google-site-verification: googlee20fcd946adc59a7.html Out of the Past: 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

1843: First Christmas Card

The first commercially produced Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by English artist and designer Sir Henry Cole, according to historian Nicholas A. Basbanes in On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History.

A copy of the card was included in the 850 pounds of rare paper ephemera gathered by collector John Grossman and sold to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware earlier this year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

1883: A President in Yellowstone

For three weeks in August of 1883 the first sitting president to visit Yellowstone National Park, Chester Arthur, made an ambitious 330-mile overland trip from Green River, Wyoming, north to Mammoth Hot Springs with a 75-man military escort led by General Philip Sheridan.

It was the longest and most unusual vacation ever taken by a sitting President. The traveling party included Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving son of Abraham Lincoln, who commemorate the trip with a leather-bound album of photographs taken on the journey by a young photographer, F. Jay Haynes, along with the dispatches describing the President’s activities which were sent to the Associated Press.

This volume reprints much of that album, of which only six copies were ever made, and publishes more of Haynes’ 130-year-old photographs of Yellowstone National Park and the President’s party.

A President in Yellowstone
1872: Yellowstone National Park Established
History and American West Titles

Friday, October 4, 2013

1923: Babe Ruth's Missing Home Runs

In 1923, the year Yankee Stadium opened in the Bronx, Babe Ruth hit 47 home runs -- enough to win the major league home-run title that season -- but six of them were ruled foul balls under Major League Rule 48 which said that balls that cleared the fence in fair territory but landed foul were to be ruled foul. Additionally, balls that hit the foul pole, home runs by today's rule, were considered ground rule doubles.

The rule was changed to its current form in 1930, according to Robert Weintraub in "The House That Ruth Built," but not before costing Ruth at least six home runs and the outright home-run title in 1923 (officially shared with Philadelphia's Cy Williams).

The House That Ruth Built
Babe Ruth
The Roster

Monday, July 15, 2013

1807: John Colter Explores Hell.

Colter's Hell is a mostly inactive geyser district located just west of Cody, Wyoming, at the mouth of the Stinkingwater River Canyon

While geyser activity has been minimal in recent times, there are accounts of geothermal activity similar to that inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park in the not too distant past.

John Colter, an intrepid member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, gave the first accounts of the area to non-native Americans following his solo journey of 1807-1808. But Colter's descriptions of gloomy terrors, hidden fires, smoking pits, noxious streams and the all-pervading smell of brimstone were too wild for his listeners to believe. They derisively dubbed the imaginary place "Colter's Hell."

History and American West Titles
Artwork: Colter Stone

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1844: Attack with Force, or Die!

April 24, 1844. Mojave River, California.

Two Mexicans, Andreas Fuentes and an eleven-year-old boy named Pablo Hernandez, rode into camp with an appalling tale... They had been traveling east with a large caravan from Los Angeles. Since the caravan was slow, the small group of family and friends had gone ahead to Archilette Spring where they planned to rest and wait for the caravan.

After they settled in at the spring, Indian warriors attacked them and drove off their horses. Fuentes and Pablo had escaped. Fuentes asked (Brevet Capt. John C.) Fremont to help find his horses and, presuamably, to learn the fate of the other members of the small party. Fremont gave permission to any of his men who wanted to go. Onl;y (Kit) Carsoin and Alexis Godey volunteered.

Carson recalled years later: "Godey and myself volunteered with the expectation that some men of our party would join us. They did not."

After twenty miles of hard riding, they came upon the thieves who had butchered some of the horses and were feasting on the meat. Carson and Godey waited for nightfall to sneak off with the remaining horses.

"The Indians noticed the commotion among the animals and sprang for their arms," Carson recalled.

Now arose the imperative that border men who long survive learned early: If outnumbered by an enemy, hesitate not. Attack with force, or die!

"We now considered it time to charge... They were about thirty in number. We charged. I fired, killed one. Godey fired, missed, but reloaded and fired, killing another... The remainder run."

Carson and Godey gathered the remaining horses and returned to Fremont, who wrote glowingly about the event in his "Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-'44" that he delivered to Congress, saying civilization had triumphed over savagery.

The Life of an American Border Man 
by David A. Remley
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012
Artwork: Kit Carson Fighting an Indiana
Book List
History and American West Titles
Out of the Past

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What Happened to The Space Race?

Remember the great Space Race between the USA and the USSR?

It started with the Soviet Union's launch of the Sputnik, the first satellite in space, on October 4, 1957. The perception that its Cold War nemesis was gaining a technological upper hand, shocked the United States government into action and inspired the NASA space program and President John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 promise to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth within the decade.

For most of a decade, the USSR seemed to be leading the race. The Soviets had the first artificial satellite, the first Moon probe, the first man in space, and the first spacewalk.

"The Soviet Union was engaged in a secret but all-out attempt to beat America to the Moon," writes Claude A. Piantadosi in his history of human space exploration, Mankind Beyond Earth.

Yet, well before the finish line in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon, the Soviets were out of the race. Why did their space program pull up lame after such a strong start?

Piantadosi succinctly attributes it to the unexpected death of its leading rocketeer, Ukrainiand aeronautical engineer Sergei Korolyov, who died of a heart attack during colon cancer surgery at the age of 59.

"When the United States announced its plan to land men on the Moon, the USSR had diverted its N1 rocket project to a lunar program in an effort to beat the Americans again," he explains. "Korolyov's untimely death dealt the Soviets' N1 a death blow, and it never flew... Had he lived, the Moon race certainly would have been closer."

Mankind Beyond Earth
Out of the Past: History Lessons
History and American West Titles
Artwork: Russian Rocket

Thursday, March 7, 2013

1864: The Long Walk ~ Aftereffect

A new independent documentary film titled "Sun Kissed" appearing in film festivals links a rare and horrific disease known as XP with The Long Walk of 1864 in which the U.S. Army forced marched the Navajo tribe from its homeland to stockades at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.

XP causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight and occurs primarily in children. It leads to the early onset of skin cancer and even blindness. Children who contract the disease experience fatal neurological degeneration and rarely live past 20 years of age. They are unable to care for themselves even minimally.

In the general population, XP is a one is a million disorder. On the Navajo Reservation it is appearing in one in every 30,000 Navajo children.

The documentary links the affliction to the The Long Walk of 1864, which reduced the Navajo population from an estimated 25,000 to about 5,000 before they were allowed to return to their homeland. Some geneticists contend that the numerical reduction of the Navajo people coupled with genetic isolation fostered susceptibility to increased genetic disorders, such as XP.

The Long Walk ... 1864
Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man 
History and American West Titles
Artwork: Long Walk of the Navajos by Olaf Wieghorst

Thursday, January 31, 2013

1948: Disappearance of the Star Tiger

On the day in 1948 that airplane inventor Orville Wright passed away and Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, "one of the greatest peacetime air-sea searches ever conducted was being carried out in the Atlantic northeast of Bermuda," reports John Wallance Spencer in Limbo of the Lost: Actual Stories of Sea Mysteries.

"A desperate attempt was underway to find 25 passengers and 6 crewmen reported missing along with their British South American Airways, 4-engine, Avro, Tudor IV, luxury airliner, Star Tiger.

"The 32-passenger plane, on a flight from London to Havana, was on its third stage from Santa Maria in the Azores to Hamilton, Bermuda, a distance of 1,960 miles."

At 03:04 Radio Officer Robert Tuck aboard the Star Tiger requested a radio bearing from the Bermuda airport, but the signal was not strong enough to obtain an accurate reading. Tuck  repeated the request eleven minutes later, and this time the Bermuda radio operator was able to obtain a bearing of 72 degrees, accurate to within 2 degrees. The Bermuda  operator transmitted this information, and Tuck acknowledged receipt at 03:17.

That was the last communication with the aircraft. The Bermuda operator tried to contact Star Tiger at 03:50 and receiving no reply, thought that it had gone over to direct radio contact with Bermuda Approach Control. However, Approach Control reported that this was not the case. The Bermuda radio operator tried at 04:05 to contact Star Tiger, again without success, and after trying again at 04:40 he declared a state of emergency.

Continued in ... 1948

Limbo of the Lost: Actual Stories of Sea Mysteries by John Wallace Spencer
Outrider Books
Artwork: British South American Airways