October 20, 1944: The Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosion takes place. Liquefied natural gas is predominately methane which has been converted into liquid form for storage or transport purposes. It is much denser taking up only about 1/600th the volume of the gaseous state. It is odorless, colorless, non-toxic, and non-corrosive. It is also flammable. At this time, liquid natural gas was often stored above ground and the East Ohio Gas Company had a tank farm located near Lake Erie on East 61st Street in Cleveland, Ohio. These tank farms were similar in looks to the tanks still seen today which store gasoline.
October 20, 1944 was a Friday and at about 2.30 PM tank number four began to leak. A seam on the side of the tank allowed a vapor to leave the tank. Winds from Lake Erie pushed the vapor in towards the city. Since it was heavier than air, the vapor dropped into sewer lines via catch basins in the street gutters. The gas mixture and the sewer gas combined and the concoction ignited. The resulting explosion blew manhole covers high into the air as jets of fire escaped from the sewer lines. One manhole cover was located several miles east in the Glenville neighborhood.
The initial explosion was thought to be an isolated event and it was felt the disaster was contained. People returned to their homes thinking the fire department had the issue under control. At 3 PM, a second above-ground tank exploded and leveled the entire tank farm. More explosions and more fires followed. People who had returned to the safety of their homes were now trapped by the fires. Not only were the manhole covers a relief valve for the compressed gasses beneath the city, but drains were also an escape hatch and as the gasses were released, home were instantly set ablaze, along with everything and everyone inside them.
Cuyahoga County Coroner, Dr. Samuel Gerber, estimated the initial death toll at 200. He was quoted as saying the magnitude of the fire and the intensity of the heat would have had vaporized human flesh and bone, making an exact count impossible until much later. Fortunately, the death toll was less than Gerber had imagined. In all, 130 people died in the blasts. Another 600 were left homeless. Seventy homes, two factories, uncounted cars, and miles of underground infrastructure were destroyed. Many people not only lost their home, but all their possessions which often included money, stocks, and bonds. It was estimated that between $7 and 15 million in personal and industrial property was lost to the disaster. As a result of this catastrophe, above ground liquid natural gas became less common and underground storage came to be the norm.
Natural gas obviously brings with it a number of quality-of-life environmental benefits because it is a relatively clean-burning fuel. It has a CO2 footprint, but it has no particulates. It has none of the other emissions elements that are of concern to public health that other forms of power-generation fuels do have: coal, fuel oil, others. – Rex Tillerson
Compared to coal, which generates almost half the electricity in the United States, natural gas is indeed a cleaner, less polluting fuel. But compared to, say, solar, it’s filthy. And of course there is nothing renewable about natural gas. – Jeff Goodell
Natural gas is a better transportation fuel than gasoline, so if that’s the case, it’s cheaper, it’s cleaner and it’s a domestic resource. – T. Boone Pickens
Hydraulic fracking is very much a necessary part of the future of natural gas. – Ken Salazar
Also on this day: Subway Vigilante – In 1987, Bernard (Bernie) Goetz was sentenced.
What Big Feet You Have – In 1967, a film of Bigfoot was taken – maybe.
Football Fiasco – In 1851, Johnny Bright was injured on the field.
Kragujevac – In 1941 the Kragujevac massacre began.
October 19, 1781: The Siege of Yorktown ends. This was a defining battle of the American Revolutionary War which lasted from September 28 until this day, ending with a victory for the combined troops of the Continental Army, led by George Washington, and the French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau. The British were under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. This was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. The capture of Cornwallis and the surrender of his troops led the British government to negotiate an end to the war.
As the fighting continued, advancing Continental troops with their allies were outnumbering British troops and their allies about two to one. They were able to contain Cornwallis and his ability to retreat and regroup was halted at York River. On the morning of October 17, a British officer waved a white flag in surrender. The bombardment ceased and the officer was led behind enemy lines and negotiations began at the Moore House on the next day. The negotiators included Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross for the British, Lieutenant Colonel Laurens for the Americans, and the Marquis de Noailles for the French. In order to retain the favor of the French, Washington gave them equal say in the negotiations.
The capitulation was signed on this day; signatories included Washington, Rochambeau, the Comte de Barras (for the French Navy), Cornwallis, and Lieutenant Thomas Symonds (British Navy). Cornwallis’s troops were considered prisoners of war and were given a promise of good treatment. Officers were permitted to return home after taking parole. At 2 PM, all was in place and the British asked for the traditional Honors of War which included marching with flags waving and muskets shouldered while playing an enemy tune as a signal of tribute to the victors. This was denied just as the defeated men in Charleston had been denied this right earlier.
The Americans captured 8,000 troops, 214 artillery pieces, thousands of muskets, 24 transport ships, and other spoils of war. Cornwallis refused to meet formally with Washington, claiming illness and refused to come to the ceremonies. Brigadier general Charles O’Hara came in Cornwallis’s stead and offered the sword of surrender to Rochambeau. Rochambeau demurred to Washington. O’Hara then offered the sword to Washington who also refused to take the sword but signaled instead to his second in command. Benjamin Lincoln, the defeated Major General at Charleston, finally took the sword from the humiliated O’Hara. The British marched out, laid down their arms between the French and American armies and those on the other side of the river also surrendered at the same time.
I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country.
Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.
I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.
Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness. – all from George Washington
Also on this day: Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.
Disco - In 1959, the Scotch-Club opened.
October 18, 1954: Texas Instruments (TI) and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.) announce the breakthrough Regency TR-1. The Dallas, Texas Company partnered with their friends in Indianapolis, Indiana to produce the first transistor radio. Texas Instruments’ business model had them supplying instrumentation to the oil industry and locating devices to the US Navy. I.D.E.A. built home TV antenna boosters. In May, TI designed and built a prototype of a transistor radio in the hopes of a new market for their transistors. None of the major radio makers (RCA, Philco, and Emerson) were interested. Ed Tudor, president of I.D.E.A., took the chance and predicted 20 million units would be sold in the first three years.
Announced on this day, the small radio went on sale in November. Billboard reported the new radio had only four transistors. While the size was remarkably handy, the sound quality left something to be desired. One year after its release, sales were approaching 100,000 units. In February 1955, Raytheon 8-TP-1 was introduced by Raytheon. It was larger and included a four-inch speaker with double the number of transistors used. The Raytheon 8-TR-1 still had just four transistors. Consumer Report gave a promising review in July, noting that while not the world’s smallest radio, the sound quality was much improved. Once the way was paved, Zenith, RCA, DeWald, and Crosley jumped on the bandwagon and added their own versions for sale.
Today, the cost of an iPod is about $150-190 for a 16 GB unit. The Regency TR-1 cost $49.95 when released. That is about $440 today. The reason for this was the difficulty in making transistors. At the time, only one if five transistors actually worked as expected. With only a 20% success rate, the costs were extremely high. The Raytheon 8-TR-1 cost about $80 or $700 in today’s dollars. By November of 1956, radios were small enough to be worn on the wrist and cost only $29.95. The first all transistor radio for a car was developed by Chrysler and Philco. It was called Mopar 914HR and was available as an option in the fall of 1955. The radio added $150 to the cost of the car or $1,300 in today’s currency.
In 1952, Masura Ibuka, founder of Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation was in the US and found AT&T was about to make licensing available for the transistor. Japan purchased a license for $25,000 ($220,000 today). In August 1955, the Japanese company now called Sony introduced their first five transistor radio model in the US. The first two models were not very successful. But the December 1957 version, TR-63 was smaller, came in four colors, and used a nine-volt battery. This battery size would become the standard. Not immediately successful, by 1959, six Japanese transistor radio manufactures had models for sale in the US which represented $62 million in revenue.
You don’t need to know this – but here goes: due to some acquired infantilism, I feel compelled to fall asleep listening to the radio. On a good night, I’ll push the frail barque of my psyche off into the waters of Lethe accompanied by the midnight newsreader – on a bad one, it’s the shipping forecast. – Will Self
If the education of our kids comes from radio, television, newspapers – if that’s where they get most of their knowledge from, and not from the schools, then the powers that be are definitely in charge, because they own all those outlets. – Maynard James Keenan
Mass communication, radio, and especially television, have attempted, not without success, to annihilate every possibility of solitude and reflection. – Eugenio Montale
If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners. – Johnny Carson
Also on this day: Le Bateau – In 1961, Henri Matisse’s painting was hung at the Museum of Modern Art – upside down.
Not the Essex – In 1851, Moby-Dick was published in England.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre – In 1009, the church was destroyed.
Terrorism - In 2007, a suicide bomber attacked Benazir Bhutto.
October 17, 1965: The 1964 New York World’s Fair closes. Also called EXPO New York 1964/1965, the fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding”. It was dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe” and American companies dominated the exposition. There were two six-month seasons with the first running form April 22 to October 18, 1964 and the second from April 21 – October 17, 1965. The admission price in 1964 was $2 for adults and $1 for children (about $15 and $7 respectively in 2014 dollars). The next year, the adult admission price was raised to $2.50 but children’s price remained the same.
The centerpiece of the EXPO was a twelve-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere. Surrounded by fountains, it remains intact and located in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York City. It was originally designed by landscape architect Gilmore Clarke and then refined by Industrial Designers at Peter Muller-Munk Associates. The original aluminum and metallic mesh continents morphed into the Stainless Steel globe which was built on the foundation that supported the Perisphere of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Both of these events were preceded by the 1853-54 New York World’s Fair. All three of these were the only World’s Fairs which ran for two years rather than one.
The 1964/65 fair was conceptualized by New York City businessmen who fondly remembered the fair in the City during their younger years. A feasibility study was carried out and organizers turned to private funding and the sale of bonds to pay the huge cost of staging the event. The influx of tourists was considered to be worth the investment. Many of the pavilions were built in a modern style, heavily influenced by Googie architecture – a subdivision of futurist architecture of the Space Age and Atomic Age. The buildings were often able to have a more expressive façade due to the use of modern building materials.
The Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) did not give its official sanction to the event. The absence of Canada, Australia, most major European nations and the Soviet Union tarnished the image of the fair. Almost all corporations in America had a presence along with nations with smaller economies. Spain, Vatican City, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Thailand, Philippines, Greece, Pakistan, and Ireland had national presences at the fair. One of the most popular pavilions was the Vatican City’s with Michelangelo’s Pieta on display. The fair did not have a midway as organizers did not feel it was the proper tone for the fair and the amusements provided were somewhat dull. The fair’s ending was shrouded in controversy over mismanagement of funds. The 1939 fair had returned 40 cents on the dollar for investors. This fair only returned 19.2 cents.
I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that question. – Dylan Thomas
New York is the meeting place of the peoples, the only city where you can hardly find a typical American. – Djuna Barnes
Make your mark in New York and you are a made man. – Mark Twain
New York, you are an Egypt! But an Egypt turned inside out. For she erected pyramids of slavery to death, and you erect pyramids of democracy with the vertical organ-pipes of your skyscrapers all meeting at the point of infinity of liberty! – Salvador Dalí
Also on this day: National Geographic – In 1888, the National Geographic Society began publishing a new magazine.
Fore – In 1860, the Open Championship was first played.
War on Poverty - In 1993, the UN sponsored its first International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Tornado - In 1091, the London Tornado struck.
October 16, 1814: The corroded hoops break. Horse Shoe Brewery was located in central London. It was established in 1623 and by 1787 it was the eleventh largest maker of porter of any London brewery. By 1787 they were producing slightly more than 40,000 barrels per year. Porter is a dark style beer which is first mentioned in the early 1700s. Although various tales are put forth over how the brew came to be, it seems to have descended from brown beer, a well-hopped beer made from brown malt. It’s name may have come from the popularity of the beverage among street and river porters. Porters and stouts came into use about the same time and stouts seem to be stronger porters. Guinness Extra Stout was originally called Extra Superior Porter. It became Extra Stout in 1840.
The tavern was under the ownership of Meux and Company Brewery. The vat with weak hoops contained 160,000 gallons of beer. As the hoops burst, the force of the exiting fluid caused other vats to also explode in a domino effect. Because of the added breakage, a total of 390,000 gallons of beer was set in motion. The beer cause severe damage to the building and several beams collapsed. It burst through the walls of the tavern and entered the streets. The part of London where the tavern was located was a poorer district. The place was known as St. Giles Rookery, meaning it was a slum area filled with tenements. The densely populated area had many families living the basements of the rickety multi-storied buildings.
The landscape of the region caused problems. The region is flat and there was nowhere for the beer to go. As the tide of brew swept down the street, it entered the buildings and filled basements in nearby tenements. The people trapped inside climbed on furniture to escape the rising tide. Two homes were destroyed and the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub crumbled, trapping a teenaged employee, Eleanor Cooper, under the rubble. She and seven others were killed. Thomas Mulvey was the youngest victim at age 3 who died with his mother, Ann, aged 30. Ann Saville was the oldest; she was 53.
The brewery was taken to court over the accident. The disaster was ruled an Act of God by the judge and jury. No one was responsible. The company had difficulties coping with the economic implications of the disaster. This was a significant loss of sales which was worse because they had already paid duty on the beer. The applied to Parliament to reclaim the duty and were successful which allowed them to stay in business. The cost to the brewery for the accident was about £23,000 or about £21,910,000 today or about $35.5 million. They received about £7,250 back from their returned excise taxes. They continued to be one of the largest producers of porter in London even after the disaster.
Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer. – Brendan Behan
Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world. – Jack Nicholson
Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented. – Gilbert K. Chesterton
Also on this day: Cardiff Giant- In 1869, a petrified giant is found near Cardiff.
Complex Numbers – In 1843, quaternions were first defined.
Planned Parenthood - In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened a clinic.
Disney - In 1923, Walt and Roy Disney signed a contract to produce the Alice Comedies.
October 15, 1956: The FORTRAN Automatic Coding System for the IBM 704 programmer’s reference manual is released. The name comes from FORmula TRANSlating system and it is a general-purpose imperative programming language which is especially useful for numeric computation and scientific computing. It was developed by IBM for use with scientific and engineering applications and it dominated the area of programming from the early days. It has been in continuous use since its release and today finds use in applications using massive numerical data such as weather prediction, element analysis, and computations areas of fluid dynamics, physics, and chemistry.
It is the language used for programs which benchmark and rank the world’s fastest supercomputers. It was based on previous computer programming languages: ALGOL 58, BASIC, C, PL/I, PACT I, MUMPS, and Ratfor. As each new version evolved, it was given a higher number appended to the name. FORTRAN is written in all caps up until FORTRAN 77 but the name eventually became Fortran without being all caps, which happened officially with Fortran 90. Newer versions added extensions but usually provided for legacy use of older versions of the code.
In late 1953, John Backus submitted a proposal to IBM to develop and more practical alternative to assembly language for programming the IBM 704 mainframe, a room size behemoth of a computer. Backus put together a team of programmers: Richard Goldberg, Sheldon Best, Harlan Herrick, Peter Sheridan, Roy Nutt, Robert Nelson, Irving Ziller, Lois Haibt, and David Sayre. The team worked on a method which would include easier entry of equations into a computer, something that was still done using punch cards. The first draft specification for The IBM Mathematical Formal Translating System was completed in mid-1954. The first FORTRAN compiler was delivered in April 1957. Customers were reluctant to use the new language because they didn’t believe it would be better than hand-coded assembly language.
It was better. It reduced the number of programming statements necessary to operate a machine by a factor of 20. It quickly gained acceptance. Because the language was being used by many scientists, compiler writers were urged on to create compilers able to generate faster and more efficient coding. The initial release of FORTRAN contained 32 statements (computer orders). Programs were entered on a keypunch keyboard onto 80 column punched cards, one line per card. The cards were fed into a card reader to be compiled. These did not usually deal with special characters and so special cards were needed. After many new versions, the language began being called Fortran with the date of revision. The Fortran in use today is Fortran 2008 with the next revision due to come out in 2015.
Much of my work has come from being lazy. I didn’t like writing programs, and so, when I was working on the IBM 701, writing programs for computing missile trajectories, I started work on a programming system to make it easier to write programs.- John Backus in a 1979 interview
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the universe trying to build bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning. – Rick Cook
Don’t worry if it doesn’t work right. If everything did, you’d be out of a job. – Mosher’s Law of Software Engineering
FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed — it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. – Alan J. Perlis
The evolution of languages: FORTRAN is a non-typed language. C is a weakly typed language. Ada is a strongly typed language. C++ is a strongly hyped language. – Ron Sercely
Also on this day: Rostov Ripper – In 1992, Andrei Chikatilo, of Russia, was found guilty of 52 murders.
Going Postal – In 1888, a letter was received, purportedly from Jack the Ripper.
You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do – In 1951, I Love Lucy premiered.
Chance Chants – In 1764, Edward Gibbon was inspired to write his work on the fall of Rome.
October 14, 1908: Cubs win! The 1908 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs ended with the Cubs winning their fourth game. The Cubs were playing with player/manager Frank Chance in charge while the Tigers had Hughie Jennings as manager. The games were played at Bennett Park and West Side Park, neither of them still in existence. The Tigers moved to Navin Field in 1912 which changed its name to Briggs Stadium in 1938 and then to Tiger Stadium in 1961. It was owned by the team from 1912 to 1977 when the City of Detroit took it over. It was demolished in 2008-2009. The home of the Tigers has been Comerica Park since 2000.
West Side Park was home to the Cubs from 1885-1891 and 1894 to 1915. The park was demolished in 1920. The Cubs move to Wrigley Field in 1916 and remain there to this day. Although they have played on the same field since 1916, there were major renovations in 1937 and 1988 as well as expansions in 1922, 1927, and 2006. The original construction cost was $250,000 which is nearly $6 million in today’s dollars. Wrigley Field was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 1, 2004. It is the oldest National League ballpark and the second oldest active major league ballpark with Fenway Park being older.
The first game of the Series was played on October 10 in Detroit and the Cubs won it 10-6 in front of 10,812 fans. They teams traveled to Chicago for the next two games and split them. On October 11 17,760 people watched the Cubs win with a score of 6-1 but the next day, the Tigers came back with an 8-3 win as 14,543 people watched from the stands. Then they traveled back to Detroit and the Cubs shut them out with 3-0 score on October 13 with 12,907 in attendance and the final game needed for the series was another shutout with a 2-0 score for the winning team. The Detroit fans must have been quite dispirited as only 6,210 people were at the final game, the most poorly attended game in World Series history.
The Cubs took the title for the second year in a row. It is also the last time the Cubs won the World Series. They have made it to the final series on several occasions – 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945. They lost each time. Each team sported Hall of Famers on their roster. The Cubs had Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker of Evers to Tinker to Chance fame. The Tigers had Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb playing for them with Cobb having an even better season than he had the year before. It was not enough to get the Tigers the pennant – that year. The Tigers have gone on to four World Series titles: 1935, beating the Cubs, 1945, again beating the Cubs, 1968, and 1984.
You don’t just accidentally show up in the World Series. – Derek Jeter
A World Series trophy is a wonderful thing to behold. – Willie Stargell
The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is I can’t watch myself play. – Reggie Jackson
I really want to see the Cubs in the World Series. I really do. – Dennis Quaid
Also on this day: Pooh Corner – In 1926, A.A. Milne published his first Pooh story.
Bull Moose – In 1912, presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt was shot.
Ready! Camera! Action! – In 1888, the oldest surviving movie was filmed.
Buzz - In 1912, Claude Grahame-White flew.
October 13, 1793: The cornerstone for the Executive Mansion is laid. US President George Washington lived at two different executive mansions in New York City. In May 1790, a new Government House was begun for the President to live in, but it was never completed. Instead, the national capital moved to Philadelphia in December 1790. In July 1790, the Residence Act named that city as the temporary capital and gave a time frame of ten years while the new Federal City was under construction. Washington, Madison, and Adams all lived at a house on Market Street even though a much nicer or grander place was built – in an effort to make Philadelphia the nation’s permanent seat of power. The unused presidential mansion became home of the University of Pennsylvania.
Pierre Charles L’Enfant was busy designing the new nation’s new capital city. A design competition was held and nine proposals were submitted for the Executive Mansion. It was originally referred to as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion, or President’s House and the earliest use of the term White House was in 1811. Officially known as the Executive Mansion until 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt first used the name White House – Washington on his engraved stationery. Irish architect James Hoban’s design was chosen for the new building, but not quite as submitted. His three-story, nine bay design was altered to two stories and eleven bays for construction.
On this day, without fanfare or ceremony, the cornerstone was laid. The initial construction work took eight years and most of the workers were enslaved and free African-Americans and immigrants. The cost of constructions was $232,371.83 which is about $3.2 million today. It was not quite complete but could be lived in and so Adams moved there in November 1800. L’Enfant had envisioned a palace five times larger than the original building but the sandstone building was what the new country could afford. The Mansion has not always looked like the current building. In 1814, the building was set ablaze by the British during the War of 1812. The interior was gutted and the exterior wall were weakened. Reconstruction took place between 1815 and 1817. The south portico was aded in 1824 and the north portico was added in 1830.
The Mansion was getting too small. Interior renovations helped, but more room was needed. The West Wing was added first and then the National or East Wing was added. Theodore Roosevelt carried out more expansions and renovations. The Oval Office was built during William Howard Taft’s term in office but Franklin Roosevelt moved it during his time there. By 1948, the house was in danger of collapse and major reconstruction efforts were needed to save the building. During the Kennedy administration, extensive historic redecoration of the house was done. Today, each new family in the White House carries out some modifications to the family’s residential quarters, but anything done to the basic structure of the White House itself is carefully overseen to ensure historic authenticity.
I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this House, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof. – John Adams, on taking up residency
On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. – H. L. Mencken
Sometimes I wake at night in the White House and rub my eyes and wonder if it is not all a dream. – Grover Cleveland
Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I’m the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House. – John F. Kennedy
Also on this day: Service – In 1843, B’nai B’rith was founded.
Miracle of the Sun – In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to thousands.
Yellow Jackets – In 1885, Georgia Tech was founded.
Whirlpool - In 1773, Charles Messier discovered a new galaxy.
October 12, 1918: The Cloquet Fire sweeps Carlton County in northern Minnesota. The region hit the hardest was Cloquet, about 20 miles southwest of Duluth, hence the name given to the fire. Also heavily affected were Moose Lake and Kettle River. Carlton County was best known for its logging industry at this time. The railroads had come through in the 1870s and greatly increased the viability of the logging ventures. In 1874, a huge lumber mill was built along the shore of Lake Superior. The logged trees were floated downriver to the mill where they could be sawed for retail. As the trees were cut, the area became usable as farm land and government grants made it possible for new people to come to the region to farm.
As the farming industry grew, so did ancillary industries and soon there were more services of all types available and an influx of people to fill these new positions as well. The dry, harvested land was a fire hazard. On October 10, 1918 two men working near a railroad siding saw a passenger train move through and soon after discovered fires burning through the grass and piles of wood. The fires were smaller, but still not able to be contained and were spreading. On this day, the small localized fires were whipped into an inferno. By 6 PM, forest rangers issued a warning – if the wind did not die down, it would be necessary for the good people of Cloquet to flee. A gust of wind kicked up and set the whole town ablaze.
People tried to board the train which pulled away from the station barely in front of the advancing flames. The windows in the train exploded due to the heat of the fire. Early reports stated the fires were intentionally set. Cloquet Fire Chief FJ Longren denied this and blamed the fire on sparks from a passing train which lit dry timber. The fire was worsened by drought conditions, high winds, and a lack of firefighting equipment. In all, 453 people died in the blaze. Another 52,000 people were injured or displaced and 38 communities were destroyed with 250,000 acres of land burned and $73 million in property damage. Federal aid to the region was $13 million.
Instances of mass deaths were reported with one reporter telling of 75 bodies trapped in a burned building while another 30 bodies were found in a heap in a cellar. Although these were horrific, it could have been much worse. Due to the efforts of both the National Guard and local citizens, two structures were saved. One was the St. James Catholic Orphanage and the other was the Nopeming Sanatorium. The latter was home to nearly 200 TB patients. A line of cars broke through the flames in order to save these people. The fire was brought under come semblance of control by October 13 and the slow process of rebuilding began nearly immediately.
If there’s a fire, I want to be there. Maybe because in being so close to death, I think I understand what it means to be truly alive. – Caroline Paul
It is a revolution, and it can no more be checked by human effort… than a prarie fire by a gardener’s watering pot. – Judah Philip Benjamin
In open range fires it is about picking a spot and hoping it is the right location. At the head of the fire you have to worry about wind and humidity and a number of other factors. – John Glover
To give reason for fancy were to weigh the fire, and measure the wind. – John Lyly
Also on this day: Not Enough Sense to Get Out of the Rain – In 1923, Mackintosh raincoats went on sale.
Festive October – In 1810, Ludwig I married Therese – and began the tradition of Oktoberfest.
6,000,000,000 – In 1999, there were six billion people on the planet.
Chris Landed – In 1492, Columbus landed in the New World.
October 11, 1614: Adriaen Block puts forth a petition. Adriaen or Aerjan Block was a Dutch private trader and navigator. He is best known for exploring the coast of what is now North America between New Jersey and Massachusetts. He was born around 1567 and although he spent most of his life at sea, he considered Amsterdam his home. He married in 1603 and he and his wife moved into a house called De Twee Bontecraijen (The Two Hooded Crows) on Oude Waal in 1606 where they would live the rest of their lives and raise their five children.
By the 1590s, Block was already active in shipping and transporting, mostly commodities such as wood from Northern Europe to the deforested Spanish regions. In 1601, he was part of a convoy of ships which left Amsterdam for the Dutch East Indies. He returned home in 1603, got married, and took off again in 1604, this time to the Mediterranean Sea. He was less successful with his trading and was lucky enough, instead, to capture a ship returning from Brazil and Block brought the goods and ship to Amsterdam. Most of the items, including the ship, were returned, but Block made quite a bit of money on the deal, probably enough to buy to his house.
After Henry Hudson made contact with the natives in the New World, the Dutch opted to go exploring, looking for beaver pelts. This was a lucrative market in Europe at the time and did much to help Europeans explore in the distant area. Block left for the region and was successful in returning with a ship full of the furs. Because of the success, the States General issued a guarantee of an exclusive patent to goods for four voyages to anyone able to locate new countries, harbors, or passages in the new territories – as long as a detailed account could be submitted within 14 days of the return. Block returned to explore some more. While there he set up a couple colonies in Connecticut. Life was difficult but he made it back to the Netherlands.
On this day, block and fellow captain Christiaensen, along with twelve other merchants petitioned the States General for exclusive trading rights for their newly formed New Netherland Company. Upon his return, Block submitted a map with an entirely novel name – New Netherland for area between English Virginia and French Canada. He was also the first to draw what is today called Long Island as an island. His company was granted rights for three years to trade between the 40th parallel north and the 45th parallel north. He never returned to the New World again but did continue to sail until his death in 1627.
Every seaman is not only a navigator, but a merchant and also a soldier. – William Petty
For the merchant, even honesty is a financial speculation. – Charles Baudelaire
I consider a merchant someone who has a certain intuition and instinct, and – very important – knows how to run a business, knows the numbers. – Millard Drexler
To let her sail would be the greatest profit both for the company and for the merchants. – Peter Stuyvesant
Also on this day: Raising the Mary Rose – In 1982, the Mary Rose, a sixteenth century warship, was raised from the sea.
Free, But … – In 1865, Paul Bogle led a revolt in Jamaica.
Shop Til You Drop – In 1929, J.C. Penney opened store #1252.
Land Dispute – In 1767, the Mason-Dixon survey was completed.