BENTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been just over 60 years since a plane carrying Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and the pilot, Randy Hughes, crashed in Benton County.
It was a dark day for country music, but one that is memorialized in Middle Tennessee to this day.
“It was a very stormy night in rural Benton county,” said Lorie Matlock, the executive director of the Benton County Chamber of Commerce.
March 5, 1963 was the day the plane came crashing down in the middle of the woods.
Patsy Cline, and fellow musicians Copas, Hawkins and the pilot, Hughes, all died on impact. They were on a flight home to Nashville after performing in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It changed country music forever because family members were lost and country music stars that were just in the beginning of their career. You know, it changed the legacy of country music and what they could have been,” said Matlock.
Six decades later, the memorial remains a place of peace for people to remember her life and music. “Very much unchanged,” said Matlock. “We try to keep the sight we have a pathway down to a memorial rock that is engraved. And at one point there is no talking, there’s silence after that point. This is a place for people to come and reflect and pay tribute to the lives that were lost.”
The pathway from the road goes to a gazebo and a marker, which was just added thanks to a grant the county received. A kiosk was added as well to play Cline’s music, but it was vandalized and never replaced. Now, the memorial’s upkeep is up to the community.
“We have a thing in Benton County called ‘One Heart and One Community” where in September, people get together and they just pick something that they want to do. And a lot of people will just get together and say, ‘Hey, we want to go out to the Patsy Cline site.” said Matlock.
The long-term hope for the memorial is to be able to track all the visitors each year. For now, the memorial is a quiet, unassuming place for country music lovers to remember Patsy, Cowboy, Hawkshaw and Randy. The memorial is located in Camden, about 85 miles from Nashville on Mount Carmel Road.