Near the Glorious End

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I took this photo of a butterfly in a greenhouse near Charleston, SC at a place called Boone Hall Plantation. It was in early November and the warmth of the summer and fall were about to pass from memory as cooler temperatures set in.

We’d been told that there were still some plants worth looking at in the greenhouse, and some butterflies, too, though the latter were almost all gone – they don’t live long once cooler temps come rolling around.

Still, I was happy to get this photo before there were no butterflies at all left. Now that this one has been captured, its glory is preserved forever.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991, a massive car and truck collision in Coalinga, California, killed 17 people. More than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident on Interstate 5, which was caused by a dust storm.

Interstate 5 runs north and south between Southern California and Northern California. On Saturday, November 29, there was considerable traffic on the highway as people were returning home after Thanksgiving. The area of the highway near Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley is usually prime farmland. However, in 1991 many farmers had decided not to plant their fields because of severe drought conditions, leaving long stretches of dusty soil near the highway.

As the winds strengthened to nearly 40 miles per hour on November 29, dust swept over the highway, severely hampering visibility. Suddenly, a chain reaction of collisions developed over a mile-long stretch of the highway. One hundred and four vehicles, including 11 large trucks, were involved in the massive collision. It took hours for the rescuers to find all the victims in the continuing dust storm. Seventeen people lost their lives and 150 more suffered serious injuries. Meanwhile, thousands of people were trapped in their cars for the nearly an entire day until the highway could be cleared enough for traffic to pass.

The same stretch of highway was the scene of a similar, but smaller, incident in December 1978 when seven people died and 47 were injured in a large chain collision. Another storm in December 1977 caused residents to develop a flu-like respiratory infection, known as Valley Fever, from breathing in large quantities of dust.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The first written account of a shark attack is found in Herodotus’ (c. 484–425 B.C.) description of hordes of “monsters” devouring the shipwrecked sailors of the Persian fleet.

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5 thoughts on “Near the Glorious End”

  1. Fascinated by these large-scale highway collisions you read about. I remember reading about one in Tennessee or Virginia in the 1970s or 1980s as well. That might make an interesting post, studying those different collisions, how they happened, what the DOT did to address it, etc.

    Thanks for sharing Galen, always interesting stuff here. :)

  2. I lived in CA during the time of the big smash up on I5…I remember it well. In fact, not long after that happened, I had been in southern CA for business and was driving back up I5 in DENSE fog….we’d slowed down because you literally couldn’t see more than 2 road stripes in front of the vehicle. Needless to say, we were in the right-most lane on the freeway. Then trucks (tractor/trailer rigs) would go blowing past us at high speed on the left hand fast lane! I couldn’t believe it. That central valley fog in CA can get really bad…they call it tule fog.

    I’d read your post if you write about that stuff!!!

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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