A granite monument standing tall in the swaying grass of the Kansas Flinthills marks the spot where Knute Rockne, a famous Notre Dame football coach, died in a plane crash on a cool March morning in 1931. Rockne was one of eight on TWA flight 599 - all died instantly. Etched on the granite monument are the names of all those on the plane that morning, but Rockne’s name sits at the top of the list.
Rockne was on his way to California to consult on a movie being made to commemorate his legendary career. It’s unclear what caused the plane, a Fokker 999E, to spiral out of control, but some accounts blame a freak storm that those who lived in Kansas are not unfamiliar with. The site of the crash was a tourist attraction for weeks, with Kansas natives flocking to the site from all over the state. In the decades since, the sensation has worn off and the small memorial was erected.
The memorial, which sits at the exact site of the crash that killed Rockne, is on private property and no public access is allowed unless there’s a special event taking place or special arrangements with the owner have been made.
Know Before You Go
Three miles south of Bazaar Schoolhouse on K-177.
- 3 o'Clock AM: "As seen in Kansas: The final resting place of Fokker Niner Niner Easy" (April 2010): http://3oclockam.blogspot.com/2010/04/as-seen-in-kansas-final-resting-place.html
- Chase County, Kansas: Knute Rockne Memorial: http://www.chasecountyks.org/attractions/Knute_rockne.htm
- Wikipedia: Knute Rockne: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knute_Rockne
- Kansas Photo Tour: Knute Rockne Crash Site Memorial: http://www.kansasphototour.com/rockne.htm