This Day in History

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2003

In Alaska

• In 1959, The Piggly-Wiggly store in Spenard was sold.

• In 1967, The first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley was completed.

• In 1979, The strongest earthquake in seven years, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, struck 120 miles northeast of Yakutat.

• In 1987, The Alaska Department of Natural Resources urged passage of a bill to charge fees in Alaska's most popular campgrounds.

In the nation

• In 1827, the first U.S. railroad chartered to carry passengers and freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co., was incorporated.

• In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.

• In 1849, the ship California arrived at San Francisco, carrying the first of the gold-seekers.

• In 1854, some 50 slavery opponents met in Ripon, Wis., to call for creation of a new political group, which became the Republican Party.

• In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized.

• In 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn., issued a preliminary report saying at least two major crime syndicates were operating in the United States.

• In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains the human genes. The revolutionary discovery in a Cambridge University laboratory led to Watson and Crick's being awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1962.

• In 1993, A gun battle erupted at a compound near Waco, Texas, when U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began.

• In 1995, Denver International Airport opened after 16 months of delays and $3.2 billion in budget overruns.

• In 1996, Britain's Princess Diana agreed to divorce Prince Charles.

• In 1998, In their weekly radio addresses, President Clinton and the Republicans sparred over education, with Clinton describing tests showing American high school students lagging behind those of other industrial nations as a "wake-up call" while the Republicans blamed the disappointing results on a "hungry bureaucracy in Washington" that gobbles up education funds.

• In 2002, The body of a young girl found outside San Diego was positively identified as that of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam, who'd disappeared from her bedroom about a month earlier; a neighbor, David Westerfield, was later convicted of her murder and sentenced to death.

In the world

• In 1975, more than 40 people were killed in London's Underground when a subway train smashed into the end of a tunnel.

• In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in central Stockholm.

• In 1993, Three U.S. planes carried out the first mission to drop relief supplies over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

• In 2002, Hindus in western India retaliated for a train attack that claimed some 60 lives by setting fire to Muslims' homes, then keeping firefighters away for hours.

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