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1970s Car Accidents Were BRUTAL – Scenes From A Very Bad Day On A Rural Vermont Highway Circa 1975

1970s Car Accidents Were BRUTAL – Scenes From A Very Bad Day On A Rural Vermont Highway Circa 1975

The University of Vermont runs an amazing photo archive called the Vermont Landscape Change Program. It’s chock full of photos from every era, a lot of which have contemporary photos showing what the same locations look like in the modern era. We ran across this series of photos from August 25, 1975, depicting a horrific accident between several cars and trucks on I-89 in Vermont.

The accident took place in the stretch of I-89 that runs through Berlin, Vermont, which is a small town of fewer than 3,000 people between Barre and the Green Mountain State Capitol of Montpelier. Five vehicles look to have been involved in the accident, and the sketchy information we can find out about it suggests that 11 people were involved.


The first photo depicts a station wagon crushed almost flat. Based on the wheel covers and the rear hatch in the wagon, we’re probably looking at a 1973 LeMans wagon. The insulation in the foreground looks like it came out of the travel trailer laying on its side behind the wagon.

Pontiac Wagon

The travel trailer appears to be a FAN, which was manufactured by the Fan Coach Company out of LaGrange, Indiana. The company built about 30,000 trailers in its history. It’s unclear whether the Pontiac wagon was hauling the trailer, but there are no other vehicles around it, so that assumption is pretty safe.

Dump Truck


The photo showing the incredible set of skid marks crossing from one side of I-89 to the other also shows a 1964 Chevrolet water truck that appears to be part of the emergency crew responding.

Skid Marks


The truck in this horrific photo appears to be one of the bazillion Mack F-Series trucks produced between 1961 and the year of the accident. It has absolutely decimated what appears to be a full-size Mopar sedan, but we’re open to suggestions here. It’s really hard to determine from this angle.

Truck Car Rear

A closeup shot of the guardrail shows that it was sheared completely off its bracket, for at least three sections of the rail.

Guard Rail

The overview photo shows what was probably about 2/3s of all the emergency equipment in northern Vermont at the time, including three pieces of fire equipment and a 1968 GMC single boom wrecker.


The unfortunate presence of a Miller-Meteor hearse on a Cadillac body confirms that one person of the 11 involved perished in the crash.

Front Loader Dump Truck

Given the absolutely chilling result of the crash, it’s amazing that more people weren’t killed. Be safe out there, kids.

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9 thoughts on “1970s Car Accidents Were BRUTAL – Scenes From A Very Bad Day On A Rural Vermont Highway Circa 1975

  1. john t

    reminds me for some reason of the original gone in 60 seconds – there are any number of 70’s horrific crashes in that movie other than what happens to the Mustang..

  2. Ron Ward

    The car that was demolished by the truck is either 1973 Chrysler Newport or New Yorker. Based on the plates welded into the rear frame rail for what appears to be a trailer hitch mount, I’d say the Chrysler was probably pulling the camper.

    Man, that is some nastiness right there.

    1. Jon Spaulding

      That is 89 north bound leading towards the Montpelier exit. That is known as 3 mile hill. It’s not a horribly steep grade, just long. At the bottom, it bends gradually left, and then over route 12 (the bridge you see). In the winter, it can be a difficult stretch.

  3. Greg Rourke

    The big truck involved doesn’t have Mack rears or a Mack transmission. It also has Hendrickson suspension. All of these could be ordered on a Mack, but would be unusual.
    Having worked at an RV dealer I saw many instances of people not used to towing trailers get way out over their skis and crash. Especially on long grades, they would unknowing use too much trailer brake to slow the car and trailer, burning up the magnets. Hard to say what happened here, but if the camper caused it I wouldn’t be surprised.

  4. Greg

    I remember seeing a few accidents as a kid in the 1970s, driving around with my parents. I wonder if it was the weight of the vehicles then or a lack of power steering.

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