‘Alligator rains down from the sky’, according to 1843 Charleston report

CHARLESTON, SC  – According to the National Weather Service Charleston office, on July 2, 1843, there were reports of an alligator falling from the sky during a thunderstorm in downtown Charleston.

A search for the event, turned up an old newspaper clipping from the Time-Picayune in New Orleans. The Time-Picayune republished an article which originally appeared in “The Charleston Mercury” a local paper founded by U.S. Representative Henry L. Pinckney.

The article described a strong thunderstorm that developed on a very hot July Sunday. St. Paul’s Church was reportedly struck by lightning but not harmed. No one was reported dead following the storm, but an alligator appeared at the corner of Wentworth and Anson street in downtown Charleston after the storm had cleared. And while no one saw the alligator actually fall from the sky, the writer states that “and as he couldn’t have got there any other way, it was decided unanimously that he rained down.” That and the look of wonder and bewilderment on the alligator’s face led to idea that he had come from the sky.

The working theory is the gator could have been picked up by a waterspout the formed over a near by river or creek and was dropped on Anson Street as the spout dissipated. But since no one saw the gator fall from the sky, it could also be he just got lost in the blinding rain.