Pony Express begins …

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The Pony Express began delivering mail this date in 1860. It was a “mail” service delivering messages, newspapers, mail and small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Pass, to Sacramento, California by horseback, using a series of relay stations.

Officially operating as the Leavenworth and Pike’s Peak Express Company of 1859, in 1860 it became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company by the freighting business. During its 19 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860 to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east-west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the United States. (from Wikipedia)

U.S. Mint created …

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The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act this date in 1792. Per the terms of the Coinage Act, the first Mint building was in Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States; it was the first building of the Republic raised under the Constitution. Today, the Mint’s headquarters (a non-coin-producing facility) are in Washington, D.C. It operates mint facilities in Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco and West Point, New York and a bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Originally part of the State Department, the Mint was made an independent agency in 1799. Under the Coinage Act of 1873, the Mint became part of the Department of the Treasury. It was placed under the auspices of the Treasurer of the United States in 1981. (from Wikipedia)

 

April Fools’ Day

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April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day is a day celebrated by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool’s errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. Traditionally, in some countries, such as the UK, Australia and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an “April Fool.” Elsewhere, such as in Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Russia, The Netherlands, and the U.S., the jokes last all day.

The origin of April Fools’ Day is obscure. One likely theory is that the modern holiday was first celebrated soon after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar; the term referred to someone still adhering to the Julian Calendar, which it replaced. In many pre-Christian cultures, May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer and signaled the start of the spring planting season. An April Fool may have been someone who did this prematurely. Another possible origin lies in the fact that when King Charles IX of France officially changed the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1, some of his subjects continued using the old system.

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In the eighteenth century, the festival was often posited as going back to the time of Noah. According to an English newspaper article published April 13, 1789, the day had its origin when Noah sent his dove off too early before the waters had receded; he did this on the first day of the Hebrew month that corresponds with April. A possible reference to April Fools’ Day can be seen in the Canterbury Tales (ca 1400) in the Nun’s Priest’s tale, a tale of two fools (Chanticleer and the fox), which took place on March 32 (the passage originally meant 32 days after March, i.e. 2 May). (from Wikipedia and  www.cute-calendar.com)

The Eiffel Tower…

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The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower.

Constructed from 1887–89 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world: 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015.

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The tower is 1,063 ft. tall, about the same height as an 81-story building, and is the tallest structure in Paris. (from Wikipedia)

Jeopardy! debuts ….

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Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merve Griffin. The show features a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in the form of questions. The original daytime version debuted on NBC this date in 1964 and aired until January 3, 1975. A weekly nighttime syndicated edition aired from September 1974 to September 1975, and a revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, ran on NBC from October 1978 to March 1979. The current version, a daily syndicated show produced by Sony Pictures Television premiered on September 10, 1984 and is still airing, making it by far the program’s most successful incarnation.

Both NBC versions and the weekly syndicated version were hosted by  Art Fleming. Since its inception, the daily syndicated version has featured Alex Trebek as host.

With 7,000 episodes aired, the daily syndicated version of Jeopardy! has won a record 31 Daytime Emmy Awards and is the only post-1960 game show to be honored with the Peabody Award. In 2013, the program was ranked No. 45 on TV Guide’s  list of the 60 greatest shows in American television history. Jeopardy! has also gained a worldwide following with regional adaptations in many other countries. (from Wikipedia)

 

Coca-Cola invented …

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Coca-Cola (often referred to simply as Coke) is a carbonated soft drink produced by The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally intended as a patent medicine, it was invented this date in 1886 by John Pemberton. The drink’s name refers to two of its original ingredients, which were kola nuts (a source of caffeine) and coca leaves.

A Confederate Colonel who was wounded in the American Civil War and became addicted to morphine, Pemberton began a quest to find a substitute for the problematic drug. The prototype Coca-Cola recipe was formulated at Pemberton’s Eagle Drug and Chemical House, a drugstore in Columbus, Georgia, originally as a coca wine. He may have been inspired by the formidable success of Vin Mariani, a French coca wine. It is also worth noting that a Spanish drink called Kola Coca was presented at a contest in Philadelphia in 1885, a year before the official birth of Coca-Cola. The patent for this Spanish drink was bought by Coca-Cola in 1953.

In 1885, Pemberton registered his French Wine Coca nerve tonic. In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing a nonalcoholic version. Coca Cola’s first sales were at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health. Pemberton claimed Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence.

Coca-Cola was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coke to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th Century. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.  (from Wikipedia)

Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident

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The Three Mile Island accident was a partial nuclear meltdown that occurred on this date in 1979, in reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. It was the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

The accident began with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system, followed by a stuck-open pilot-operated relief valve in the primary system, which allowed large amounts of nuclear reactor coolant to escape. The mechanical failures were compounded by the initial failure of plant operators to recognize the situation as a loss-of-coolant accident due to inadequate training and human factors, such as human-computer interaction design oversights relating to ambiguous control room indicators in the power plant’s user interface. In particular, a hidden indicator light led to an operator manually overriding the automatic emergency cooling system of the reactor because the operator mistakenly believed that there was too much coolant water present in the reactor and causing the steam pressure release.

The accident crystallized anti-nuclear safety concerns among activists and the general public, resulted in new regulations for the nuclear industry, and has been cited as a contributor to the decline of a new reactor construction program that was already underway in the 1970s. The partial meltdown resulted in the release of radioactive gases and radioactive iodine into the environment. Worries were expressed by anti-nuclear movement activists. However, epidemiological studies analyzing the rate of cancer in and around the area since the accident, determined there was a small, statistically non-significant increase in the rate and thus no causal connection linking the accident with these cancers has been substantiated. Cleanup started in August 1979, and officially ended in December 1993, with a total cleanup cost of about $1 billion. (from Wikipedia)