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Big-rig chicken spill recalls famous Hollywood Freeway Chickens

October 21, 2011 |  9:49 am

Freeway chickens
A big rig that spilled 5,000 live chickens ruffled a few feathers Thursday morning when they shut down lanes of a Northern California interstate near Vacaville, but longtime Angelenos may recall a similar poultry accident on the Hollywood Freeway that became part of L.A. lore.

In that 1969 crash, a truck driver was taking 500 to 1,000 chickens from the Valley to an L.A. slaughterhouse. At least 200 chickens flew the coop, escaping into the brush near the Vineland Avenue on ramp in Studio City.

Former Times columnist Steve Harvey, recalling that accident in a column in 2009, reported that the chickens -– like any good L.A. story –- quickly became famous and even inspired a screenplay.

"Commuters caught in traffic jams passed the time observing the free-living fowl," The Times' T.W. McGarry wrote. "Chickens have a slim repertoire of amusing antics, but it doesn't take much to distract someone inching up Cahuenga Pass at 2.2 mph."

The so-called Freeway Chickens were fed by locals and lived for decades along the freeway.

"They were dubbed the New Freeway Chickens in honor of Hollywood's love for sequels," Harvey wrote.


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Photo: Chickens can be seen on the Hollywood Freeway shoulder in 1981. An overturned poultry truck brought such birds to the area near the 101 and 170 freeways in 1969. Credit: Los Angeles Times