1964 Viaduct Fire in Ardmore, Oklahoma

On July 4, 1964 the 5th Avenue Viaduct caught fire, reportedly by kids playing with fireworks. The Viaduct was the link between the Northeast part of Ardmore and the Northwest, crossing over the railroad tracks. It was made of creosote post, so the fire produced very dark, black smoke and was it a hot fire.

On the day of the fire Doyle Williams took pictures of the fire with a 8mm camera. He graciously made the 3 minute film available on CD on the 37th anniversary of the famous fire and sent me one. Below is the README file from the CD Doyle created:


July 4, 2001

Dear Butch,

The .mov files on this CD are all of the viaduct fire, which occurred on July 4, 1964. I was age 21 (I am 58 now) at the time and was home from college for the summer. My brother Bobby Williams and I were running an errand when we saw the smoke. I had been a home movie fan since the 6th grade, when I bought an 8mm Kodak Home Movie kit (windup camera, projector, and screen) with the profits from my northeast Ardmore paper route with the Daily Oklahoman. It was this windup Kodak camera that I used to film the fire. I tried to always have the camera nearby and to have a roll of film available. Bobby and I went home and quickly grabbed the camera, alerted my sister Melba, and went to the fire. I shot an entire 50 ft. roll of film on the fire. Both Bobby and Melba appear briefly in the film.

I had hoped to copy the viaduct fire movie with my new DV video camera, but alas when I got out my newer (but still old) Elmo K-100SM projector to show the film, I found that the belts were broken (from old age). Fortunately, I had a copy of the film which I had made with a high-band 8mm camera about 10 years ago. I converted the high-band 8mm to DV and then converted the DV into the QuickTime files that are on this CD. I will work on the Elmo later.

These files represent conversions from DV to QuickTime with different compressors. Sor3=Sorenson Video 3, the newest Sorenson compressor. H263 is another compressor. So the file name, "Viaduct Fire 160 Sor3 10L.mov" means that the picture is 160 pixels wide, made with the Sorenson Video 3 compressor, at 10 frames/sec., and used the Low quality setting (smaller file and less quality). You will see that the files range from 184 mb for a 480 pixel picture at 24 frames/sec and High Quality down to 2.5 mb for 160 pixel picture at 10 frames/sec, and a Low Quality setting. All are "Web Ready," which I think means that they will start playing before all the download is complete. Obviously you don't want to put the big files on the internet, but you might one of the others.

I have also included the QuickTime installer for both PC and Mac (CD will boot on either system), just in case you don't have QuickTime installed already.

I hope you enjoy this.

Doyle W. Williams
Fort Worth, Texas


Youtube video of fire. CLICK HERE


Last modified October 20, 2013

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