For 2 minutes and 40 seconds Boonville was darkened during Monday’s total solar eclipse.
Many had wondered what the hype about the Total Solar Eclipse was all about. At 1:10 p.m., Monday, they got their answer when the eclipse approached totality.
When the moon covered the sun for two minutes and 40 seconds, the partly cloudy skies lifted to allow a show that only a few have had the opportunity to see. In fact, it was 99 years since the last eclipse occurred over American soil and more than 200 since the last one brought darkness to this area.
Thousands showed up in Boonville to see this once in a lifetime event. From all walks of life, people from all over came to share the experience. By mid Monday, Boonville was reminiscent of a tourist town with a majority of the license plates from out of state. People from outside our borders such as Germany, England, Ireland and the Far East were spotted in the city.
While planning for this event has been ongoing for more than a year, no one could know what to expect from an event of this magnitude. But, the city knew it had to prepare for any contingency. Was Boonville's population going to be doubled or even more? What sort of traffic could be expected? Since Missouri was deemed the state where the most people would see the eclipse, what would that mean for Boonville?
All hands were on deck as everyone in the law enforcement and emergency management were preparing for all possibilities. In the end, they were grateful they had prepared the way they did, because the day went through without a hitch.
Telescopes almost outnumbered the vehicles around town as astronomers and stargazers brought out their very best. To view the spectacle up close, one needed powerful magnification.
Douglas Murray came all the way to Lookout Point from Arizona to view the complete solar eclipse. While Murray has seen eclipses, he has waited a long time to see an eclipse such as this.
“A total eclipse beats everything,” Murray said.
While sun and moon took center stage, Murray was interested in the moon’s shadow as it raced at supersonic speeds across the Earth’s surface. This was one reason he chose Lookout Point as it provided a clear vantage point to spot the shadow from a distance.
“When you get into this you soon discover there is more to it than you think,” he said.
Sitting next to Murray was Chuck Larson from Hollister. Larson, an astronomer, brought a large telescope that allowed viewing of the eclipse up close.
As totality hit, both Larson and Murray were pleasantly surprised as the event was more than they expected.
While the temperatures decreased, so did the light. Lights came on as a 360 degree sunset could be seen from afar. On top of Lookout Point, many pointed out the lights in the distance in Howard County as town lamps began to shine because of the darkness.
Visitors at the airport and Kemper Park had similar experiences.
Boonville Tourism Director Katie Gibson, while stationed at Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport, stated there were upwards of 900 people there. She also commented that once totality hit, the aweing factor rallied the crowd.
The same comment came from neighbors near Kemper Park as they say they heard the awes of the crowd more than two blocks away.
It was for sure something that people will remember for years to come, when totality hit Boonville at 1:10 p.m.
Hotels booked solid (By Liz Davis)
Four hotel chains met visitors as they came off I-70. Three of them had been booked almost three months.
“We couldn’t book any further ahead because the rates weren’t programmed in that far in advance,” said Dusty Mallott, manager of Days Inn. “We had some cancellations the last week, but as fast as one party cancelled, someone else booked it.”
Nick Patel, manager of the Holiday Inn Express, said, “We’ve been booked since the first of the year.”
Visitors from at least 19 states and three countries graced Boonville with their presence to watch this once in a lifetime total eclipse on Monday. According to licenses plates in area hotel parking lots, people came from as far away as California, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Closer to home, the states of Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma were represented.
One car was sporting Manitoba plates.
A gentleman was loading his car (Illinois plates) for an early checkout about 7:45 a.m. “Sir, did you come all the way from Illinois to watch the eclipse?” “No, Germany.” It was a rental.
One couple was unloading their vehicle between McDonald’s and Super 8 where the Bartian Youth Astronomers, Bartlesville, Okla., were setting up their equipment. “Are you with the astronomers?” “No, we’re poachers,” the lady said and then laughed. “We’re from England, drove in from St. Louis. It just looked like a good place to set up.”
One lady was pumping gas. When asked if she was here for the eclipse she said yes. “Where you from?” “Illinois. We had relatives flying in from New York and met them in St. Louis. The longest total eclipse time is supposed to be at Carbondale, but traffic was grid-locked yesterday for 25 miles so we came here instead.”