Wadesboro Prime for Viewing of 1900 Solar Eclipse

The 1900 Wadesboro eclipse. Image from the North Carolina Collection

On May 28, 1900, a total solar eclipse occurred.

Though the eclipse’s path could be tracked across the Southeast, roughly from New Orleans to Norfolk, scientists determined that Wadesboro, in Anson County, was the best place in North America to view it.

Scientific expeditions were mounted from some of the world’s preeminent astronomy programs including Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the Smithsonian Institution, and the British Astronomical Association. S. P. Langley and C. A. Young, two of the founders of modern astronomy, were also there.

Members of the British Astronomical Association waiting to observer the Wadesboro eclipse. Image from the North Carolina CollectionAccording to the Anson Independent, a local newspaper, the public came out in droves. Extra trains—including a special excursion train from Charlotte—brought out hundreds of people, and by the time the eclipse’s effects were beginning to be seen around 7:30 a.m., the streets were packed and people were vying for better spots on top of and out of the windows of buildings.

The same local newspaper described the total eclipse itself as lasting for less than a minute and a half, and recorded that though a large crowd was on hand it was nearly silent during that entire time. The paper also mentioned that the drop in temperature from the shadow caused by the eclipse was quite significant.

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