1780: A Day of Darkness

maxresde

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Well I can tell you I was right around where this all happened. Back in I think the early 2000s there was a day somewhat like this. Not as bad, but the description was similar with the yellow sky and getting darker and darker. It never got pitch black. But it was pretty crazy. You could look right at the sun without a problem. It looked like a red ball. Some kids thought it was the moon. It turned out that there had been big forest fires up in Quebec and the wind turned during the night and blew this smoke down into NE. I can picture back in those days a big forest fire in some sparsely inhabited area and the wind did the same thing. Maybe some early editions of those mysterious fires that were supposed to be sweeping the midwest in the early 1800s?
 

Red Bird

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https://www.memphis.edu/ceri/compendium/pdfs/bryan.pdf

This is the premier eye witness account to the New Madrid earthquake of 1812. The significance here is she stated the following occurred during a large one in Dec. 1811 and again with the biggest one in 1812. I can’t copy it over so this just a bit:

“...which was followed in a few minutes with the complete saturation of the atmosphere with sulphurious vapor, causing total darkness.”

New Madrid Compendium Eyewitness Accounts - CERI - The University of Memphis
Original 1812 website with more info and maps.
 
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whitewave

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In the links to my opening post I listed a day of darkness from 1950 and in the main body of the post someone had taken the trouble to look up how many days of darkness had been mentioned throughout history. I haven't looked into all of them but, undoubtedly, some were to to smoke from fires obscuring the daylight. However, I have yet to find any of them spoken of in the terms mentioned in 1780. I doubt the New Englanders of 1780 were bigger wusses than anyone else in recorded history. The only other mention we have of that sort of total darkness was as one of the 10 plagues of Egypt where the darkness could be felt and men's hearts were failing them for fear.
 

Bald Eagle

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So, just because this specifically refers to darkness, I have noticed how many of the strange buildings, and buried floors, and mudflood evidence, and discovered architecture and technology strongly reminds me of Isaac Asimov's novel NIGHTFALL.

The darkness is due to astronomical events, but the interesting parts of the novel are where he discusses the layers they discover - what I've seen here described as "cultural layers" separated by char/ash. One on top of another, again and again.

I'm wondering how many "fictional" accounts of such events there are.

I can't possibly imagine a fire giving rise to enough smoke to blot out the sun so completely that it was the type of pitch black that the eye-witnesses describe. I've lived in the woods of NH, and there have indeed been nights where it was so dark that I literally could not see my own hand an inch from my face. But that was at night, with no moon, and no light pollution.
I've been one town over in NJ when the refinery caught fire and proceeded to rain down flakes of petroleum soot the size of small leaves. But I can't imagine a fire blotting out that much light all the way down the entire east coast at 2pm, for 15 hours.
 
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whitewave

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I doubt it too. There was a huge earthquake far away a few months earlier but I'd think any ash and soot from that would take days, not months to reach the East coast. I've tried searching for astronomical events of that time period but nothing extraordinary pops ups. Plus, a 7.7 earthquake usually produces tsunamis to accompany them. No such event took place on the East coast at that time. There are no records of subsequent illness in the population as there sometimes is with strange astronomical events. I'm wondering if it was some sort of cyclic astronomical phenomena that just happens every once in a great while. Such an event may even have been the cause of a fire in Canada.
 
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whitewave

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Don't know. That would take a lot more digging and dot connection. It hasn't been solved (to my satisfaction) in 239 years so I'm not sure how much luck we'll have trying to figure it out 239 years after the event. Am looking at similar events to see if there's a pattern.

I believe that there was a fire in Canada at the time due to something (although I can't find any information on it) but it's highly unlikely that a "horror of darkness" would envelop New England for 15 hours due to a fire. If the fire was big enough to block out the sun, moon and stars for that length of time, there would have been incredible amounts of smoke-enough to kill or severely choke out many, many people. That didn't happen. Something caused the fire and it was probably the same thing that caused the prolonged darkness.
 

jd755

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I know of nothing natural or man made that could do what these stories suggest save the sun going out and the moon too under a clouded sky.
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The more 'old stuff' I read that has been digitally transformed the more it feels unreal. Years ago as a teenager I bought a 'poster' from a seaside shop in Cornwall or Devon which was a 'reproduction' of an 'original wreck sale' listing the contents of ship wrecked on the rocks. Apart from the quality of the paper and a 'made by whoever' in modern print on the bottom it was totally convincing.
Were it ever to be digitised it would be a piece of cake to make it 'appear real' thus faking history on the fly, which is I feel how its been done since the Roman Catholic Church as invented in the same period where the 'tools' of fakery were invented, maps, books, printing, 'dead languages' , revolutions, industry, commerce, politics etc the whole nine yards and these tales of unnatural darkness sit right within this fakery
Anything to make the 'Hang on a minute, this doesn't feel right' searcher look in the wrong direction whenever it is they get that 'hang on a minute' moment.

I say this after reading that old 1734 book of Voltaire's 'in the flesh' so too speak the Charles XII of Sweden book chock full of make believe characters and make believe fact.
 
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