The Dark Day
May 19, 1780 - On this day during the Revolutionary War, a large swath of New England was plunged into almost total darkness. Thick black clouds obscured the sun to such a degree that candles were needed at noon. Many believed it was the end of the world.
Harper's Magazine described it like this:
Birds went to roost, cocks crowed at mid-day as at midnight, and the animals were plainly terrified.
When night fell many hoped the light of the moon would bring relief, but no such luck. The moon took on a hideous blood-red appearance, only adding to the terror that was sweeping the land from New Jersey to Portland, Maine.
A black rain fell in Boston that was thick and sooty, leading many to believe that the phenomenon was caused by a forest fire to the north.
227 years later, a researcher at the University of Missouri cited fire-scar evidence on tree rings found in the Algonquin Provincial Eastern Park in Ontario as proof that a massive firestorm had ravaged that forest in 1780.