Odessa Meteor Crater
Diagram showing the layers of earth and rock, as well as the shaft that was dug.
The museum displays meteorites and other objects related to meteor craters.
Backstory and Context
Local rancher Julius D. Henderson first spotted the large crater in 1892. It was thought that it was created by a gas blow-out hole. However, it wasn't until many years later that geologists began to take a serious look at the site. Geologist Elias H. Sellards happened to find the crater while searching for potash. Word about the crater spread and other geologists studied the site as well. Finally, in September 1939, a 165-foot deep shaft was dug to locate the meteorite. However, as noted above, it was not found. The walls Meteor fragments were found at the site, including the largest one which weighs 300 pounds. The shaft was lined with timber walls and had ten levels. A fire destroyed the timber in the early 1950s and the shaft was sealed off with concrete slabs.
Over time, the crater filled up and is now only 15 feet deep. After impact, it was approximately 100 feet deep. The site was donated by the Texas Pacific Land Trust to Ector County in 1979. The museum was opened in 2002.
"Formation of the Crater." Odessameteorcrater.com. Accessed October 29, 2019. http://www.odessameteorcrater.com/formation.htm.
"Meteor Impact Structures." University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Accessed October 29, 2019. https://www.utpb.edu/ceed/geology-resources/west-texas-geology/meteor-impact-structures.
Smith, Julia Cauble. "Major Crater at Odessa." Handbook of Texas Online. June 15, 2010. Last Updated April 11, 2018. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rym01.