Elk Mountain, WY Airliner Crashes Into Peak, Jan 1946

Elk Mountain WY Crash locatioin.jpg


Cheyenne, Wyo., Jan. 31. -- (AP) -- Cold weather Thursday night forced a searching party to turn back after climbing to within 300 feet of the top of Elk mountain where a United Air Lines transport apparently crashed early Thursday.
Members of the party reported their faces were freezing as they sought to scale the south face of the 11,125-foot peak 65 miles northwest of Laramie and confirm a report by aerial searchers that the plane, carrying 18 passengers and three crew members, crashed on the northwest side of the mountain.
JIM GOWDY, representative of United Air Lines, who disclosed the return of the first searching party, said another party would start up the mountain Friday morning. He said air-line officials would take off in a plane in an attempt to fly closer to the scene of the reported crash than was possible Thursday because of clouds.
A heavy fog still shrouded the mountain Thursday night and strong winds whipped snow into the faces of the ranchers and sheepherders.
A black streak, sighted three times through momentary breaks in the lone cloud that hovered over the mountain, convinced Captain FRANK CRISMON, N. A. L. assistant supervisor of flight operations in Denver, and four other aerial searchers the the Seattle-to-New York plane crashed on the peak about 3 a. m.
"We definitely feel that we sighted the wreckage," Captain GRISMON said. He saw the wreckage from about a quarter mile and for only a few seconds each time, and could give no details.
Fifty soldiers were en route to the scene from Fort Warren at Cheyenne, Wyo., to assist in the search and take charge of the bodies of 12 redeploying soldiers feared killed with six civilians and three crew members.
About 2:40 a. m. the capacity-loaded ship had radioed a routine "all's well" report from over Sinclair, Wyo., 35 miles to the west. The twin-engined Douglas transport made its last regular stop at Boise, Idaho, where it picked up MR. and MRS. GEORGE A. BENDER, en route to their home in Sheffield, Ill., after their Monday wedding at Twin Falls, Idaho.
The plane with its 12 redeploying soldiers, six civilians and three crew members was due in Denver at 4:20 a. m. and when its reports ceased coming in, searching planes were prepared for dawn takeoffs.
It was estimated that snow on the level around the mountain was four to five feet and that drifts on its sides might reach 12 or 15 feet.
United Air Lines late Thursday was setting up a search base at the QUALY ranch at the foot of the mountain and Sheriff GLENN PENLAND of Rawlins, Wyo., was siding with a party of eight mountain-wise men.
Deputy Sheriff JACK BEST at Rawlins said that some aerial searchers had reported seeing a burned patch about 200 feet below the tip of Elk mountain. He emphasized that with wind and snow conditions as they were the scaling of the peak would be a dangerous and difficult task that would require snowshoes, skis, heavy winter clothing and many hours of hard work.
Along with the wind, clouds piled up around the mountain, balking further aerial exploration for many hours. Fresh snow squalls, in increasing wind, obscured the upper half of the peak by midafternoon.

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My uncle died on this flight.

My uncle died on this flight. Sadly, we are all connected to this tragedy.

Photos of crash site

My dad was one of the soldiers sent from Ft Warren to the crash site to recover the bodies. He also accompanied one of the soldiers bodies back to their family in New York. He often talked about his experience and has photos of the crash site in his photo album. He just passed away a few weeks ago at age 99.

Elk Mountain Jan 1946 Crash

My dad was one of the soldiers sent from Ft. Warren for recovery efforts at the top of the mountain. I have his photos of the crash site. He often talked about the crash and recovery. He just passed away a few days ago which had me looking at his Army photos and researching the crash which led me to this web site.

I hope this brought you

I hope this brought you closure. I am the niece of the newly married couple. So very said

Crash of DC-3 on Elk Mountain in 1946

I read your trip report on the crash of a DC -3 on Elk Mountain in 1946. I found the crash site twice in 1960. It was to the West of the lookout by two huge broken off trees. I first went to it with a friend of mine I hayed with and later my cousin Rod. I think they would have not crashed if they had not hit the two big trees. Each tree was about 3 foot in diameter. They were only about 50 feet from the top. Most of the parts were just beyond the 2 trees to the South East. I found a DC- 3 access cover to the gas caps there verifying it as a DC 3. When I showed it to my Uncle Robert, he also identified it. He said: " I recognize the access cover to the gas caps since when I have flown on a DC 3, I have seen those access covers flopping in the wind when they forget to close them. " I heard that a rancher took his pickup to the top and hauled the metal to the scrap yard to sell. This is probably why the crash site is hard to find today. Also I heard they used the electric starting motors to the DC 3s engines as electric winches for their trucks. I am am trying to find out info on a Standard Biplane shown below that crashed into Elk Mountain in the 20s in a race. My Uncle Robert had a wooden strut from it which I identified from the photo below of the Standard gassing up in Cheyenne during the race. The article with the picture said the pilot died and his passenger had serious injuries. It was heading West in the air race after gassing up in Cheyenne. They were following the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, hugging the ground in a low ceiling. I think Sherman who tried to help you find the DC 3 crash site is my cousin. Please call me.

Dwight Lee Bates
(509) 925 5055

My dad was killed in this crash

I am taking a trip next week to Elk Mtn to be where the plane crashed ending my dads life - I was only 7 months old and I am now 68 years old but need to finally get closure on saying goodby to the dad i never knew! I plan on leaving him a letter on the mountain top. :(