Today’s AJC Deja News comes to you from the Monday, June 4, 1973, edition of The Atlanta Constitution.
POLICE CHASE 185 CALVES IN CRASH ON I-85
Atlanta’s interstates are where the wild things are. And sometimes they have four hooves instead of the usual four wheels.
“About a dozen Atlanta police officers had to abandon their regular duties [June 3] and play cowboy after a tractor-trailer truck carrying 199 calves overturned in the southbound lanes of I-85 near the Brookwood Station interchange,” the Constitution’s Chuck Bell reported in 1973. Fourteen calves died.
“The other 185 calves took off in 185 different directions and police spent about six hours trying to round them up,” Bell wrote.
Atlanta drivers aren’t fazed by much. Weird stuff turns up (and frequently turns over) on the local interstates and neither watermelons nor emus nor zebras nor tomahawks of Braves stay metro commuters from the non-swift completion of their appointed rounds.
The recent upswing in cows stymieing the local commute, though, gives traffic experts pause.
In 2018, metro Atlanta had seen three cattle truck crashes in a five-month period, WSB traffic reporter Doug Turnbull noted in his “Gridlock Guy” column that month. The regular Oct. 1 Monday morning commute on the Cobb Cloverleaf ramp from I-285 east to I-75 north went belly up when a truck carrying 89 cattle tipped over.
“Eleven cows died in the melee,” Turnbull wrote. “Scared out of their bovine minds, cows ran loose on I-75 and I-285 and on side streets in the area,” he continued. “At least 10 cars hit them and [were damaged].”
Indeed, the past year was rough on rawhides.
“In May, a tractor-trailer hit a sound barrier on I-75 North near Kennesaw, shutting down the interstate for hours and killing 10 cows,” the AJC reported. “One month later, three cows were killed and dozens of others were trapped in a crash on the ramp from I-285 South to I-20 East in DeKalb County.”
VIDEO FROM 2018: Those Cobb Cloverleaf cows, though...
MORE DEJA NEWS>> Check out what we’ve covered before (and again)
For a while, zebras had the misfortune to find themselves the victims of metro Atlanta's apparent animal magnetism.
“Who could forget the hapless zebra that escaped from the circus and dashed through downtown Atlanta traffic in 2010?,” Fran Jeffries wrote in a Dec. 2014 AJC.com article. “That was the second zebra sighting after one was found injured and grazing by the side of the road in Spalding County in 2007. Rescuers named it ‘Evidence.’”
Among Atlanta’s menagerie of wayward beasts on the prowl at various times during the past decade? A Bengal tiger, a bison, a turkey trotting on Ga. 400, an emu and a truckload of chickens crossing the road in ways they likely never expected. A Zoo Atlanta-bound venomous snake slithered around the neighboring Grant Park area in 2010, meeting its end on the front porch of a home 100 yards away from the zoo. A resident beat it to death.
But just as drivers and police did their best to contain the 2018 cow cavalcades, The Great Connector Cattle Roundup of ‘73 saw cooperation between cops and commuter cowpokes alike.
“Officers were assisted by dozens of citizens who stopped their cars to [chase down the escaped calves,” Chuck Bell wrote. In fact, some folks rustled the little dogies right on home.
“About five calves were carried away by civilians who, according to [Atlanta Police] Lt. W.K. Perry, ‘deserved something for working so hard.’”
By midnight, most of the June 3 bovine breakaways were found and herded off to decidedly greener pastures than Interstate 85 offered. But a fair number remained out on the town and police weren’t optimistic about their cattle futures.
“Somebody is probably barbecuing them already,” Lt. Perry told the Constitution.
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