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Most People Have No Idea About This Crazy Occurrence In Alabama

More than 83 million years ago, an asteroid the size of Bryany-Denny or Jordan-Hare Stadium hit what is now Elmore County, Alabama, on Wetumpka’s eastern side. After traveling at a speed of 12 miles per hour, this asteroid eventually made contact with land—resulting in a blast that was 175,000 times greater than Hiroshima in 1945. This event is one of Alabama’s greatest natural disasters. And today this historic site is simply known as the Wetumpka Impact Crater.

The Wetumpka Impact Crater produced a tsunami, an earthquake and an atmospheric blast wave. It’s not surprising considering the impact produced winds up to 500 miles per hour. Everything within a 25-mile radius of the crater was destroyed. Many animals also lost their lives, including dinosaurs.

What’s really fascinating about the Wetumpka Impact Crater is that even though it was formed more than 83 million years ago, it wasn’t officially discovered until the late 1990s. While a team of scientists were drilling at the crater’s center, they noticed many characteristics that would’ve only been evident had the crater been the result of a sudden impact. For example, they found certain types of minerals that are only found inside impact craters.

Measuring about 5 miles wide, the Wetumpka Impact Crater was formed during a time when the sea level was really high. Back then, most of southern Alabama was under shallow waters from the Gulf of Mexico.

Today, the only thing remaining of the Wetumpka Impact Crater is its crescent-shaped ridge of hills, which is visible to people traveling towards Wetumpka on US Highway 231. There are only about 200 impact craters in the world, and the Wetumpka Impact Crater is one of 59 craters in the United States.

Each February, Wetumpka offers guided bus and walking tours of the Impact Crater. When February is near, be sure to contact the City of Wetumpka events coordinator. You’ll want to let them know that you’re interested in a spot on the next tour. Note: There’s usually a small fee for these tours.

Each year the city of Wetumpka celebrates New Year’s Eve with a falling/exploding meteor. Check out the video below for the fun event.

Did you already know about the Wetumpka Impact Crater?

Jennifer
Jennifer is the Alabama staff writer for Only In Your State.