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Pages From Our Past: Knute Rockne dies in plane crash (1931)

As the Elkhart Truth celebrates its 125th anniversary, we look back at this front page from March 31, 1931.

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 7:24 p.m.

March 31, 1931: Knute Rockne, 7 Others Killed in Plane Crash

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne was en route to Los Angeles when his plane burst into flames midair, crashed in a Kansas pasture and killed everyone aboard. The accident shook the nation—Rockne was beloved as not only a great football player, but also a revolutionary coach and figurehead of sportsmanship. As head coach, he let the Fighting Irish to a still-unrivaled record of 105 wins, 12 losses, 5 ties and 6 national championships.

This article from 1931 says that Rockne was heading to LA on business for Studebaker Corp. of America, a car manufacturer for which he often performed speaking engagements, though later reports say he was traveling to assist with filming of the movie “The Spirit of Notre Dame.” Still, after his death, Studebaker named a line of cars after Rockne and gave a portion of profits to his widow.

In local news this day, a Purdue professor “urges action for banishing of smoke evil” in Elkhart. The professor spoke to a group of local business owners about the damages smoke and soot could do to health and property. The chairman of the board of public works, speaking on behalf of the mayor, responded that the city government “does not feel it would be wise to enact a smoke control ordinance at this time” due in part to the hardship a mandatory change of equipment may cause to local business owners.

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