Paul Smith Missive




From Paul J. Smith's Missive Volume Two



July 1st.

Paul Writes -
On this day in 1863, the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere began outside the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. That the North and South met there might have been an accident as Confederate scouts had come to the area to hunt for a rumored stockpile of shoes. The South was short of just about everything needed to supply its army.

But the fact that there was a battle was no accident. Most of the Civil War battles had taken place on Southern soil and then (as now) war is hard on the occupants of the territory where the fight occurs. And in the North there was a growing chorus of people who were tired of the war, of the mind that if the quarrelsome southerners wanted to go their own way, let them.

Southern leaders thought that a series of Southern victories on Northern soil would add to the clamor. Thus, Robert E. Lee and 75K soldiers were marching through Pennsylvania. 90K soldiers in blue under their newly appointed commander, George Meade, were marching to meet them.

Gettysburg July 1863



July 2nd.

Paul Writes -
This is the anniversary of the 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan (there is some confusion about the date). Theories abound as to Earhart and Noonan’s fate: they landed on a Japanese-held island and were shot as spies; their maps were wrong and when they arrived at where an island should be, it wasn't and they ran out of fuel over the sea; or, they crashed on a deserted island and died of thirst. We may never know.

A contemporary report is here. Earhart has many Hoosier connections. She served as a "referee" for the 1935 Indy 500, the first female to do so. She was on the staff at Purdue University, an appointment she held at the time of her disappearance. The plane that she was flying when she disappeared had been purchased with funds from the Purdue Research Foundation.

Amelia Earhart



July 3rd.

Paul Writes -
These days you can legally gamble at a casino between the beautifully renovated French Lick Hotel and superbly restored West Baden Hotel in Southern Indiana’s Orange County. In a sense, the casino is a return to the area’s roots. Early in the 20th century people came from all over to gamble there, though the proprietor of the French Lick Hotel, Indianapolis mayor and Democratic National Committee chairman Thomas Taggart insisted such a thing did not occur.

Well, it did. On this day in 1903 Republican Governor J. Frank Hanly sent the state police to raid the place. They confiscated gambling equipment and the state later unsuccessfully sued the hotels owners. In part, a little politics may have been involved (you’re shocked, I’m sure). The governor thundered against vices, in particular drinking, but had suffered several scandals in his administration, including the state auditor using state funds to pay gambling debts at the casino.

French Lick Casino



July 6th.

Danile Louis Armstrong, musician without peer in the minds of his many fans, passed away on this date in 1971 at the age of 69. The first time he ever set foot in a recording studio was in April of 1923 when he recorded at Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana, with King Oliver’s Jazz Creole Band.

There is a park in New Orleans that bears his name and contains a statue to him. We couldn’t tour it because it was closed the day we walked by and so we had to peer through the fence. New Orleans is a beautiful city but there is something a bit odd about a city government that closes its cemeteries and a park in the middle of the day.

Louis Armstrong



Sunday July 11th.

Paul Writes -
My home state of Kentucky is justifiably known as the breeding ground of the greatest thoroughbred race horses in the world. [Long before Kentucky became a state, at perhaps the first democratic assemblage in Kentucky, Daniel Boone proposed that the settlers be encouraged to breed horses.] But champion horses don't come only from Kentucky.

The Hoosier state was the home of the greatest pacer, or standardbred, in history, a horse named Dan Patch. He died on this day in 1916 at the age of twenty years (how old is that in human years). He set countless records, one for the mile stood for 32 years, and by the end of his career wasn't racing other horses, just the clock. Strangely, his last owner and tireless promoter, Marion Savage, had Dan Patch buried in a location on his farm that is unknown to this day, and then within a day and one-half of his horse’s death, died himself.

Dan Patch



July 15th.

Paul Writes -

General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing died at age 87 years on this day in 1948. He was an Indian fighter and led a punitive expedition into Mexico early in the last century chasing the bandit Pancho Villa. He commanded the American forces in Europe in WWI. The highest ranking Soldier in US History and has a simple grave at Arlington.

General Pershing



July 16th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1945, in the desert near Los Alamos, New Mexico, man first brought the power of the sun to the earth in the test of a bomb. In spite of some doubts, the "gadget," as it was known, worked. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the program, quoted an ancient Sanskrit text, "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds." It is hard to believe, but at one time atomic bombs were tested so close to Las Vegas that gamblers could stand outside and see the mushroom cloud.

Bomb Fastened To Tower - July 13, 1945



July 21st.

Paul Writes -
Hoosier astronaut (born in Mitchell, Indiana, and a Purdue graduate) Virgil I “Gus” Grissom became the second American in space on this day in 1961.

Grissom died in 1967 in a launch pad fire. If you visit picturesque Spring Mill State Park in southern Indiana you can visit a free museum dedicated to Grissom that contains a space capsule and his spacesuit.

Gus Grissom & Liberty Bell 7



July 23rd.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday (1961) to actor (“Cheers”) Woody Harrelson. He’s a Texan but graduated from pretty Hanover College in Southern Indiana in 1983.

Woody's Autograph From Hanover



July 29th.

Paul Writes -
I came across one of those weird coincidences that I just have to mention. The last (11th) row of the 1951 Indianapolis 500 consisted of three drivers, Walt Brown, Cecil Green, Bill Mackey. All three were killed on this day in 1951 in separate accidents. Brown was at a track in Pennsylvania driving a car that had won the 1941 Indy 500. He was involved in an accident in the second turn of the Pennsylvania track and expired shortly after arrival at the hospital. Green, meanwhile, went over the embankment between the first and second turns at the Winchester Speedway in Indiana while trying to qualify for a race. He died on the way to the hospital. Qualifying stopped while they awaited the return of the ambulance transporting Green. No sooner did it return than Mackey flew off the track at the same spot as had Green. He too died.

Winchester, Indiana Speedway

Back To The Future:

Reading Paul's item on the death of three race drivers, MCR found the following photograph in our files, taken at Salem Speedway in 1947, showing Bill Mackey ready to race on the famed banked oval.

Bill Mackey



August 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Today is the anniversary of the 1876 murder of Wild Bill Hickok. One time Indian-fighter with General Custer and former sheriff of Abilene, Kansas, he was shot from behind while playing poker. [The hand he is said to have had is still known as the "deadman's hand." His killer, Jack McCall, likely was trying to establish his reputation as a gunslinger, though not usually done by coming up behind your opponent and shooting him in the head.

McCall was tried by a miner's court (a more or less ad hoc gathering of the local citizen's) and talked his way out of the situation. Later he was retried, convicted, and hanged on March 1, 1877.

Wild Bill Hickock's Last Card Game



August 4th.

Paul Writes -
This was the day in 1892 that Lizzie Borden gave her mother and father forty whacks (with an axe) in Fall River, Massachusetts. Actually, I should say she was alleged to have killed her mom and dad because she was acquitted. Most historians think she did it. I think I mentioned before that the house of whacks is a bed & breakfast.

Lizzie Borden



August 7th.

Paul Writes -
Henry D. Haynes passed away at the age of 51 on this day in 1971. He was the "Homer" half of the country comedy team of "Homer and Jethro." [Jethro died in 1989.] Haynes is buried in Schererville, Indiana (and has a military headstone).

Homer & Jethro

Also On August 7th.

Paul Writes -
On this morning in 1942, US Navy ships bombarded the Japanese held island of Guadalcanal, followed by a landing of the 1st Marine Division. It was an incredibly hard fought campaign that took some seven months of fighting before the island was secure.

Guadalcanal



August 8th.

Paul Writes -
I hope that none of you have ever encountered the machine, or one of its descendants, developed in 1931 by the 93-year-old IU toxicologist and biochemist who died in Indianapolis on this day in 1983. He was Rolla N. Harger and he developed the Drunkometer for determining the blood alcohol content of an inebriated (allegedly) person. He patented the device in 1936 and gave the patent to the IU Foundation because he did not think it to be particularly valuable. In that he was in error.

Dr. Harger Explains Drunkometer To State Police

BTW, the device had limitations and required some expertise in its operation, less so for its modern descendant, the Breathalyzer, that is also the invention (1954) of an IU professor and former head of the Indiana State Police lab, Robert F. Borkenstein....who died August 10, 2002, at Bloomington, Indiana.

Professor Borkenstein Working On Breathalyzer



August 11th.

Paul Writes -
You may not recognize the name of the minister who passed away from TB in London at the age of 38 on this day in 1778, Augustus Montague Toplady.

You will recognize the name of the song that he wrote: "Rock of Ages."

Augustus M. Toplady



August 13th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1964, Ian L. Fleming died at the age of 56. He created perhaps the most famous spy in history, certainly the hero of one of the most successful movies series of all time, James Bond.

Fleming was a member of British Intelligence during WWII and got his inspiration for many of his stories from a real-life spy, William Stephenson (code name: Intrepid).

Ian Fleming & His 007 Star Sean Connery



August 14th.

Paul Writes -
I've spent the night with many of you surrounded by nylon. Of course I mean in a tent in the woods. One of trails I have set foot on was completed this day in 1921. [OK, I’ve only set foot for a few feet where it crosses Clingman’s Dome in the Smokies, in Harpers Ferry, and again along Skyline Drive further north.] The 2.1K+ mile Appalachian Trail is perhaps the big cahuna of trails, not the longest but certainly the most well known, stretching from Maine to Georgia.


It was the brainchild of a man named Benton MacKaye whose job at the US Department of Labor was to think up ways to improve worker morale. He envisioned a wooded Mecca, an Appalachian Trail where overworked urbanites could traipse through the woods invigorated by outdoor labors.

Trail Hikers Cross Fontana Dam



August 15th.

Paul Writes -
You may have heard of a famous frontiersman named Boone. He came up the Wilderness Road, helped build Boonesborough in Kentucky, and later defended the fort against Indian attacks. Indeed he was one of the most celebrated Indian fighters of his time, suffering grievous injury several times and carrying multiple scars throughout his life. But this Boone was a Hoosier, the much less celebrated ten-year-younger brother of the famous Daniel. Squire Boone died in Corydon, Indiana, on or about this day in 1815 at age 70 and was buried on his land in Harrison County, Indiana; perhaps in a cave that is on the property known as Squire Boone Caverns. He had lived on his Hoosier farm for about eleven years, the longest he stayed put anywhere during a life filled with wanderlust. Squire Boone really was a remarkable man who should be celebrated in both Kentucky and Indiana, a skilled gunsmith who made Daniel Boone’s famous long rifle.

1852 Painting Squire Boone



August 19th.

Paul Writes -
It used to be that May was racing month here in Indy. That changed somewhat when stock cars took to the track in August. Actually, August has a history of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that long predates stock cars. The first ground race there (I say “ground” because a balloon race predated even this race) was actually a motorcycle race a few days earlier (August 15), but this day in 1909 was the first auto race, five miles.

It was won in a blistering pace of 57.4 mph by Louis “Louie” Schwitzer, an immigrant from what is now Poland whose life included such things as killing a Russian soldier with a saber during army service and helping to form the Indianapolis Symphony. The company he founded prospered making cooling fans for vehicles. These days he’s right across the street from James Whitcomb Riley high atop Crown Hill in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Louis Schwitzer



August 25th.

Paul Writes -
After four years of Nazi occupation, allied forces led by Free French troops under French General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc and the American 4th Infantry Division liberated Paris on this day in 1944. [The point man for the US forces was Sergeant Milt Shelton who was less than thrilled about the honor as he had performed the same role for his unit on the beaches of Normandy and felt his luck might not hold. Things turned out well, though, as his jeep was thronged by jubilant Parisians.] Hitler had demanded that the city be defended at all cost, including its destruction (leading to a book and movie titled on the basis of Hitler's query, "Is Paris Burning?") but German General Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered the city intact.

Hitler & The Eifel Tower



August 28th.

Paul Writes -
One of the best "living history" museums in the US is Conner Prairie in the northeastern suburbs of Indianapolis. Near the village where it is always 1836 (they have added an 1886 town as well) you can tour the home of one of Indiana's first and most important citizens, William Conner, who passed on this date in 1855 at age 78 or so. [If you visit the home, you are following in the footsteps of other famous persons who have stayed there: John Jacob Astor, James Fenimore Cooper, and Washington Irving.] Conner was born in Ohio but became a fur trader with his brother John (1775-1826) in Michigan. Both came to Indiana in 1800 and traded with the Delaware Indians in the vicinity of Noblesville (the northern suburbs of Indy).

Like others he headed into the “wilderness” well ahead of the advancing white culture and became a bridge between whites and Indians through trading and serving as an interpreter.

By the end of his life, about half of which had spent among Indians and half among whites, he was a kind of elder statesman, a bridge to the past between most of the population who may have never seen a “wild Indian” and the roots of the community. You really should visit Conner Prairie and tour his house some time if you have not done so recently.

Conner Home



September 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Future president George Bush jumped from his burning torpedo bomber into the Pacific Ocean on this day in 1944. He did it again in 1997, minus the burning plane part, at the age of 72, and yet again and again.

George Bush WWII



Septermber 4th.

Paul Writes -
One of the towns terrorized by General Morgan in his foray across southern Indiana was Corydon, the first capital of Indiana.

If you visit the city (several nice shops around the square) you can visit some buildings from the period of Indiana’s statehood, including the first state capital building. If you do, you are visiting a building built by a Kentuckian (well, a Virginian, to be more precise, who came to Kentucky on horse-back with Henry Clay in 1799), Dennis Pennington.

Mr. Pennington held several political offices before and after statehood, dying in Harrison County, Indiana, at the age of 78 on this date in 1854.

"Old" State Capitol - Corydon



September 6th.

While I am at it I will mention that this is also the anniversary of the 1933 robbery by Dillinger and his gang of the Massachusetts Avenue State Bank here in Indianapolis. They got away with $24K that was never recovered.

Dillinger's First Bank Job



September 10th.

Paul Writes -
In 1912 most rural roads were un-graded dirt paths, often impassable in bad weather. Roads linked local points, with few roads specifically constructed to connect major cities. In this automobile-unfriendly environment, Hoosier pioneer auto parts manufacturer and automobile dealer, and one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Carl Fisher hosted a dinner meeting at Deutsches Haus (now called The Athenaeum) in Indianapolis this day in that year and proposed a transcontinental "Coast To Coast Highway."

In this vision for an improved gravel thoroughfare, Fisher was joined by Frank Seiberling, president of Goodyear, and Henry Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Company. Henry Joy suggested naming the proposed road for Abraham Lincoln and on July 1, 1913, after receiving pledges of support from prominent businessmen and politicians, the group officially formed the Lincoln Highway Association, headquartered in Detroit, to promote the Lincoln Highway.

The Lincoln Highway was built (crossing Indiana to the north through Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Valparaiso) and inspired the construction of other named highways.

Paul On The Lincoln Highway In Pennsylvania

Lincoln Highway 3,389 Miles Coast To Coast



September 13th.

Paul Writes -
On this day in 1836, marked by a celebration at Brookville, Indiana, that was led by three Indiana governors, James Brown Ray (past), Noah Noble (present), and David Wallace (future), work commenced on the Whitewater Canal. Nearly 1K men labored on the canal and it was, of course, over budget by June of 1828 when boats were running on the canal to Brookville.

The state essentially went bankrupt about that time (due to expenditures building canals and roads) and work ceased. Other entities took up the work and ultimately the canal reached Hagerstown but some portions were short-lived, washing away in floods, for example. Today, essentially all that is left of the canal in terms of water transportation is a boat ride in Metamora, Indiana.

Canal Boat Metamora, Indiana



September 15th.

Paul Writes -
The swastika became the official symbol of the Nazi party this day in 1935. [I've also seen September 5, 1935.] It is also the anniversary of the passage of many anti-Semitic laws on that date as well. The swastika (or its variants) isn't a symbol exclusively used by the Nazi party.

A variant had been used in traditional Navajo weavings to symbolize the sun, although its use dramatically declined after the 1940s as you might imagine. Today, though, the symbol is synonymous with evil.

Nazi Swastika



September 17th.

Paul Writes -
The bloodiest single day of the Civil War, or our history in general (depending on how many died in the Galveston hurricane; see September 8), occurred on this day in 1862 at the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). About 6K Americans died and some 18K were wounded — four times more than at D-day in Normandy in 1944 and twice as many than if you combined the War of 1812, Spanish-American War, and the Mexican War.

I saw on a History Channel documentary that, if the deaths were averaged out, at Antietam a soldier was killed every two seconds for eight hours.

The battle is notable not just for the carnage but its aftereffects. Tactically the battle itself was a draw, but Lee withdrew back to Virginia so it is viewed as a Union victory.

Burnside Bridge

Antietam



September 23rd.

Paul Writes -
The movie helped make him a star, so it is natural that actor Charlton Heston might be curious about the man who brought the world “Ben-Hur.” Heston had been in Indianapolis and dropped by Lew Wallace’s study in Crawfordsville on this day in 1993. It’s difficult for us to appreciate just how popular “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” Wallace’s second novel, was in its day. Heston’s vehicle is the one with which most of us identify, but the book inspired stage productions (sometimes using a clever treadmill and scrolling diorama that permitted real horses pulling real chariots to “race” across the stage) that may have been seen in person by 10M (yes, million) theatergoers here and overseas in the first two decades of the 20th century. There were periods when only the Bible outsold the novel. It was made into one of the earliest silent films (1925). It’s still in print.

Charlton Heston As "Ben-Hur"



September 25th.

Paul Writes -
Crown Hill Cemetery was incorporated on this day in 1863. The pretty Indianapolis cemetery, final resting place of perhaps 195K persons, including a president, three vice-presidents (more than any other cemetery, fitting perhaps as only New York has produced more VPs than Indiana), a dozen or so governors (including a Kentucky governor), and countless senators, congressmen, war heroes, racing greats, pioneers, an odd outlaw or two (John Dillinger), mayors, artists, rich folk, poor folk, and every one in between, is the nation’s third largest non-governmental cemetery.

Dillinger's Grave Marker In Crown Hill



September 29th.

Paul Writes -
Sir Robert Peel pushed for their creation and so the police force that came into being on today's date in 1829 has since been known as "Bobbies."

Their first headquarters was at Scotland Yard (the origins of the name are somewhat obscure) and so that became the name of their headquarters. Now, New Scotland Yard, or the Greater London Metropolitan Police Service, has its own website.

London Bobbies



October 2nd.

Paul Writes-
He signed the Declaration of Independence and became governor of Massachusetts, but you are more likely to know the name of a beer named for him, Samuel Adams. He died on this day in 1803 at age 81.

Adams was a fiery rabble-rouser whose calls to action were instrumental in the Revolution, but was sometimes viewed as a bit extreme even by his fellow Founding Fathers. There seems to be some debate as to whether he was actually one of the fellows who (feebly) disguised themselves as Indians to conduct the Boston Tea Party, but he clearly was one of its instigators.

He rests in a Boston cemetery along with two other signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere, Crispus Attucks (a black man sometimes said to be the first victim of the Revolutionary War), and with the writer of Mother Goose.

Samuel Adams



October 9th.

Paul Writes -
On this raw and windy day in 1821, lots went on sale in a tiny cleared spot in the Hoosier forest along the east branch of the west fork of the White River, a spot that is now downtown Indianapolis.

The town already had its name and designation as the capital of a fairly new state. Its boosters claimed that it was on a high, dry plain, a bit of hyperbole as the area still had marshes and malaria was a problem for decades; indeed, the little settlement didn’t have an auspicious first year as some 72 people died of what they called the “ague,” but we call malaria.

The auction of the lots was held in front of the Nowland cabin on present-day West Washington Street west of Missouri Street. [I would assume somewhere around the present-day state office building or Eiteljorg Museum.] The sale continued for a week with an average price for lots of about $113, some going for as little as $10 or $20.

Debbie At Eiteljorg



October 14th.

Paul Writes -
Coach John Wooden was born this day in 1910 in Martinsville, Indiana. Wooden was a standout high school player and then Purdue University star. He coached and taught at a number of places before going to UCLA where he set just about every record for winning and coaching. He died June 4, 2010.

Coach John Wooden



October 18th.

Paul Writes -
If you live, or have lived, in Indianapolis you probably have attended a concert or play or some kind of performance at Clowes Memorial Hall on the campus of Butler University.

Even some of you folks from Louisville have come here for a performance. I’ve attended plays, opera, symphony concerts, lectures, stand up comedy, and just about everything else there.

Its grand opening was this day in 1963.

Clowes Hall



October 23rd.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to the world, at precisely 0900 on this day in 4004, B.C., or so said Cambridge preacher John Lightfoot. According to him, mankind came along on the afternoon of the 28th.

Cambridge Preacher John Lightfoot



October 30th.

Paul Writes -
No reputable historian disputes that FDR pushed the line before the US actually entered WWII. On this date in 1941, somewhat over a month before the US formally entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US destroyer Reuben James dropped depth charges on a German sub that was harassing a convoy to Britain.

The Reuben James was sunk by the submarine and 100-115 sailors were lost in the undeclared war. She was not the first to be torpedoed in pre-war action, but she was the first to sink. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about her.

USS Reuben James



November 1st.

Paul Writes -
In 1952 on this date, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb. The explosion took place at Eniwetok (or Enewetak) Atoll in the Pacific. I am not sure whether you classify this as a world-changing event. The already existing atomic bombs contained the power for unimaginable destruction. Arguably, all this did is enhance our ability to kill ourselves.

H-Bomb



November 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Wherever she went, the purity of the singing voice of the “Swedish Nightingale” who died on this day in 1887 at age 66 caused a sensation. Jenny Lind (born Johanna Maria Lind) was her name and people remembered her performances for decades.

She toured the US, including an 1851 stop at Madison, Indiana, (the smallest city on her tour) where she performed in a pork factory for what was then the pretty hefty sum of $5.00 per person.

Jenny Lind Sings At Madison



November 5th.

Paul Writes -
Indiana-born (in Elwood) and IU graduate Wendell L. Willkie was beaten by FDR in his bid for the presidency on this day in 1940.

Willkie lost by about 5M votes but garnered about 22M votes, the most for any loser up to that time. We both graduated from IU twice and are lawyers, so maybe I should run for president (be afraid, be very afraid).

Elwood is still proud of him, though he spends his days these days in Rushville, Indiana. There you can drive by his house and the hotel from which he conducted his campaign, now an apartment building

Hoosier - Wendell L. Wilkie



November 7th.

Paul Writes -
Edgar Doud Whitcomb, Indiana governor from 1969 to 1973, was born in Hayden, Indiana, in 1917 on this day.

At this writing, he is Indiana’s oldest living governor. His wife, when he was governor, Patricia, is sometimes mentioned as Indiana’s most glamorous first lady. The fashion designer, “Mr. Blackwell,” now known for his “worst dressed lists,” designed dresses for her. Last I read, he lives in a cabin on the Ohio River.

Whitcomb Home - Seymour, Indiana



November 22nd.

Paul Writes -
Obviously, it is the anniversary of the 1963 assassination of JFK in Dallas.

Debbie Smith & JFK Limo - Greenfield Village



December 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Remember John Brown and his abortive raid on Harpers Ferry?  He was executed on this date in 1859.

Of the fifteen hundred troops providing security for the scene, the Virginia Military Institute sent cadets under the command of a man who would later have the nickname “Stonewall” when he fought against the same government that was hanging Brown.

One of the Richmond militia members at the hanging was an actor named John Wilkes Booth, later to be assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

 
John Brown



December 7th.

Paul Writes -
We all know that this is the date in 1941 that FDR said would live in infamy following the surprise attack by the Japanese on the US base at Pearl Harbor.

Not all Japanese leaders thought it a good idea to attack the US. “I fear that all we have done is awaken a sleeping tiger, and filled him with a terrible resolve," said Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. He was right.

Battleship USS West Virginia



December 11th.

Paul Writes -
Perhaps a more important birthday for many of us is that of Indiana, on this date in 1816. It is our 19th state.

Although there are those who think Spanish or Welsh explorers came this way first, on scant evidence, the accepted European history of the state begins with the French.

Before 1700 the French had an outpost in what is now Fort Wayne, on a site that is now a rather empty field with nothing more than a public access to a river and a historical marker.

"19th State"



December 17th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1936, Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen introduced the world to his wooden buddy, Charlie McCarthy, on "The Rudy Vallee Show."

Charlie now resides at the Smithsonian, along with Archie Bunker's chair, Fonzie's leather jacket, and Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. I saw a great quote from Edgar Bergen: "Hard work never killed anybody but why take the chance?"

Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy



December 20th.

Paul Writes -
J. G. Tierney fell off a barge and drowned in the Colorado River on this day in 1922 while surveying for the upcoming construction of the Hoover Dam.

Eerily, thirteen years later to the day, his son, Patrick Tierney, fell from one of the intake towers during the construction of the dam. The father and son are said to be the first and last persons of the 112-114 men who died working on the construction of the dam.

Debbie Smith At Hoover Dam

Also On December 20th.

Paul Writes -
Indiana State Police Trooper Eugene Teague was the first state police officer killed in the line of duty, this day in 1933, but not in Indiana but rather in Paris, Illinois.

He was part of a contingent of officers acting on information that Edward Shouse, a Hoosier who grew up in Terre Haute and was once a member of Dillinger’s gang, would be at the Frances Hotel in that city. When Shouse appeared accompanied by two women, Teague rammed their car with his to prevent them from escaping.

In the ensuing gunfight Teague was killed by pellets from a riot gun fired by another officer.

Indiana State Trooper Eugene Teague



January 1st.

Paul Writes -
Country singer Hiram "Hank" Williams was noticed by his limo driver to be dead at a gas station in Oak Ridge, West Virginia, on this date in 1953.

The star ("Your Cheatin’ Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin", "I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry") had been using whiskey and chloral hydrate.

Earlier the car had been stopped by the police for speeding and the officer noted that Williams looked dead. The driver kept on driving, apparently used to seeing Williams unconscious from hard-drinking. Williams was 29.

They say the next song of his to become a hit, after he died, was "I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive." He apparently didn't.

His son carries on the family name.

Hank Williams

Hank Jr.

Hank Williams' Car



January 6th.

Paul Writes -
On this day in 1942, not quite a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Army headquarters in Washington announced that a camp would be built in Indiana. Camp Atterbury sprawls across portions of three counties south of Indianapolis. Thousands of workers hurried the camp into operation and by summer thousands of soldiers had taken their place. Hundreds of thousands of military personnel entered or left the service there. Thousands of POWs were kept there during WWII.

Near Edinburg

Including 15 404 205.



January 14th.

Paul Writes -
This is the anniversary of the death of actor Humphrey Bogart in 1957. He was just a few days short of 58 when he lost his two year battle with esophageal cancer.

His wife was actress Lauren Bacall. The story goes that he is buried with a gold whistle, inscribed with a line she said to him in the movie in which they first met ("To Have and Have Not"): "If you need anything just whistle." I've read that he was often the second choice for some of his most famous roles. They say the studio wanted Ronald Reagan for the classic "Casablanca," George Raft for "The Maltese Falcon," and Gregory Peck for "The African Queen."

Humphrey Bogart In Casablanca



Janury 15th.

Paul Writes -
This is the anniversary of the death of photographer Matthew Brady, in 1896 (born in 1823). The photos of the Civil War that came out of his studio (he dispatched 20 teams of photographers) are as powerful today as they were 14 decades ago.

Eighteen presidents would sit in front of his camera. More. His original tombstone had the wrong year of death. It has been fixed. We visited his final resting spot in Congressional Cemetery on the southeast side of Washington, D. C. The cemetery is the current home of many notables but until the past few years was somewhat neglected.

Matthew Brady



January 16th.

Paul Writes -
Prohibition took effect on this day in 1920. It devastated the Kentucky bourbon industry.

Many distilleries closed. The woman who owned the family liquor business of Waterfill & Frazier simply shipped her whole distillery, literally lock, stock and barrel, to Mexico where she kept up the business, complete with tank cars of Kentucky limestone water shipped south, as no other water would do.

Much of her product made its way illegally back over the border. When prohibition ended, she shipped her distillery back to the Bluegrass. The law was widely despised and many people took to making their own booze, a tradition that thrived in the Appalachian hills as a means of evading the taxes on liquor.

Moon Shiners



February 5th.

Paul Writes -
The last American combat casualty of the Vietnam War, Colonel William B. Nolde, was laid to rest on this date in 1973. He is at Arlington.

Colonel Nolde



February 7th.

Paul Writes -
One of the towering figures of the pre-Civil War US Senate was Kentucky's Henry Clay. He was known as the "Great Compromiser" or the "Great Pacificator" because of his ability to fashion legislative compromises that averted civil war time and again.

On this date in 1839 on the Senate floor he declared "I had rather be right than president." Apparently he thought he could be both because he tried three times to be president.

An author of books on oratory writing in the 1840's (in a time when such was taken seriously) said that Clay may be the best orator the nation had produced save for Patrick Henry.

That is high praise indeed as Clay shared the Senate chambers with Massachusetts’s Senator Daniel Webster and South Carolina's John C. Calhoun, both widely acknowledged as two of the most eloquent to ever to sit in Congress.

Henry Clay



February 8th.

Paul Writes -
If you lived in Indianapolis on this date in 1977 you probably saw the pictures of a downtown mortgage firm executive, Richard O. Hall, with a shotgun wired to his neck by Anthony G. "Tony" Kiritsis.

Kiritsis claimed that he had been cheated in some business deal. After leading Hall around downtown, Kiritsis commandeered a police car and drove Hall to Kiritsis's apartment on the city's westside where he held off police for the next 63 hours.

Finally he surrendered, but not until giving long rambling interviews with WIBC radio news director Fred Heckman. Kiritsis was charged with a variety of crimes as you might imagine, but was incompetent to stand trial. He spent perhaps ten years in the custody of the state mental health authorities and was released in 1988. Kiritsis died January 28, 2005, and is buried in an unmarked grave at Crown Hill.

Hall & Kiritsis



February 13th.

Paul Writes -
Quick, name some of the best generals ever produced by the US.

Maybe your list includes Washington, Lee, Grant, Eisenhower, Pershing, Patton, and so forth. But you'd be remiss to overlook the man who died in the Louisville suburbs on this date in 1818 at the age of 65.

General George Rogers Clark was a remarkable man and all of America owes much to him, especially we here in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio.

When he was barely in his mid-20's he conquered lands out here in the West on behalf of his native Virginia that effectively doubled the size of the nation.

Paul & Debbie At Clark Statute In Louisville



February 17th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned this before but, for the benefit of those of you that are new, I'll describe it again. Nancy Barnett came to Johnson County (just south of Indy for those of you not local) in 1821.

She settled near Sugar Creek and wanted to be buried there. Her son honored her wishes and over time other graves followed. But a nearby path over the stream became a road and ultimately all the graves were moved except Nancy's.

Tradition has it that her son objected and so she stayed put. But, in 1905, the road was to be widened. [It is now CR 400 S and maybe a mile or so away connects with busy US 31.] Nancy was an obstacle and so was, according to his descendants, Willard Barnett, a relative of Nancy's. The story goes that Willard met the road crew with a shotgun. Whatever the case, Nancy's grave remained where it was and now the road politely splits when it comes to her grave. There she is atop of a little mound by herself literally in the middle of the street.

Nancy Barnett Grave - Johnson County



February 18th.

Paul Writes -
The Fourteenth Street Bridge between Clarksville and Louisville carried its first train on this day in 1870, the first railroad bridge to be completed between Louisville and Southern Indiana.

At the time the bridge was the longest iron bridge in the country and had high spans in the center to accommodate steamboats and a span over the canal on the Louisville side that could swing around out of the way of boats. Earlier attempts to bridge the mile-wide river ran out of steam but the burgeoning railroad traffic that was spreading south from Louisville and north from Southern Indiana made a bridge imperative and construction began on this bridge on August 1, 1867.

Freight and commuter trains passed in high volume over the bridge in its early years and in 1916 improvements were undertaken (completed in 1919) to permit easier transit by the bigger ships passing under the bridge and to permit the bridge to carry heavier trains. The pivoting span at the canal was replaced by a span that could be raised out of the way (still visible from I-64). The bridge still sits on its original stone supports and carries traffic yet today.

Debbie & Flood Waters 14th Street Bridge



March 1st.

Paul Writes -
By his own account, this is the day in 1830 that twenty-one-year-old Abraham Lincoln “left the old homestead in Indiana and came to Illinois.”

In an account of his time in Indiana he said: “There I grew up.” Lincoln is most often identified as being from Kentucky or Illinois, but the Hoosier state has a bonafide claim on Lincoln because he spent his “formative years” here, from the age of seven to age twenty-one.

Indiana Statehouse



March 6th.

Paul Writes -
"Remember the Alamo!" You do if you are from Texas.

After a siege of a couple of weeks (would it surprise you to know that there are differing versions of how long), the fort fell on this day in 1836.

Perhaps 3-4K Mexican troops under General Santa Anna surrounded the 187 (or 185) defenders who were seeking independence for Texas from Mexico. William Barrett Travis and Jim Bowie (a Kentuckian, BTW, from Logan County) led the defenders. Women, children, and a black slave were spared, but all the male defenders were killed.

The Alamo

We don't know for sure if he died in the battle or was put to death afterwards, and we don't know where he is buried or if he was consumed in a funeral pyre after the battle, but we do know that former member of the Tennessee House and US House of Representatives, David Crockett, was killed in the battle for the Alamo or shortly thereafter.




March 9th.

Paul Writes -
Former US Senator from Indiana, William Ezra Jenner was 76 on his passing in Bedford, Indiana, this day in 1985.

Born in Marengo, Indiana, as a youngster he was part of a cast that performed in the cave that is still open to tourists there. He became a lawyer (he won one of his early cases with what seems to be a Hoosier version of that old Texas defense, the victim was a bad person who “needed killing”), then state legislator, then member of Congress.

Senator Jenner

He represented Indiana at the height of the cold war.



March 11th.

Paul Writes -
In January I mentioned a now gone web page that listed many unusual facts. One of the events that the page noted took place on this day in 1947.

A US B-47 accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Luckily it takes more than dropping one to detonate it.

B-47



March 18th.

Paul Writes -
When ninety-seven-year-old Herman B Wells died in his Bloomington, Indiana, house on this day in 2000 some eighty years of his association with IU, most of those years as president or chancellor, came to an end.

Wells never married or had children and was utterly devoted to the school he helped raise to world-class level. Widely respected by his colleagues across the world, beloved by students and faculty, Wells was “Mr. IU” to his admirers.

There is a sculpture of him sitting on a bench on the Bloomington campus as if greeting a passerby, fitting given his joviality and love of meeting people ranging from freshmen to European royalty.

Herman B Wells



March 20th.

Paul Writes -
You’ve seen the movie “Hoosiers” in which Gene Hackman takes his basketball team from tiny “Hickory, Indiana,” to win the state high school basketball finals in Indianapolis.

The real life inspiration for that storyline took place on this day in 1954 at venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Hickory is a fictional place, but even tinier Milan, Indiana, is not.

They beat powerhouse Muncie Central 32-30 on the strength of Bobby Plump’s last second shot. Sadly, such will not happen again as Indiana has adopted class basketball and the small schools and the large schools no longer get to play out the David and Goliath scene.

Bobby Plump operates a restaurant with pretty good food in Broad Ripple (an Indianapolis enclave of shops and restaurants) called, appropriately, Plump’s Last Shot.

"The Real Last Shot"



March 23rd.

Paul Writes -
U.S. Air Force pilot Virgil I “Gus” Grissom, from Mitchell, Indiana, and a Purdue graduate, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on this day in 1952 flying cover for a photo reconnaissance mission over Korea.

One of America’s first astronauts, he died in a spacecraft fire on the launch pad in 1967. It is also another anniversary for him. On this day in 1965, he and astronaut John W. Brown made three orbits of the earth in a Gemini spacecraft that Grissom dubbed the Molly Brown, taking a bit of flak for smuggling a corned-beef sandwich on board (weightless, floating crumbs can be a problem with electronic equipment).

"Gus" Grissom



March 25th.

Paul Writes -
Paul Vories McNutt, former Indiana governor, passed in New York City at age 62 on this date in 1955. He was born in Franklin, Indiana but grew up in Martinsville. He became a soldier, then lawyer, then law professor and dean. He became governor during the Great Depression and no governor before him except Oliver P. Morton (and William Henry Harrison if you count governorship of the Indiana Territory), and none since, has wielded such power.

He had national ambitions, but made an error by not signing on board quickly enough with FDR’s nomination for president. FDR sent him to be High Commissioner of the Philippines to keep him out of his hair (and the national limelight as McNutt had presidential aspirations). He served in the federal wartime agency, the War Manpower Commission, where he had unprecedented national authority to make manpower allocations, then the Philippines again before returning to a law career in the states. You find him now at Arlington.

Indiana Governor Paul McNutt



April 1st.

Paul Writes -
This day in 1969, former president Dwight Eisenhower's funeral train, enroute from Washington, D.C., to Kansas, stopped in Washington, Indiana, to change crews.

It was the only stop in Indiana.

Waiting For Ike's Funeral Train Maysville, Ky

Comment - Ike's Funeral Train also went through Osgood.



April 5th.

Paul Writes -
Musical history was made over the next two days in 1923. This day in that year King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band left Chicago for its first ever trip to a recording studio, the Gennett Records studio adjacent to the Starr Piano factory in Richmond, Indiana.

The recordings were made before the days of electronic microphones and were accomplished by means of sound transmitted through a horn to a stylus that made grooves in a wax disc.

The work of Gennett Records, incidentally, is regarded with some reverence by music industry historians. Persons little known included greats like Hoagy Carmichael.

Richmond, Indiana



April 10th.

Paul Writes -
The infamous Bataan Death March began on this date in 1942 after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese on yesterday's date.

In reality a series of marches over 5 to 9 days, the length depended on where the captive began his march into captivity. Most marched 55 miles, with no food or water, and many were executed by the Japanese along the way.

At the end of the march they endured being packed like standing sardines into cargo train cars, packed so tightly that the dead remained standing.

In all, perhaps 20K Americans and Filipino soldiers died along the way. Thousands of Americans and Filipinos who survived the march subsequently died in the hellholes that were Japanese POW camps.

National Archives - Bataan Death March



April 12th.

Paul Writes -
The bloodiest war in our nation's history (on average about 3K people a week would die over the next 208 weeks) began at about 0430 as rebel forces fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, harbor on this day in 1861.

Counting both sides as American, more US soldiers would die in the next four years—somewhat over 600K—than all of America’s other wars combined; as a proportion of the then-current population of 31.5M that would be like losing 6M, yes, million, men today.

Fort Sumter



April 16th.

Paul Writes -
Marie Bernarde (her family called her Bernadette) Soubirous, Saint Bernadette to us, died on this day in 1879 at the age of 35.

At the age of 14 she had the first of 18 visions that the faithful believe were the appearance of Mary, the Mother of Christ.

The site, Lourdes, is now a shrine that attracts those faithful worldwide.

Lourdes Shrine



June 5th.

Paul Writes -
I am going to mention the formation of the Brookville (Indiana) Historical Society on this date in 1908 for the reason the society was formed.

Its impetus was the desire of the last two trustees of the Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church to find an organization to care for their church building. The building, built in 1812, is an important part of Indiana history because it is the oldest church in Indiana still on its original foundation.

Walk around the building and you can see the gun ports for use by the congregants in the event of Indian attack. The building is usually open to visitors and inside you can see the stone fire pit that kept worshipers warm when the winter winds swept through the southern Indiana forests.

A busy road is only a short distance away, but when Debbie and I were inside we could imagine a world where Indiana is not yet a state, Abraham Lincoln is a child, and Tecumseh’s name is well known in the surrounding pioneer settlements.

Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church



June 24th.

Paul Writes -
You might know that President Richard Nixon’s mother, Hannah Milhous, was a Hoosier from the Butlerville, Indiana, area, living there until she was around 12.

The president was in Vernon, Indiana, this day in 1971 to speak to about 10K gathered at the courthouse on the occasion of a dedication of a plaque to his mother.

He began by recalling the words Churchill used when he first addressed the US Congress, “I cannot say that this is my fatherland, but I can proudly say that this is my mother’s land.” [Churchill’s mom was born in Rochester, New York.]

President Nixon



July 23rd.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday (1961) to actor (“Cheers”) Woody Harrelson. He’s a Texan but graduated from pretty Hanover College in southern Indiana in 1983. His father’s a convicted (twice) murderer.

Woody & Ginny

And, happy birthday to Alison Krauss of Alison Krauss and Union Station, on this day in 1971. Her voice is proof that God exists.

Alison Krauss



July 26th.

Paul Writes -
Now I'll bet you have wondered who was the first governor of the state of Indiana. Well, he was a man from New Jersey named Jonathan Jennings, who was about 50-years-old when he passed away on his Clark County, Indiana, farm this day in 1834.

He was the son of a minister and became a lawyer in Jeffersonville and later Vincennes. He served two terms and then went on to Congress as a representative, where he was the avid political foe of William Henry Harrison, the other towering political figure in territorial times.

The story goes that Jennings lost his seat in Congress because of his drinking. He may have been something of a true politician, if you are cynical about politicians. He was aggressive (sometimes on the right issues -- he was instrumental in keeping slavery out of Indiana) and did as he pleased.

Jonathan Jennings - First Gov. Of Indiana



July 30th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the cruiser USS Indianapolis (the second, BTW, to bear the name) transported the A-bomb from San Francisco to Tinian Island, where it would be dispatched to Hiroshima in just a couple of weeks. With her mission completed, the Indianapolis headed home.

This is the day in 1945 that the Indianapolis was torpedoed, taking only twelve minutes to sink. Of almost 1200 men, 700-900 are thought to have survived, but only 316 were rescued.

Memorial Downtown Indianapolis



August 2nd.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1939, physicist and perhaps the most renowned scientist alive at the time, Albert Einstein, sent a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt concerning the potential for an atomic bomb.

In the letter he warned Roosevelt that Germany might be constructing such a bomb. The letter was an important spur to development of what would become the "Manhattan Project," the US effort that led to atomic fire over Hiroshima almost exactly six years later.

Albert Einstein



August 9th.

Paul Writes -
General Walter Bedell Smith, 65, passed away at Walter Reed Hospital (or in an ambulance on the way there) in Washington this day in 1961. He had a heart attack.

You've seen him portrayed as a peripheral character in many WWII movies (an understatement of his true value to his boss and the nation) because he was General Eisenhower's chief of staff during the campaign in Africa and Europe.

After the war he served as ambassador to the USSR, director of the CIA, and undersecretary of state. He was born and raised here in Indianapolis and attended school at Emmerick Manual High School.

He's At Arlington.

"Hoosier" General Bedell Smith



August 17th.

Paul Writes -
In what is becoming the far northeast suburbs of Indianapolis you will find the town of Elwood, a community of slightly less than 10K persons.

It is an unlikely setting for one of the largest political rallies in US history, but that is just what occurred this day in 1940. The occasion was the speech by Elwood-born Wendell Willkie accepting the Republican Party’s nomination to try and prevent an unprecedented third presidential term for FDR.

Estimates vary but Time Magazine, Newsweek, and the Indianapolis Star all reported a crowd well in excess of 200K at Callaway Park in the scorching 100° heat. Willkie ran his campaign from Rushville, Indiana.

Willkie

"On To Elwood"



August 27th.

Paul Writes -
One of the unsung heroes of the Civil War passed away in New York on this date in 1881 at the age of 80. He wasn't a soldier but rather a banker. His name was J(ames) F(ranklin) D(oughty) Lanier.

He was born in North Carolina. When he was growing up his family moved to Bourbon County, Kentucky, then Eaton, Ohio, before settling in the bustling Ohio River town of Madison, Indiana.

He became a lawyer in Madison (he had gone to school at Transylvania University in Kentucky) and then a banker. In the early 1800's Madison was strategically located on the river commerce route between Louisville and Cincinnati. It also served as a gateway to the rest of Indiana so Lanier prospered.

He moved from there to New York to take his shot at Wall Street and founded a successful brokerage firm there. When war broke out and Indiana answered Lincoln's call for volunteers the state didn't have the funds to pay to equip its troops (states often bore such expenses, especially early in the war) and Governor Oliver P. Morton borrowed money from Lanier.

Two years later when party squabbling among the Indiana legislators and the governor left the state without a budget, Morton again turned to Lanier. Lanier lent the state about $640K, a staggering sum for the times, with no assurances that it would ever be paid back.

Lanier's beautiful Madison mansion overlooking the Ohio River was the first official state historic site, now operated by the state of Indiana and open to the public. It is worth a visit.

J.F.D. Lanier

Madison's Lanier Mansion



September 4th.

Paul Writes -
On the subject of Hoosier novelists, you can still find novels from the 64-year-old Vevay, Indiana, native who died in Lake George, New York, on this day in 1902.

Edward Eggleston, whose best known work was The Hoosier School-Master, based on his brother George’s experience as a teacher (George was also a novelist) is said to have ushered in the Golden Age of Indiana literature.

In addition to being a novelist, Edward was a Methodist minister and a historian, as well as president of the American Historical Society. His novels of the Indiana frontier were very popular, although he lived in New York at the time.

Edward Eggleston



September 6th.

Paul Writes -
John Dillinger committed his first violent crime on this day in 1924. He and another loser, an older ex-con named Edward Singleton, hid in the dark, drinking, near the Mooresville (Indiana) Christian Church (the building at 61 W. Harrison still stands) and waylaid local merchant Frank Morgan. [As Bryan Burroughs says in his entertaining “Public Enemies,” they were fueled by “stupidity and alcohol.”] The crooks got away with about $150 but were captured fairly quickly.

Although Morgan wasn’t able to give a good ID on his attackers, the police got a confession out of Dillinger by promising him leniency. Unfortunately for Dillinger, the judge didn’t buy into the deal and sent him away on a 10-20 year sentence. Some observers feel the harsh sentence is what set Dillinger on the road to perdition. Singleton got 2-14.

While I am at it I will mention that this is also the anniversary of the 1933 robbery by Dillinger and his gang of the Massachusetts Avenue State Bank (then at 815 Massachusetts Avenue) here in Indianapolis. They got away with $24K that was never recovered.

"Young" John Dillinger



September 27th.

Paul Writes -
Joseph (Steve) Broady had to make up time on this date in 1903. He was at the controls of a train carrying the mail between Washington and Atlanta.

The track bed wasn't in good shape and he was used to starting his run behind schedule and barreling on to try to make up for lost time. Not too far from Danville, Virginia, traveling perhaps 90 miles per hour, his #97 train plunged into the Dan River Gorge, killing him and seven others.

The disaster was turned into one of the most famous of railroad songs: "The Wreck of Old 97."

"Wreck Of Old 97"



September 30th.

Paul Writes -
William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory, negotiated a treaty at Fort Wayne with the Miami, Delaware, and Pottawatomi Indians that opened up more than three million acres to white settlement.

The government paid about a penny per acre and the treaty infuriated Tecumseh who threatened to kill the chiefs who negotiated the treaty. The boundary line of the land was the place where the sun's shadow fell on this date in 1809 at 1000. The Ten O'clock Line, as it became known, runs through southern Indiana and is commemorated by a hiking trail of the same name.

You can see a historical marker dedicated to the event in tiny Story, Indiana. It isn't an easy place to get to as the once thriving community has had many access routes cut off over the decades by the surrounding lands passing into state and federal lands and the construction of Monroe Reservoir.

But many people do make the trip down or up Indiana State Road 135 to stay at the fabled Story Inn there. If you do stay there you might become one of the numerous people who swear they have encountered the "blue lady" ghost said to haunt the rooms above the restaurant.

Story Inn

MCR Been There.



December 4th.

Paul Writes -
This day in 1868 the steamboat United States was bound downriver from Cincinnati while the America was headed up the Ohio River from Louisville, when, near Patriot, Indiana (maybe a mile or so above Warsaw, Kentucky), the two literally ran into each other on a curve.

The United States exploded, killing 70 people, while 2 on the America died. Casualty counts vary considerably depending on the source.

On The Ohio River Near Patriot



March 28th.

Paul Writes -
The first steam powered train in Indiana operated from the Madison, Indiana, area beginning in 1838. But if you’ve been to Madison (go in the spring or fall when you can attend a very nice art fair there) you know that the picturesque little Ohio River town sits below some pretty imposing bluffs.

That climb was too much for early train engines so cars were pulled up by horses and allowed to descend by gravity. On this date in 1844 a descending train plowed into the back of a train ahead and killed four people and injured several more. Six years later a cog wheel system was introduced and that was used for over two decades.

Later the heaviest train engine in the world at the time, the Reuben Wells, was used to climb the 5.89 percent grade, the steepest in the country for any standard gauge railroad.

That’s a rise of 5.89 feet for every 100 feet of length,

Reuben Wells