Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Could this crash have occurred in 1941?

I've frittered away too much time this morning trying to date these accident photographs from the historical society collection, taken by Lloyd Moore.

The setting is a familiar one --- the Rock Island (now Union Pacific) overpass on old Highway 34 near the east edge of Chariton. It doesn't look that much different now than it did then. The truck was westbound, headed into town, when it smashed into a buttress.

I think the date on the license plate of the car in the foreground reads "1941" --- the "4" is distinct, but the "1" isn't. Vegetation suggests that the image was taken at midsummer or later.

The best I could do was an accident that occurred on Aug. 5, 1941, when a truck driven by Rex Griswold, 25, of Macksburg, smashed into the buttress about 7 a.m.  He was driving a 1940 International truck transporting a load of coal and the impact of the crash pushed the engine into the cab, trapping Griswold, who had to be cut from the vehicle. He died later at Yocom Hospital.

The Herald-Patriot of Aug. 7 published a photograph, but the digitalized image is so bad it can't be deciphered.

The only thing missing in the photos is the coal --- it reportedly was scattered over a radius of about 100 yards. If it had all ben cleaned up by the time these photographs were taken later in the day, it had been a thorough job.

I've gone as far as I'm going to go with this one, but anyone else who wants to work more on this minor puzzle is welcome to do so.


Unknown said...

This photo was taken before I was born, so I can't help with identification. But I remember that underpass well. My grandparents lived by it. I lived there for three years when I was in high school. The underpass had signs indicating the height restrictions, but drivers often missed the warnings. A couple of times each year, often as we were eating dinner or watching TV, we'd hear a loud noise and the house would shake. My grandfather would say "they've done it again" and we'd all go down to see what happened. Sometimes a truck was just wedged under the railway bridge. The tires could be deflated and the driver could inch out. But often the top of the truck had been peeled away like a sardine can. Sometimes there was "stuff" spread all over the highway. When a truckload of watermelons dumped on the highway, we all sat down and ate watermelon beside the road while watching the fiasco. Another time a load of toilets, bathtubs, and other plumbing fixtures was strewn along the highway. I wish I had a picture of that scene!
I'm sure that the neighbors helped clean up the coal that was dumped in this accident. Most of the homes in the area were heated with coal-fired furnaces.

Martin said...

I searched on Iowa Find a Grave. Rex died August 6, 1941, and is buried at Kivett Cemetery at Macksburg, Iowa.

Rudy said...

There is at least one book and probably others on license plates that you can refer to to help determine or narrow the date of a license plate and the photo

Martin said...

Find a grave says August 6, 1941

Unknown said...

Plate on the vehicle is of 1941 vintage.


1942-44 were White numbers on a black plate.
1940 was orange with Iowa/year on the top.

Unknown said...

Given the above... and the weather conditions of that day, I would agree that this is the accident on August 5, 1941.

Chariton had observed about 1/4" of rainfall that day. Judging by the pictures, it had rained VERY recently given the amount of mud on the highway.

This time of year, nocturnal rain is more common than daytime rain, so if this is the case here, the mud would be very prevalent with a 7 AM accident. Unfortunately, I don't have access to hourly data from the period. Though I'll look a bit harder to try to find it.

Judging by the short sleeve apparel of those at the accident, it would have been a warm day. That day had a high near 90.