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Clifton Train Wreck (1964)

Gordon Wilkison

Silent | 1964

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  •  The camera pans across the side of the Clifton Mercantile Co., located at 126 Avenue D. 
  •  ATSF F-units at Clifton, TX involved in a passenger train wreck 
 
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Footage shot for an Austin-based network news affiliate uses aerial footage to document the aftermath of a train wreck in the small town of Clifton, Texas. Most likely the footage covers an incident that occurred on September 14, 1964 when a passenger train carrying 81 people collided with a gasoline tanker truck. No passengers were injured, but the train's engineer and fireman were both killed.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
 
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
 
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.