This Day in History

  • September 19, 1957: Nevada is site of first-ever underground nuclear explosion
    on September 19, 2017 at 4:00 am

    On this day in 1957, the United States detonates a 1.7 kiloton nuclear weapon in an underground tunnel at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), a 1,375 square mile research center located 65 miles north of Las Vegas. The test, known as Rainier, was the first fully contained underground detonation and produced no radioactive fallout. A modified W-25 warhead weighing 218 pounds and measuring 25.7 inches in diameter and 17.4 inches in length was used for the test. Rainier was part of a series of 29 nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons safety tests known as Operation Plumbbob that were conducted at the NTS between May 28, 1957, and October 7, 1957. In December 1941, the U.S. government committed to building the world’s first nuclear weapon when President Franklin Roosevelt authorized $2 billion in funding for what came to be known as the Manhattan Project. The first nuclear weapon test took place on July 16, 1945, at the Trinity site near Alamogordo, New Mexico. A few weeks later, on August 6, 1945, with the U.S. at war against Japan, President Harry Truman authorized the dropping of an atomic bomb named Little Boy over Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, on August 9, a nuclear bomb called Fat Man was dropped over Nagasaki. Two hundred thousand people, according to some estimates, were killed in the attacks on the two cities and on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers. 1957’s Operation Plumbbob took place at a time when the U.S. was engaged in a Cold War and nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. In 1963, the U.S. signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere, underwater and outer space. A total of 928 tests took place at the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1992, when the U.S. conducted its last underground nuclear test. In 1996, the U.S signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits nuclear detonations in all environments. […]

  • Ötzi the Iceman Is Discovered by German Tourists (1991)
    on September 19, 2017 at 5:00 am

    In 1991, two hikers discovered a well-preserved corpse trapped in ice near the border between Austria and Italy. It proved to be that of a man who lived about 5,300 years ago—making it the oldest natural mummy ever found. He was nicknamed Ötzi, for the Ötztal Alps where he was found. Also recovered were clothes, shoes, tools, weapons, fire-starting materials, and medicine. Scientists have since determined that Ötzi ate about eight hours before his death. What did he eat, and how did he die? Discuss […]

  • First Issue of the New-York Daily Times, now The New York Times, Is Printed (1851)
    on September 18, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Originally sold for a penny a copy, the New-York Daily Times was founded by journalist and politician Henry Jarvis Raymond in 1851 and has been controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family since 1896. The paper shortened its name to The New York Times in 1857. Perhaps the most respected newspaper in the world, it has been awarded more Pulitzer Prizes than any other. In 2006, the newspaper announced that it would save how much money by narrowing its page width by 1.5 inches (4 cm)? […]

  • The Battle of Antietam (1862)
    on September 17, 2017 at 5:00 am

    In September 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee crossed the Potomac River to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. He was met by Union General George McClellan. The resulting Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland, was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a total of 23,000 casualties. It was a Union victory only in the sense that Lee's invasion was stopped. McClellan was later removed from command and was faulted for failing to act on what crucial opportunity? […]