In 1956, two commercial airplanes collided over the easternmost portion of Grand Canyon. The wreckage rained into the canyon in the area of the Little Colorado River’s confluence with the Colorado River. After the hasty recovery of 128 deceased passengers and crew, it took years before the NPS could complete the removal of the remaining debris from the rugged stretch of Inner Canyon.
The tragedy received worldwide press coverage at the time, and became the impetus for the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration. Stricter flight rules for both commercial and private aircraft nationwide quickly followed.
On April 23, 2014, the site of the crash became an official National Historic Landmark (officially named “The 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site”) when Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis signed the nomination. A number of upcoming events will officially commemorate both the tragedy, and the Landmark status. These include:
- Monday, June 30, 2014 – interpretive programs throughout the day at Desert View beginning at 9:00 a.m.; laying of wreaths at Grand Canyon Cemetery at 10:00 a.m.; evening interpretive program at McKee Amphitheater at 8:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, National Historic Landmark Designation at the Desert View amphitheaters at 10:00 a.m.
These free events are open to the public. More information will be available at the NPS visitor centers and contact stations at various locations along the South Rim.