This Day in History

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2006

In Alaska

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• In 1906, a fire destroyed much of the business district of Wrangell.

• In 1959, Alaska jobless benefits were reported higher than that of any other state. The city of Kodiak prepared its civil defense shelters in case of atomic war.

• In 1960, three "Iron Dogs" - gas-powered ski-equipped sleds - arrived in Fairbanks after a demonstration run along 1500 miles of the Kuskoquim River from Bethel, averaging 70 miles per day.

• In 1973, novice musher Dick Willmarth of Red Devil, won the first Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 20 days, 49 minutes and 41 seconds. Bobby Vent, of Huslia, was second.

• In 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Bligh Reef in the Valdez Narrows, spilling more than 11 million gallons of oil into the waters of Prince William Sound, creating the largest-ever oil spill in North America.

In the nation

• In 1883, long-distance telephone service was inaugurated between Chicago and New York.

• In 1934, President Roosevelt signed a bill granting future independence to the Philippines.

• In 1955, the Tennessee Williams play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" opened on Broadway with Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie, Ben Gazzara as Brick and Burl Ives as Big Daddy.

8• In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from the parents of Terri Schiavo to have a feeding tube reinserted into the severely brain-damaged woman.

In the world

• In 1765, Britain enacted the Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers.

• In 1944, in occupied Rome, the Nazis executed more than 300 civilians in reprisal for an attack by Italian partisans the day before that killed 32 German soldiers.

• In 1976, the president of Argentina, Isabel Peron, was deposed by her country's military.

• In 1980, one of El Salvador's most respected Roman Catholic Church leaders, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, was shot to death by gunmen as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador.

• In 1995, for the first time in 20 years, no British soldiers were patrolling the streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

• In 1996, NASA astronaut Shannon Lucid transferred from the space shuttle Atlantis to the Russian space station Mir, beginning a five-month stay. Stargazers across the country scanned the skies in hopes of seeing Hyakutake, the brightest comet to pass by the Earth in two decades.

• In 1999, NATO launched airstrikes against Yugoslavia, marking the first time in its 50-year existence that it had ever attacked a sovereign country. Thirty-nine people were killed when fire erupted in the Mont Blanc tunnel in France and burned for two days.

• In 2001, three car bombs exploded almost simultaneously in southern Russia, killing 23 people in the worst act of terror to hit Russia outside warring Chechnya in months. A Twin Otter plane crashed into a mountainside house on the Caribbean island of St. Barthelemy, killing all 19 people on board and one person in the house. U.S. skater Michelle Kwan won her fourth World Figure Skating title; Irina Slutskaya of Russia got the silver, and American Sarah Hughes earned the bronze.

• In 2005, the president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, fled the country after opposition activists stormed his headquarters, seized control of state television and rampaged through government offices. Chess legend Bobby Fischer was freed after nearly nine months in Japanese detention; he boarded a flight to his new home, Iceland.

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