November 7, 2012

Oversize Vehicle Creates Dangerous Driving Conditions



As facilitator of the Beanery Writers Group I send out four writing prompts to members and other writers on a mailing list*. This is the prompt I e-mailed this week (all photos taken through the front windshield of our car while driving down the road):

While my husband Monte and I were returning from Winchester and Cumberland we followed the following “oversize load.”

Answer the following questions about this “thing:”

What is it?

Where did it come from?

Where is it going?

What will it be used for?

Who ordered it?

When will it be functional for its purpose?

How dangerous to other vehicles is its travel?

Add any other thoughts or ideas.

If desired, go one step further: create a story or poem using the answers to the questions.

I assume the prompt tells you what this post is about.


We’d come upon the truck shortly after leaving Normalville, Pennsylvania, where Route 381N joined Route 711N to Route 30. At Route 30 the routes separated again.

At Route 31 the truck bore left and turned onto 711N. From there we followed it to Route 30, where it turned east toward Laurel Mountain.

During the journey Monte and I noted that the truck maintained a steady speed, slowing down only to make severe, sharp turns. The truck’s cargo measured, Monte estimated, about eighteen feet. At one point Monte and I thought the cargo might tip over.

We tried to see the lead truck, finally spotting it on a curve that let us see it. This truck appeared to be all the escort the cargo had. It drove ahead of the cargo truck, encouraging oncoming vehicles to move to the side of the road.

Oncoming sometimes pulled over. Others passed by without even slowing down.

I imagine the lead truck took oncoming drivers off guard. I’m sure it would have surprised me. It provided little warning of the cargo truck coming. At several points there were oncoming school buses and big trucks. Once two huge trucks, one possibly an oil truck, were nudged to the edge of the opposite side of the road.

To us, this was a dangerous situation.  We wondered why there wasn’t more warning for the oncoming traffic.

Ligonier was in view:

We watched the truck maneuver the turn from Route 711 onto Route 30.

“It’s not going to try to get up that mountain?” we both questioned in wonderment.

When the three vehicles it pulled over into Ruthies Restaurant parking lot, at the foot of Laurel Mountain, Monte pulled in too. I went over to talk to the drivers.

The driver of the lead truck said they were heading up Laurel Mountain to Route 219, and headed an additional 160 miles. Their point of origination was Oklahoma.

I commented on the danger. They seemed to recognize my point. I warned them about the dangerous curve on the mountain.

And they told me it was a big fan which had many uses.

Then I suggested that Ruthie’s served a pretty good meal, if they were interested. However, they were going to continue on.


I arrived at the local café early the next day, expecting to do some writing on my novel while I slowly sipped my coffee and at breakfast.

When I sat down I overheard a conversation at an adjacent table about the oversize load. Of course, it took my attention.

I’ll summarize what I learned from the man I’ll call Rufus.

This thing was huge. It had to be eighteen feet wide (same estimate Monte made). It probably only weighed 50,000-55,000 pounds.

“It was probably the widest load I’ve seen on the road,” Rufus said.

It pulled in by the old IGA market. There were three state police officers there. I went over, pulled in, but never got out of my truck. The driver was standing there. I asked him why he didn’t have a state police escort. He said he’d been complaining about that all the way from Oklahoma, their starting point. The driver of the lead truck doesn’t know what he is doing. Rufus asked the man where he was going.


I guess Rufus assumed the truck would be following Rt. 711 north, through the town of Ligonier.

“You’ll never make it around the Diamond (the center of town, a circular parklet with a gazebo in the center).

Rufus learned that the crew was taking the huge item up Laurel Mountain.

You’d better close it down, it’s two lane and there wouldn’t be enough room for a coal bucket (truck) to pass by.’

Rufus left the scene as the officer was preparing to weigh the truck carrying the big object.

Rufus speculated that the truck had turned onto Rt. 711 from the turnpike.

“No,” I said. “We caught up with it on Rt. 711 between Normalville and Rt. 31. We followed it all the way to Ruthies Restaurant (east of 711 on Rt. 30, at the bottom of Laurel Mountain).

There was speculation about whether the trucker was legally driving along these rural routes.

“He’s permitted to, he has a state permit which allows him to travel where overloads aren’t permitted.”

“They were going to go north on 219,” Rufus said. “It totally amazed me how they would get it up the hill. I said they should have a state cop at top and the bottom of the mountain.

“Traffic was coming down the mountain this morning so he must have made it through.”

“He couldn’t steer the back end.”


“So what was this machine?” I asked.

“An intercooler for a gasline, a big radiator for natural gas,” Rufus answered.


“What really gets me about that is that I know of four shops around here that could have built that. Consider the shipping costs from Oklahoma.

“He wouldn’t put a truck under it for less than $20,000”


For this part of the morning, the day after the presidential election, the truck with the big load trumped conversation about the election results.

NOTE: Disclaimer: these comments above may be somewhat contrived. However, the information, to the best of my ability, is accurate.

*The Beanery Writers Group meets in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the second and fourth Fridays each month. Visit the Beanery Online Literary Magazine ( )for further information.



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