It was on this day in 1900 that train engineer Casey Jones died while running an overnight express passenger-route from Memphis TN to Canton MS. He was filling in for a sick co-worker, and his train was already an hour and a half behind schedule when it departed at 12:50 am. Casey was one of the best engineers of his time (despite what some songs later said about his alleged vices, he was known to be a teetotaler) and quickly made up most of that time. He was only a few minutes behind schedule as the train was pulling into Vaughan MS, but tragedy was (literally) around the corner – a freight train stalled on the tracks. His fireman noticed the lights of the caboose first, and warned Jones. The engineer replied by telling him to jump while applying the whistle and reversing the throttle, but it was too late to avoid a collision. The passenger train plowed through four of the freight cars before derailing. Because he stayed with the engine (legend has it that his body was still clutching the throttle when it was removed from the wreck) he was able to lower the speed from 75mph to ~35mph, resulting in no other deaths nor serious injuries than his own.
The first thing that Wiki mentions for this day is “313 – Battle of Tzirallum: Emperor Licinius defeats Maximinus II and unifies the Eastern Roman Empire” while the most recent is “2010 – Hailed as the largest World’s Fair in history, Expo 2010 opens in Shangai, China.”
A few other events that occurred on this date include:
1492 – Columbus receives a commission to sail the ocean blue.
1789 – George Washington takes the oath of office and becomes the first President of the United States.
1803 – US purchases the Louisiana Territory from France.
1927 – First women’s federal prison in the US opens.
Slices of birthday cake go out to Johnny Galecki, Bill Plympton, Larry Niven, and Willie Nelson.