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1877, January 15: Snakes Arrive with Rain in Memphis, Tennessee

On January 15, 1877, around 10:35 AM, after fifteen minutes of a "torrential downpour," snakes were found in abundance on Vance Street in Memphis, Tennesee, in the United States. The snakes were all over the road, sidewalks, and yards of Vance Street, between Landerdule and Goslee streets... all in a two block area, and nowhere else. The snakes were a very dark brown, almost black in color, and were so thick in some places that they were tangled together like "a mass of thread or yarn."

        Inquiries determined that no one had actually seen the snakes fall in the rain, and none of the creatures were to be found in the cisterns, on the roofs, on on any elevations above ground level, implying they had not come from above. Vance Street was a relatively new street, and it had no pavement yet, it's gutters being mere trenches to the side of the road. No answer was found for the sudden appearance of so many of the reptiles in so singular a spot. Such are the facts of the matter as reported by the Monthly Weather Review, a magazine that studied weather for the United States government.

        One month later, Scientific American reported this event in their popular and nationally distributed magazine... but with two major changes. They stated that the snakes had fallen with the rain, and theorized that they had been carried by hurricane to Memphis from an unknown location, and they stated that the snakes "were distributed all over the southern part of the city." No source is given for any of their information.

        And this is why I tell people to double-check stories they find in Scientific American!