Truck overturns, spilling elephants, in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood on May 23, 1958.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 2/22/2001
  • Essay 3005
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On May 23, 1958, a trailer bearing four elephants from Woodland Park Zoo overturns at the corner of Phinney Avenue and 67th Street, damaging a car. The elephants are uninjured and wander about briefly, but are walked back to the zoo through a crowd of gaping passersby.

Dropping a Load

The incident occured at noon. The elephants were being transported by owner Morgan Berry to an event in Everett. Soon after leaving the zoo, the truck and trailer rounded the corner at 67th Street. At the same time, the elephants shifted their weight, overturning the transport onto a parked car owned by Richard M. Williams, who was away from his auto.

The car was damaged but the elephants were not. The puzzled, but peaceful pachyderms calmly left their overturned vehicle as crowds gathered to see such a sight. Mrs. F. E. Ungar, who lived near the corner, stated, "I've never seen anything like it. Imagine elephants all over my front lawn!"


Mrs. Ungar wasn't the only person to boggle at the bizarre scene. Schoolchildren from nearby John B. Allen School were on their lunchbreak at the time of the accident, and lost no time running over to see the wandering behemoths.

Teachers from the school rushed over to herd the pupils at about the same time the elephant keepers began herding their charges. The elephants were walked down the sidewalk in single file, back to their quarters at the Woodland Park Zoo.

No mention was made in the newspapers of Mr. Williams' reaction upon returning to his somewhat flattened car.


"Trailer with 4 Elephants Upsets," The Seattle Times, May 23, 1958, p. 1.

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