Kootenay Residents Awakened by Rumbling Mystery Boom

A loud, rumbling boom was recently reported by residents of West Kootenay, British Columbia, which one resident likened to the sound associated with the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980. At present, the cause of the noise has not been determined.

The event occurred early in the morning on Saturday, June 6, at around 6 AM local time.

The Nelson Star reported yesterday that the mystery boom had been causing speculation among locals about whether an explosion had occurred somewhere nearby.

While many were considering whether the origins of the noise could have been related to a construction operation, it seems clear that the boom was not seismic in nature, as indicated in a statement by Taimi Mulder, a seismologist working with the Geographical Survey of Canada, who told the Star that because their instruments did not register the disturbance, an earthquake could be ruled out:

“She said the fact the noise traveled such a distance means it traveled through the air. She noted the communities affected draw a line down the Columbia River, and said it was most likely a sonic boom caused by a military jet or a meteorite passing overheard, which could create shockwaves capable of shaking a house.”

Mulder also suggested road construction, rock quarrying, or some similar operation may have been the cause behind the boom.

No reports indicate military activity may have been occurring in the area, and although theories suggested an explosion may have occurred at nearby Copper Mountain, it was determined that no detonations had occurred there on Saturday morning.

Did Lewis and Clark Document the Same Sounds in 1805?

To the east of where the report occurred is the upper drainage basin of the Kootenay River, and further south, the Canadian Rocky Mountains carry over into the northwestern United States. While making their historic trek across North America between 1804 and 1806, it near this region that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark documented strange booming noises as they traversed the Rocky Mountains.

Specifically, on July 4, 1805, Lewis had written of “a noise which proceeds from a direction a little to the North of West as loud and resembling precisely the discharge of a piece of ordinance of 6 pounds at the distance of three miles. I was informed of it by the men several times before I paid any attention to it, thinking it was thunder most probably which they had mistaken. At length, walking in the plains the other day I heard this noise very distinctly. It was perfectly calm, clear, and not a cloud to be seen.”

The source of the sound, which would later be referred to by the travelers as the “artillery of the Rocky Mountains”, continued to remain elusive. Lewis, however, had also written in his journal that, “I have no doubt but if I had leisure I could find from whence it issued.”

It would indeed be interesting if the more recent reports of booms and the “artillery” reported by explorers Lewis and Clark were one and the same, and that their underlying cause, while no doubt of some natural origin, may still be little understood.