rocks, to no avail.

A neighbor, Ben Pierce, who lived at 501 Maple Street [S.W. 16th St.], was skeptical about the story until he witnessed it with his own eyes. Pierce described rocks rolling to the ground off both sides of the roof, but said he was unable to see any of the missiles until they were within a few feet of the roof. Sticks were also strewn about the roof. He went inside the house and found stones, chips and a handful of dirt that had come down the chimney. Another neighbor, Thelma Coffman, had a boulder the size of a man’s head land near her feet, but it hardly dented the ground. When another rock hit her in the head she “felt it no more than if it had been a feather bag.”

The house, a small three-bedroom building with no attic, sat by itself in the center of a large lot. High bluffs rose behind it about 50 feet away with several clumps of bushes at the base, but the police beat the bushes and found no one hiding there. According to neighbors, anyone throwing stones from that distance would have cracked the shingles, but no such damage was found on inspection of the roof. And there was no way for anyone to hide on the roof itself.

The incident frightened the house’s occupants so much that they refused to sleep there. A search of the East Oregonian archives did not turn up any information that the mystery was ever solved.

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