Wells Creek Crater
It is estimated that around 200 million years ago, a large meteor came hurtling through the darkness of outer space heading for a direct impact with planet Earth at the confluence of what would later be known as Houston, Stewart and Montgomery counties of Tennessee. The meteorite was nearly 1,000 ft in diameter, weighed more than 100 million tons and was traveling in excess of 36,000 mph when it hit the Earth, exploding with the force of a 1,000 megaton bomb. The resulting impact crater was 2,000
feet deep and nearly 8 miles across. The huge hole in the Earth’s surface is now called Wells Creek Crater, and is one of the most studied impact craters in the world. It ranks as the ninth largest impact crater in the
United States and the 62nd largest on the EIDB.
The Indians found a heaven in the basin created by the meteorite impact. Wild game was plentiful and clear springs flowed through the area. Dense flint was available nearby for arrow and spear points.
When the first white settlers moved into the area, they were impressed by the same features that lured the Indians. The soil was fertile, and a highly agricultural society developed in the community.
The fact that the settlers were living in an impact crater became known in the 1860s when a railroad was being built from Clarksville to the West. While blasting out the rock for the rail bed, a geologist found strange rock formations near Cumberland City that suggested a violent impact had occurred in the area.
If you want to take a trip back in time, the Wells Creek Crater can easily be observed by taking state Highway 149 from Clarksville to Erin. As you top the hill at the intersection of 149 and Old State Route 149, the north rim of the crater lies directly in front of you. It will curve around the horizon from your left to the right and visually give you an indication of the size of the crater.
Information about the History of Clarskville provided on this website courtesy of The Leaf Chronicle Fact Book 2007-2008. Eric Snyder and Owen Schroeder Jr.