Friendship Night recalls 30 years in the history of Tyrone

Ron Thomas spoke at the Tyrone Area Historical Society’s Friendship Night last week, engaging guests with a series of color slides depicting three events that shaped Tyrone’s history — all of which occurred in or around 1972. Thomas’s father documented the Pennsylvania House Hotel fire of January 1972, the Flood of 1972 that same June and the construction of the Tyrone Bypass, what is now a part of I-99. This is part two of the recount of his presentation.
“On June 12, 1972, Tyrone was beginning to see a rainfall of 12 inches in what would be a little over four days,” he recalled of the flood, which was caused by Hurricane Agnes. Thomas recalled 250 residents were sheltered at the Tyrone Area High School. The majority of the evacuees were from the Bald Eagle Avenue area of town.
Thomas recounted the flood and took the crowd through a virtual tour of Tyrone during the flood. The slides depicted the 900 block of Logan Avenue with its submerged parking meters and the 9th Street foot bridge with the water from the Little Juniata just skimming underneath.
Thomas’s photographs also showed the damage created when Sink Run carved a new course down the alley in the rear of 15th Street. He recalled how the garages along the alley were full of vehicles that the residents could not move until after the cleanup was underway.
Thomas also showed pictures of the construction of the Tyrone Bypass. “For years I lived on Washington Avenue and all of the traffic in town came through Washington Avenue,” he said. “The probably wasn’t anyone in town that was more happy to see a bypass than me.”
Thomas said that the two reasons he looked at the bypass as a benefit included the trucks that would gear down along the avenue. He also joked how truck drivers would often fail to note the clearance of the railroad underpass at Washington and 10th Street and would get stuck.
Thomas’s slides depicted the construction of the bridges that elevated the new highway above the Little Juniata and Route 453, as well as the other aspects from bulldozing to paving.
The Tyrone Area Historical Society’s Friendship Night is an annual event and anyone interested in joining the Society should stop by the offices in the Tyrone Shopping Center Wednesday Afternoons between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.