From all over the world came reports of living creatures falling from the sky. What is the explanation?
by the Editors of FATE
One day in October, 1912, William W. Bathlot, who now lives in Albuquerque, N.M., was driving a mail wagon in Beaver County, Okla. He was about a mile from the Floris Post Office on his return trip when a streak of lightning shot across the sky.
Bathlot peered out of the open window of his mail wagon and saw a heavy black cloud in the sky with the darkest portion directly overhead.
In a few minutes small objects began thudding down upon the roof of the mail wagon. Bathlot assumed they were hail stones, but as he looked he saw thousands of small objects spraying outward from the roof of the wagon and from the backs of his horses.
They were tiny toads, and they bounced up from the sandy soil like little rubber balls, lay stunned upon the ground for a few seconds, and then flopped over on their stomachs apparently unhurt.
“Among this myriad of small creatures I failed to see one killed or crippled from the fall,” Bathlot declares. “For some unknown reason they all landed upon their backs, thus protecting their little, soft, white bellies. I could peer outward for perhaps 100 feet through the falling rain and as far as I could see the top of the earth was alive with the little creatures.
“I held my hand out of the wagon window and caught four, fat, brown little toads all about the size of my thumb nail. Each was perfect, with legs and no tail. I had heard of fish and frogs falling from the clouds but I never had heard of a fall of toads.
“The toads continued to fall for something like three minutes, and then no more fell but the rain continued in torrents. When I reached the postoffice, which was located in a general store, I found that the shower of baby toads had reached as far as the store and a little beyond it.
“As near as folks who had seen or been caught in this shower of toads could figure, it had covered a space of about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. There was no exact way of measuring for the little creatures had disappeared completely within a short time after their fall. They must have worked down into the soft, wet, sandy soil.”
Mr. Bathlot’s account, which appeared in the June, 1953, issue of FATE, is one of hundreds which describe strange falls from the sky—everything from “thunderstones” to huge chunks of ice.
It was only natural that Bathlot’s story attract letters from Fate readers who reported similar experiences.
J. S. Randall of Orlando, Fla., sat down and wrote us a letter on September 26, 1953.
“About 3:15 yesterday afternoon we had a shower, no heavier than others during the month, but this one contained millions of small frogs. They came down on the house and on the car parked in the yard. My three small daughters caught about 400 of them.
“This is the first time I have seen this happen in Florida. I have on several occasions seen frogs rain in Tennessee. It is 11 o’clock at night as I write this and I can still see hundreds of frogs all over the yard. The strange thing is that they are only in this locality.
“The frogs are small enough to sit down on a dime and not extend over the edge. They are unlike any frogs I’ve ever seen around here. I and several friends have looked closely but we can find no holes the frogs might have made in coming out of the ground.
“I know for certain they came in the rain clouds because they fell on top of the car while I was in it. They crawled down the windshield onto the hood in the presence of two other persons besides my family.
“I called the newspaper office here and reports are coming in from all around Orlando that frogs are crawling into houses under the doors and are in general making things hum for everybody. Last night the rain came in torrents and was loaded with more frogs. The reporter from the paper thinks they are hatching out but I know they came in the rain. They are found on roof tops as well as on car tops and they can’t jump that high…”
Marie Nyeholt of Pico, Calif., wrote:
“Many years ago, when a child, I lived with my parents in Livingston, a peninsula on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. After a sudden tropical storm, thousands of tiny frogs would appear as if from nowhere.
“They were about the size of a large thumbnail, and the paths and gullies teemed with them. I would gather the little creatures in an empty coffee can and much to my mother’s horror turn them loose in the house.
“With the ending of the storm the little frogs would disappear as mysteriously as they came and to this day I have found no satisfactory explanation for them.”
Grace Weir of Watsonville, Calif., wrote that she had good reason to believe Mr. Bathlot’s story because when she was 13 years old she too was caught in a “toadstorm.”
“My sister and brothers and I went to our beautiful lake to bathe. It was not too far from home in a small cove with soft golden sand and a background of spruce timberland near a primitive little hamlet called Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia.
“We noticed it was going to rain but we were used to showers and liked them as the water always seemed warmer afterwards.
“This particular shower was different. The heavens opened up and down poured little toads no larger than a blow fly and as golden as the sands they bounced upon. They fell like hailstones and the bouncing didn’t seem to hurt them.
“They bounced on the water all around us, on our heads and shoulders. We even held out our hands and caught some. So these toads came direct from the skies and not from under our feet.
“We kids had never seen anything like that in our young lives and naturally we were excited. We ran for the shore to gather some up; I recall I counted 18 baby toads that I could hold without crowding them or injuring them…”
Nada Domay of Winslow, Wash., also described personal experiences in the “flat woods” of Florida near Largo.
“The rain storms came up very quickly. Almost on a minute’s notice the sky would turn black and down it came.
“My brother and I were playing in the yard and as we ran for the house we were surprised to see it raining tiny brownish-red toads—perfect little things with dainty little bodies, feet and even tiny warts. The ground was covered with a hopping, squirming mass of them. They hit the ground very hard but it did not seem to hurt them as the ground was marshy with much rain. They soon hopped away—all but a few dozen that the hens ate.
“Many times it rained tiny fish from one-half inch to an inch long, transparent little fish with large heads and big eyes. You could see through their glassy little bodies, see the backbone and a little blood vein from the head to the tail. Those that lit on the bare ground died or were eaten by the chickens and other birds but the ones that fell into the drainage ditches and water puddles swam or were washed along to the bay.”
On September 7, 1954, it rained frogs in Leicester, Mass. When the rain was over residents found frogs of all descriptions scattered for a mile on Paxton Avenue from Leicester Center to the Paxton line.
There were 10’s of thousands of frogs. Some parents waked their children (it was shortly after midnight) and they ran out and scooped up bags and baskets full of frogs.
Weather officials scoffed at the idea they could have been carried aloft by an offshore hurricane. They theorized instead that the pond might have overflowed and washed the frogs onto the road.
Similarly, the July 26, 1952, issue of the Los Angeles Times reported a .18-inch rain at Big Bear, Calif. Immediately after the rain the pavements suddenly were covered by frogs estimated by residents to number millions. Those not crushed in the jam hopped away.
Many other creatures apparently fall from the skies. It is always easy to explain. away a rain of frogs by saying that “they just came out of the ground,” but it is a little difficult to give the same explanation for rains of fish, crabs and snails.
One of the most famous falls on record took place in May, 1881, in Worcester, England. A spring thunderstorm had sent the residents scurrying for shelter. Immediately after the storm, people traveling along busy Cromer Gardens Road were astonished to find the roadway covered with hermit crabs, periwinkles and small crabs of an unknown variety.
Hundreds of people rushed out and gathered these creatures up in buckets, baskets, sacks—even in hats. The current price of snails on the market had been quoted at around $4 per bushel—not very cheap—and here was a welcome gift from the skies—manna.
The total area covered by the fall was more than a square mile and contemporary accounts agree that the amount gathered actually totalled many tons. Worcester is about 50 miles from the ocean. There was no sand, seaweed, clam shells or pebbles associated with this fall.
The strange thing is that this sort of thing keeps happening all the time. It isn’t necessary to go back to 1881.
In Yoro, Honduras, according to recent newspaper accounts, you can get a fresh fish dinner delivered to you at supper time right out of the sky.
Every year at the beginning of the rainy season there is a fall of fish. Natives of Yoro prepare for the harvest as soon as a little black cloud forms over Cerro el Mal Nombre northeast of town. They gather up their baskets, pails and washtubs and head for the grassy plains outside the town. And as the cloud passes overhead it rains thousands of sardine-like fish, three or four inches long, in the granddaddy of all storms.
Yoro is 50 miles inland and separated from the coast by a mountain range. Difficult for fish to swim out there.
John Murphy was hurrying along a street in downtown Toronto during a rainstorm in March, 1954, when he was struck in the face by a fish. He insists that it fell out of the sky and swam away in the gutter before he could grab it.
We could go on indefinitely. It seems to us that the question no longer is “do fish and frogs (and any number of other things) fall from the sky?” but “where do they come from? How do they get up there? Why do they fall where they do fall?”
Consider Mr. Bathlot’s toads, for example. In our North Temperate Zone, the toad is hatched from an egg usually during the month of April. By the first of June it has grown four legs and has absorbed its tail. It is then ready to live out its life on land. It hunts bugs through the cool of the evening and through the night. If it’s a warm day the toad spends it under logs, leaves or grass in a damp cool place. Or he corkscrews himself into the ground if it’s damp and soft, and may go down four or five inches.
Some explanations for mysterious falls are that the creatures are scooped up by tornadoes or waterspouts and carried inland. It would seem difficult, however, for tornadoes to selectively choose myriads of tiny frogs or toads, say, and leave everything else in the particular water hole alone. And how explain the vast quantities of these things that apparently rain down?
Scientists also explain the falls by saying the rain has just brought the creatures out of the ground. But how explain that they are found also on roofs, are seen falling, and are even caught in the hand?
No, each type of fall would have to have a different explanation if we are to believe the men who have an answer for everything. If we never had seen a frog fall, seen one on the roof, or caught one in our hand, we might accept the theory that they come out of the ground.
A particularly strange story with startling possibilities came to us a couple of years ago from the Oregon Commission, and was also published in the Oregon Journal.
Fred Kuehn of Portland, Ore., was walking through the woods of Larch Mountain with his family, checking the huckleberry crop. As they proceeded down an abandoned plank road just beyond Brower Road on the Larch Mountain Highway, Kuehn found a pile of trout beside the road.
It wasn’t a little pile of trout. It was a great big pile of trout. It was eight feet long, five feet wide and over a foot deep. The fish were all five to eight inches long, every one of them.
Fred Locke of the Oregon Game Commission went up there to investigate and he reported there were more trout in that pile than the state’s largest fish liberation truck could transport in one load.
As far as we know, this mystery has never been solved. Perhaps it has a simple explanation. But if it doesn’t have a simple explanation then it could have a very complicated one.
Such as some creature of another world, or another time dimension or another space dimension capriciously gathering up a huge batch of trout preparatory to raining them down somewhere…and somehow being thwarted from this particular prank.
Consider the fact that virtually every fall of fish or frogs or toads of which we have record consists of very small creatures. Maybe there’s a type of toad which is able to create a mass of webby-type material about its eggs so they can be wind-borne. And maybe these eggs hatch in the sky and feed on tiny insects up there and come down because they get caught in a rain storm. This isn’t a very likely theory, but it seems as likely as any other.
Or suppose these creatures exist in another time dimension, or another space dimension and somehow pass from that dimension into our own. Such a concept has never been proved either. We can’t even prove that there are other time or space dimensions.
The only thing we must admit is that even the scientists’ explanations of these mysterious falls are mighty hard to swallow. If they are due to whirlwinds, how do they happen to be so selective—why not a lot of other debris accompanying them?
One of the best ideas we have heard is that they are somehow caused by a force akin to that manifesting itself in poltergeist phenomena. But actually, neither has ever been proved.
Possibly the falls, whatever their cause, have been used by nature since time immemorial to spread living creatures about the earth—and certainly besides small fish, frogs and the like they could include seeds, spores, eggs, and the young of many kinds of animals. Here’s an example of how this probably happens:
There are only four known kinds of fresh water jellyfish, although there are thousands of species of ocean jellyfish. Of the four known kinds of fresh water jellyfish, two species live only in Africa. Any freshwater jellyfish is extremely rare in this country.
Yet a couple of years ago, scientists found freshwater jellyfish in Crystal Lake, which supplies the water to Ravenna, Ohio. They were about the size of silver dollars and looked like little transparent umbrellas, trailing a dozen or so tentacles around their rims. They also had poisonous stinging cells. They were so unusual that the Cleveland Aquarium in Gordon Park put a tank full of the Crystal Lake jellyfish on display.
The point is, no one knows where they came from. No other freshwater jellyfish had ever been found there. Maybe these jellyfish came in a fall from the skies. Certainly this wouldn’t be stretching possibilities at all.
In October, 1954, Mrs. W. M. Reynolds of Austin, Tex., went out to her front yard after a hard rain. There in the yard were two ocean jellyfish, big as baseballs. And Austin is several hundred miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
The only thing we can finally agree on is that there are a lot of mighty strange things going on all over the world all the time and instead of denying them because they don’t happen to fit our preconceived notions of reality, we ought to get on with investigating them.