Here’s Why in 1780 Mainers Believed the End Of Days Was Upon Them
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
Let's go back in time, to the year 1780 when something happened that terrified Maine residents for a day. Panic and confusion arose on May 19th, 1780, when the skies of New England went dark at 9 AM.
Perhaps it was the end of days. Maine residents did not understand why the skies were going dark so early in the morning. Here is what happened on May 19th, 1780, 242 years ago, that led to their terrifying and strange event.
According to American Heritage magazine, the beginning of the day started off a bit brighter with a pink hue. However, the skies darkened as the morning went on and passed. Around noon, Maine residents were in complete darkness.
The dark sky did not only affect residents, it also affects animals. An article in Harper's Magazine cited by the Smithsonian talks about the blackout: "Birds went to roost, cocks crowed at mid-day as at midnight, and the animals were plainly terrified."
Of course, a dark day like that led Maine residents and other residents in New England to be confused and ultimately lead to fear. Was the apocalypse upon them?
Religion and superstition took over and paved the way for residents to believe that Judgement Day, known as the apocalypse in the Bible, a day where individuals would meet their fate and death and destruction would take over, was upon them.
According to an account on Celebrate Boston, the moon and sun were unusually red and at midnight, the darkness finally passed and stars were in the sky.
Obviously, it was not the end of days. The cause of this unusual event is believed to be smoke from forest fires in the west. Some people believe that it was a combination of fire smoke and fog.
According to American Heritage, there was a study conducted by the International Journal of Wildland Fire which performed a three ring study and found that there was a vast forest fire in southern Ontario and in other parts of Canada around this time. Due to this, there very well could have been giant smoke clouds that passed over New England.
May 19th came and went in 1780 and caused much fear in New England residents. Luckily it was not the end of days, but imagine seeing the next day completely normal after an event like that.