I’m too young to remember much about Buddy Holly, but I remember seeing film The Buddy Holly Story and I grew up listening to that Weezer song.
Today, I woke up early with my husband and decided to visit the site where the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) crashed, killing all three musicians and their pilot in the winter of 1959.
They played their last show at the Surf Ballroom, a venue located near the part of Clear Lake bustling with beach goers and restaurants.
The crash site is located on a private farm, so there’s not an exact address. I got slightly lost due to road construction until I found these updated directions on Roadside America.
From 35W, take the Clear Lake Exit 197. Go west and turn onto Hickory Ave., a gravel road. You can only take Hickory Ave. one direction, north. In about a mile and a half, turn left onto 315 St. and drive another mile or so until it dead ends at Gull Ave. You’ll see this statue marking the walking trail to the crash site and memorials. I pulled to the side of 315 St. and parked near the quiet intersection.
As a city kid, I’m unnerved by open spaces. I’ve only felt this alone once during my life, when I drove North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway in the late fall.It’s so strange to be the only person in sight, and I find it terrifying and exhilarating. Every few minutes, I startled a group of birds that rose from the grass. They flew above me and squawked until they found a place to land along the fence. I tried not to think of Tippi Hedren.
When I returned to the intersection, another car pulled over. I met three individuals who have lived in Clear Lake for 40-years and wanted to visit the site for the first time. At 9:45 a.m., the air was muggy and the temperature had already risen to 90 degrees.
They asked me if the hike was worth it. I replied that it depends what one is looking for.
Then, I wished them well and jumped into the comfort of my car’s air conditioning.