What Caused the Black Rains of Slains?

When Bob Lazar was at Area 51, he was led down a hallway and instructed to move quickly and keep his eyes fixed at the floor in front of him. Like anyone else with even a modicum of curiosity, Lazar took a peak into one of the rooms. There, he says he caught a glimpse of a small, grey alien before being shoved along by a guard.

Reading Charles Fort is much like being marched down the hallway where the aliens are kept. All sorts of tantalizing events are dropped before us, only to be swept up away before we can grasp them.

In The Book of the Damned, Fort offers us a passage on black rains. One such incident stood out from the rest: the Black Rains of Slains.

According to Rev. James Rust (Scottish Showers):

A black rain at Slains, Jan. 14, 1862–another at Carluke, 140 miles from Slains, May 1, 1862–at Slains, May 20, 1862–Slains, Oct. 28, 1863.

But after two of these showers, vast quantities of a substance described sometimes as “pumice stone,” but sometimes as “slag,” were washed upon the sea coast near Slains. A chemist’s opinion is given that this substance was slag: that it was not a volcanic product: slag from smelting works. We now have, for black rains, a concomitant that is irreconcilable with origin from factory chimneys. Whatever it may have been the quantity of this substance was so enormous that, in Mr. Rust’s opinion, to have produced so much of it would have required the united output of all the smelting works in the world. If slag it were, we accept that an artificial product has, in enormous quantities, fallen from the sky. If you don’t think that such occurrences are damned by Science, read Scottish Showers and see how impossible it was for the author to have this matter taken up by the scientific world.

The first and second rains corresponded, in time, with ordinary ebullitions of Vesuvius.

The third and fourth, according to Mr. Rust, corresponded with no known volcanic activities upon this earth.

La Science Pour Tous, 11-26:

That, between October, 1863, and January, 1866, four more black rains fell at Slains, Scotland. The writer of this supplementary account tells us, with a better, or more unscrupulous, orthodoxy than Mr. Rust’s, that of the eight black rains, five coincided with eruptions of Vesuvius and three with eruptions of Etna.

The fate of all explanation is to close one door only to have another fly wide open. ….. four discharges from one far-distant volcano, passing over a great part of Europe, precipitating nowhere else, discharging precisely over one small northern parish?  But also of three other discharges, from another far-distant volcano, showing the same precise preference, if not marksmanship, for one small parish in Scotland.

I don’t know if it is because saying “the Black Rains of Slains” is so rhythmically pleasing or what, but the incident has become a minor obsession of mine. When in a room with a piece of chalk and a board, I find myself writing “What caused the Black Rains of Slains?” in much the same way people used to write “Kilroy Was Here” on boxcars. When I’m in a meeting and someone asks if there are any questions, I softly clear my throat and rise with the words “What caused the Black Rains of Slains?” tumbling from my mouth. I’m sure that if I were in a gang, my graffiti tag would be three black raindrops for “black,” “rains,” and “Slains.”

My life will be complete, if and only if, I find out what caused these black rains. This has proven quite difficult. I was able to find another reference to Rev. Rust’s Scottish Showers in Symons’s Monthly Meteorological Magazine, Volume 1, but not the book itself. It may well be that between Fort and Symon’s, I have all the pertinent facts. Still, I cannot see any harm in encountering Rust’s work directly. If anyone can direct me to a copy, either in physical or digital form, please email me. If you know what caused them, call your local emergency services and ask for me.

Until then, I am off to ascend the nearest mountain, and, like a Swiss horn blower, bellow, “What caused the Black Rains of Slains?”

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