The infamous “watch for falling cows” road sign, popular in social media memes, is based on something that actually happened.
The real “watch for falling cows” sign really exists on a rural California road, Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Groth told Cowboy State Daily.
Apparently, some cattle pastures there are situated above a highway in such a manner that “gravity could take over” and send hapless cattle plummeting to the roadway, he said.
An article from Roadtrip America confirms the sign’s existence.
Falling Cow Creams Minivan
And in 2007 in Washington State, there was an actual incident of a plummeting cow taking out a minivan. The van’s two human occupants escaped serious injury, but the cow had to be euthanized at the scene.
According to news reports from the time, Charles Everson Jr. and his wife Linda of Westland, Michigan, were driving on Highway 150 near Manson, Washington, while on a road trip to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
A 600-pound cow, which had been reported missing by a breeder, slipped off the edge of a roadside cliff. It fell roughly 200 feet and slammed into the hood of the Eversons’ minivan, totaling the vehicle.
Wyoming Signs Spawned Conspiracy Theories
Wyoming doesn’t have any road signs nearly as interesting or bizarre as “watch for falling cows,” WYDOT spokesman Doug McGee told Cowboy State Daily.
Instead, small signs — featuring various line-and-dot patterns and attached to highway delineator posts — spawned conspiracy theories, he said. WYDOT quit using them a few years ago.
But when they were in use, they apparently started rumors that they were coded signals for shadow government helicopter landing sites, McGee said.
“Some people thought that they were some kind of indicators for where the black helicopters could land (and) the government could take over,” he said.
In reality, they were placed on the delineator posts to guide road painting crews where to put in “passing” and “no passing” zone stripes, he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.