1965 – Gene Seski crashes a truckload of bananas in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Gene Seski was an experienced truck driver who, on the 18th of March, 1965, was driving a semi-trailer load of bananas from the piers in New Jersey to the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. His chosen route was Rt. 307, a long, slow descent that winds for two miles into Scranton. It features a section in which, over the course of a single mile, the road drops 500 feet in elevation.

For reasons unknown, Seski lost control of his vehicle. It was travelling at about 90 miles an hour when this happened, and the combination of the truck’s momentum and the downhill slope ensured that it travelled a considerable distance before it came to rest at the corner of Moosic St and S. Irving Ave. Seski did not survive the crash, and the thirty thousand pounds of bananas were scattered all about the vicinity, many of them smeared to a paste.

Referenced in:
30,000 Pounds of Bananas — Harry Chapin

1967 – The Torrey Canyon oil spill

At its time, the worst ever oil spill, the wreck of the Torrey Canyon spilled more than 32 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of the Atlantic off Cornwall. The ship had collided with Pollard’s Rock on Seven Stones reef between the Cornish mainland and the Isles of Scilly as a result of human errors.

The ship broke up while a refloating was being attempted, leading to the death of one of the workers. In the weeks that followed, the slick from the spill spread to coasts of the United Kingdom, France, Spain and assorted Channel Islands, especially Guernsey. The wreck was bombed, both to set the oil ablaze (and thus remove it from the ocean) and destroy the ship (which now posed a hazard to navigation). Its remains now lie in 30 metres of water off the coast of Cornwall.

Referenced in:
Torrey Canyon — Serge Gainsbourg