History: October 8, 2018

1871

The Great Chicago fire begins when a cow in a barn kicks over a lantern, setting the whole building on fire and causing a blaze that would kill nearly 300 people, raze 17,450 buildings, and leave 100,000 homeless.

At the end of the day, there was $200 million in damages. That’s $3 billion in damages in today’s dollars.

Recent dry weather, wooden building infrastructure, and even streets and sidewalks planked in wood caused the fire to spread so quickly.

THAT SAME DAY

A series of fires kill between 1500 and 2500 people near Peshtigo, Wisconsin.

A firestorm wreaked havoc across Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan after strong winds caused smaller fires to spread very quickly.

The same storms instigated the Great Chicago Fire, which because of its notoriety as a larger city has left tragedy in Peshtigo forgotten.

By some accounts, the firestorm generated a tornado so powerful that rail cars were picked up into the air. Those who survived stayed wet in the Peshtigo River.

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1919

The first coast-to-coast air race is held between California and New York.

63 planes participated, with some leaving from California and the others from New York. The race was round-trip.

The winner flew a Havilland-4 with a Liberty motor. He had the fastest total elapsed time, including rest stops, breaks and refueling, finishing the race in just over 3 days. However, he was fourth in flight time, at 24 hours, 59 minutes, and 49 seconds.

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1967

Che Guevara meets his end.

The communist terrorist was wounded and captured in a skirmish with the Bolivian army. He would be executed the next day.

Guevara had been fomenting revolution in South American countries, plus Cuba. He was instrumental in installing Castro as the head there, and even served in the administration.

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1970

The Nobel Prize for literature goes to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

He was a Soviet dissident who boldly criticized the communist regime, and spent 8 years toiling and suffering in the gulag for it.

Following Stalin’s death, he was freed, but sent to exile in Siberia. That’s when his most prolific works were written.

He was later expelled to the United States, where he was also critical of what he deemed to be Western materialism.

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2001

The Department of Homeland Security opens for business, with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge at the helm.

It was designed to coordinate and aggregate intelligence information between various federal agencies.

It was responsible for producing the 5-color advisory chart, that was swiftly mocked by the media and others.

Today it is allocated nearly $100 billion annually.