This Day in History

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

In Alaska

• In 1894, the Juneau Ferry & Navigation Co. began carrying passengers between Juneau and Douglas Island. The operation continued until the completion of the Douglas Bridge in 1935.

• In 1917, all saloons in the territory of Alaska closed their doors at midnight under a new Alaska law.

• In 1947, the merger of Skinner & Eddy Corp. and the Alaska Steamship Co. was announced.

• In 1975, U.S. District Judge James Von der Heydt banned large-scale timbercutting throughout Alaska.

In the Nation

• In 1862, President Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.

• In 1877, President and Mrs. Hayes celebrated their silver anniversary (technically, a day late) by re-enacting their wedding ceremony in the White House.

• In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, N.J.

• In 1946, President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

• In 1961, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

• In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

• In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas.

• In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 64.

• In 2001, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spent his final day in office praising police, firefighters, and other city employees, and said he had no regrets about returning to private life. Notre Dame tapped Tyrone Willingham to be its football coach, replacing George O'Leary, who'd resigned because of misstatements about his academic and athletic achievements on his resume; Willingham became the first black head coach in any sport for the Irish.

In the World

• In 1775, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army Gens. Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

• In 1857, Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.

• In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.

• In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

• In 1992, President Bush visited Somalia, where he saw firsthand the famine racking the east African nation, and praised U.S. troops who were providing relief to the starving population, during a visit to Sarajevo.

• In 1997, in Sorocaba, Brazil, riot troops stormed a prison where inmates were holding hundreds of hostages, quickly ending a three-day rebellion without any deaths.

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