2023 Spring History Highlight

The Old Trails Museum offers its free 2023 Spring History Highlight on Saturday, April 29, at 2 pm in the La Posada Hotel Ballroom, 303 East Second Street. Ken Zoll, Executive Director Emeritus of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center, will present on his new book, H. H. Nininger: Master of Meteorites, followed by a question-and-answer session and book signing.

Harvey H. Nininger is considered by many to be the “Father of American Meteoritics,” or the study of meteorites. When he began to search for them as a young man, he was told by the Smithsonian Institution’s head curator of geology, “if you live to be 100 and find one meteorite, you will have done well.” Despite this discouragement, by 1941 his personal collection represented one-half of all the known meteorites in the world.

During his long career as a pioneer and innovator in the field, Nininger wrote ten books and 162 articles on meteoritics. He also served as the Curator of Meteorites at the Denver Museum of Natural History from 1930 to 1943. He moved to Arizona in 1946 and established the American Meteorite Museum in the former Meteor Crater Observatory – built by Winslow resident Harry Locke – on famous US Route 66 and just north of Meteor Crater. The museum’s visitation declined after a Route 66 realignment, so Nininger operated the museum on Sedona’s Main Street from 1953 to 1960.

The Nininger Collection was eventually sold to the British Museum of Natural History and to Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies. Nininger passed away in 1986 at the age of 99, shortly after the appearance of Halley’s Comet. Zoll’s talk will cover the whole of Nininger’s colorful career and its Winslow connections, including Locke’s observatory construction, the 1941 Ford-TWA Expedition from the Winslow airport to explore the Meteor Crater area, and Nininger’s many discoveries at Meteor Crater.

After thirty-five years of federal service in Chicago and Washington, D.C, Zoll retired to Sedona with his wife Nancy in 2004. He was a founding member of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center in Camp Verde in 2010 and served as its Executive Director from 2012 to 2022. His primary area of study is Cultural (Ancient) Astronomy, and he is credited with several significant discoveries in cultural astronomy of the Southwest. He is a certified instructor in cultural astronomy with the Arizona Archaeological Society, and he has authored professional articles on the subject as well as several popular books on cultural astronomy and rock art in Central Arizona.

All proceeds from the sale of the Nininger book will benefit the Old Trails Museum and the Verde Valley Archaeology Center and Museum. For the latest updates on all of the Old Trails Museum’s exhibits and programs, subscribe to our “News” feed or “like” the museum on Facebook.