Watch Sylacauga on the Travel Channel Thursday
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – A bit of local history will be broadcast on national television Thursday night.

Travel Channel will premiere an episode of its “Monumental Mysteries” series featuring a segment about the Hodges’ meteorite of 1954 and the “Falling Star” monument at City Hall that commemorates it. The show airs May 16 at 8 p.m. Central time.

“I asked Travel Channel why they chose this story, and they said they like to give places good publicity that otherwise wouldn’t get it,” said Marble Festival Chairman Ted Spears. “They try to do stories that are interesting, educational and factual, and that’s a good formula. It gives everybody their 15 minutes of fame, and we are glad to have ours.”

A Travel Channel production crew visited Sylacauga in January, where it interviewed Black Belt Museum Director Dr. John Hall, who has done extensive research on the meteorite, and filmed the marble monument.

The focus of the television series, hosted by history explorer Don Wildman, is to scour the United States “for the nation’s history-rich monuments” and unveil tales unknown to many Americans, according to a synopsis. A Travel Channel spokesperson said the story of the Hodges’ meteorite “is a good fit for ‘Monumental Mysteries’ as it is the lesser-known tale behind the beautiful marble sculpture.”

The “Falling Star” monument was sculpted by Don Lawler of Stephensport, Ky., and placed in front of City Hall in 2009 during the first Marble Festival. The abstract statue depicts the Hodges meteorite, which famously struck Oak Grove resident Ann Hodges on the hip as she was napping at her home on Nov. 30, 1954. Lawler was inspired to commemorate the event after he heard the story while in Sylacauga to purchase marble.

The eight-and-a-half pound fragment, now on permanent display at the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa, is the only space object known to have injured a person in modern times. Hodges received nationwide attention for the incident.

Lawler’s monument was placed at City Hall as part of an ongoing effort to locate marble in prominent places around the city, and Spears said Travel Channel’s interest is proof that effort should be continued.

“Not only does Sylacauga get the impact of national publicity,” Spears said, “but more importantly, the ‘Falling Star’ piece placed at the end of the first Marble Festival is recognized, and that gives us a baseline to build on and try to do something significant in marble each year.”

Thursday’s show will also explore New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and the mysterious disease that afflicted the workers who built it, along with California’s Joshua Tree National Park that was the site of a strange plot involving the body of a legendary rock star.

A preview video of the segment involving Sylacauga is available online at www.travelchannel.com/video/meteorite-hits-a-woman.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

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