Update: Additional information on the crash and vehicles was sent by readers to Oil City News after this article was first posted. It has been added at the end.
It’s every commuter’s worst fear.
You’re motoring along, someone does something stupid…because it’s never your fault…and you end up with a broken car, broken ego and a newspaper photographer nearby.
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These unknown unlucky drivers had that kind of day sometime over 50-years ago.
The images of a three-vehicle smash-em-up were unearthed by Casper College archivist Vince Crolla recently. The pictures were found in one of the hundreds of boxes from the Chuck Morrison collection at the Western History Center. Crolla has been undertaking the monumental task of organizing and digitizing the countless images Morrison made during his long career with the Casper Morning Star and Evening Herald, the two papers that eventually merged into the Casper Star-Tribune.
Crolla found three photos of the scene at the corner of Second and Durbin Streets. The old Carnegie Library is seen on the corner, which was demolished a few years later and replaced with the current Natrona County Library building.
Across the street there appears to be a Standard filling station, which is now occupied by an optometrist and parking lot. In another angle there appears to be a Conoco station where the library’s east parking lot now resides.
On a south-facing photo the Skyline Towers Retirement Home can be seen during its construction phase.
The vehicles are an early-60s-era Chevy pickup and a circa 1959 Chevy Impala or Bel Air.
The third vehicle looks downright exotic for this time and area. It appears to be a mid-60s MG British roadster, but it’s difficult to know from just a side view. It appears mostly undamaged here.
The photos were found on negatives in a box labeled “September 1968” with no additional information, according to Crolla.
A newspaper database search for crashes during that and surrounding months proved futile, but many other car crash photos and stories did appear. In those times death and maiming from car accidents were quite common, as were the accidents themselves. They were also catnip to local newspapers everywhere.
Today that unfortunate day is long forgotten, except perhaps for the young people standing by the cars in these pictures.
The block is almost unrecognizable from this angle today.
Bonus photo: The Skyline Towers lot at the start of construction, early 1968.
A reader emailed after this story was posted and said the British car is a Triumph GT-6. The car perfectly matches photos of the Triumph found online. According to Road & Track, the GT-6 was produced from 1966 through 1973. Fewer than 41,000 of the sleek, six-cylinder roadsters were produced according to R&T, making good originals relatively rare today.
Reader Ann Robinson found a newspaper account of the “Spectacular” crash, which did not include any of Morrison’s photos. The clip is attached below: