March 11, 2009

Wis. man’s rock turns out to be meteorite

A Wisconsin man said a hunk of metal he bought from a rummage sale years ago turned out to be a stolen meteorite that fell to Earth about 50,000 years ago.

Tom Lynch, 62, of South Milwaukee, said he had no idea the 50-pound piece of metal was a meteorite until he saw a special about the objects on the Travel Channel, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.

For the last two years, it kept my grandson's basketball hoop from blowing over in the yard. It weighs 50 pounds, Lynch said.

Lynch said researchers at the Milwaukee Public Museum and Chicago's Field Museum confirmed that the object is a meteorite and collectors offered him up to $10,000 for the item. However, Lynch said he abandoned plans to sell the rock after minerals expert Jim DuFoe identified it as a meteorite that was stolen in 1968 from the Meteor Crater Visitor Center near Flagstaff, Ariz.

We can't sell what we don't own, Lynch said.

Lynch said he is planning to personally return the meteorite to the visitor center, which has offered him a $1,000 reward for his troubles.

It was going along pretty good there for a while. I've been really lucky in my life, so this doesn't faze me, he said. I've got mixed emotions. I'm glad it's going back and a lot of people will be able to see it. And I'm feeling sorry I didn't get $100,000 for it.