Remembering a foggy day disaster: tribute program

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In the fog at about 3,000 feet, on March 11, 1977, two Marine helicopters slammed into the rocks and wilderness trees of the granite ridge known as World’s Edge. Five died there in the midst of crumpled metal and rubble on the site about 15 miles northwest of Columbus. Three others survived, with one actually able to stagger off in search of help. He hadn’t gone far, when coming up to him, climbing to the rescue of strangers, were men who had rushed from their jobs or homes and the security of their lives far below. 

That day of tragedy became a testament to selfless men and women who rallied to help in any way they could. There were the men who labored down with a survivor on a stretcher adapted from a helicopter loading ramp. There were those who stayed behind unsheltered through the drizzly night so that the dead would not be alone. There were volunteers in the valley that made sure that every helping hand got a plate of hot food and a cup of fresh coffee.

In memory and tribute on the 40th anniversary, Harry Denton will share the history and heritage of a “Foggy Day Disaster Atop World’s Edge.” Denton, a Polk County native and former county commissioner, rents cabins at World’s Edge and thinks more folks should know what happened there and appreciate what that day says about the community.

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“You may recognize some of the names in my presentation,” he says. “Ruff, Lawter, Wilson, and others. So many are nameless though…people there doing only what they felt was the right thing to do.

“I also want to invite anyone with memories about the crash. First hand knowledge or stories you’ve heard, please come, tell us so that more names can be known and recognized and more of our local history remembered.”

Artifacts will also be on display at the 40th Anniversary Tribute program, Tuesday, March 7 at 2:30 p.m., Polk County Historical Association Museum, 60 Walker St. Columbus. Entrance is on the lower level at the rear of the building. For more information, call 828-894-3351 or visit

– article submitted by Vincent Verrecchio