This Day in History

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2007

In Alaska, in the Nation and the World

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In Alaska

• In 1900, the last rail for the White Pass and Yukon Railroad was laid, connecting Skagway and Whitehorse.

• In 1948, two Argentinian brothers piled their bikes into a jeep purchased for $550 and headed out of Fairbanks. It had taken them two years to bicycle from Buenos Aires.

• In 1959, Buell Nesbett of Anchorage was named Chief Justice of the newly formed Alaska Supreme Court. Walter J. Hodge of Nome and John Dimond of Juneau were named Associate Justices of the 3-person court.

• In 1968, while a Dutch clairvoyant and a Kenai dowser were looking 100 miles in the wrong direction, bush pilot Mort Clement found a lost plane near Simpson Pass, earning a $3,000 reward.

In the nation

• In 1914, transcontinental telephone service began with the first test phone conversation between New York and San Francisco.

• In 1957, Jack Paar made his debut as host of NBC's "Tonight Show."

• In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created NASA.

• In 1997, members of Congress from both parties embraced compromise legislation designed to balance the budget while cutting taxes.

• In 2002, an Amtrak train derailed outside Washington, injuring more than 100 people.

• In 2006, the U.S. command announced it was sending 3,700 troops to Baghdad to try to quell sectarian violence sweeping the Iraqi capital. Actor-director Mel Gibson issued a lengthy statement apologizing for his drunken-driving arrest and for what he called his "despicable" statements toward the deputies who arrested him in Malibu, Calif.

In the world

• In 1588, the English attacked the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines, resulting in an English victory.

• In 1900, Italian King Humbert I was assassinated by an anarchist; he was succeeded by his son, Victor Emmanuel III.

• In 1948, Britain's King George VI opened the Olympic Games in London.

• In 1957, the International Atomic Energy Agency was established.

• In 1967, an accidental rocket launch aboard the supercarrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin resulted in a fire and explosions that killed 134 servicemen. (One survivor was Navy Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, now a U.S. senator.)

• In 1980, a state funeral was held in Cairo, Egypt, for the deposed Shah of Iran, who had died two days earlier at age 60.

• In 1981, Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in a resplendent ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. (The couple divorced in 1996.)

• In 1997, Minamata Bay, Japan, once a worldwide symbol of industrial pollution, was declared free of mercury 40 years after contaminated food fish were blamed for deaths and birth defects.

• In 2002, in Afghanistan, a man identified by authorities as a would-be suicide bomber with more than a half-ton of explosives in his car was stopped by a chance traffic accident just 300 yards from the U.S. Embassy. A visibly exhausted Pope John Paul II greeted thousands of Roman Catholic faithful as he arrived in Guatemala City.

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