Most days, the corner of Went-worth and Anson streets is a peaceful cobble of ivy-adorned homes. Most days. Except 171 years ago, on July 2, an alligator fell from the sky.

"The beast had a look of wonder and bewilderment about him, that showed plainly enough he must have gone through a remarkable experience," the Charleston Mercury reported in 1843.

The 2-foot-long reptile apparently went for a spin in a waterspout as a ferocious thunderstorm raged over the peninsula - "thunderbolts burst overhead with a power that shook the solidest structure," the Mercury said.

Don't believe it? Waterspouts come in two sizes: fair weather and tornadic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tornadic waterspouts are literally tornadoes. A big enough tornado can spin a car into the air.

Waterspouts "overturn boats and damage large ships," according to the NOAA report. "They can wreak havoc with high winds, hail, and dangerous lightning."

Still don't believe it? Neither did the wild-eyed gator.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.