1. November, 1860
Missouri resident Valentine Tapley made national news during President Lincoln’s campaign. Mr. Tapley declared that he would forgo shaving for the rest of his life if Lincoln was elected. He kept his word, and let his beard grow from 1860 until his death in 1910 - when his beard measured 12 feet six inches.
2. April 30 - December 1, 1904
St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair on a 1,200-acre campus. The fair offered exhibitions from 50 countries and drew crowds of 19,694,855 people. Several new foods were unveiled during the fair, including the ice cream cone, iced tea and cotton candy.
3. Summer, 1904
St. Louis hosted the Summer Olympics, which ran concurrently with the World’s Fair. The games didn’t go quite as planned. In particular, the marathon was chaotic. About half of the runners dropped out due to heat stroke. The first man across the finish line actually got a lift in a car from mile 9 to mile 19. Thomas Hicks, who drank brandy laced with rat poison to provide a boost to his nervous system, was declared the winner (though his trainers had to physically support him to the finish line).
4. March 1, 1912
Albert Berry became the first person in the country to jump from a fixed-wing airplane with a parachute. The jump was somewhat traumatic. Berry said, “Never again! I believe I turned five somersaults on my way down … My course downward … was like a crazy arrow.” He must have recovered from his trauma, though...he jumped again on March 10th.
5. March 18, 1925
The deadly Tri-State Tornado that hit Missouri, Illinois and Indiana put our state in the headlines. The town of Annapolis was almost completely destroyed. 695 Missourians died, and another 2,700 were injured in what remains as the most deadly tornado in U.S. history.
Bagnell Dam was completed in 1931. Not only did the dam create Lake of the Ozarks, it also created thousands of jobs following the crash of the stock market.
7. September 22, 1954
The evening of September 22, 1954, two inmates at the Missouri State Penitentiary pretended to be ill to draw attention from the guards. They then overpowered the guards, beating them badly and stealing their keys. Soon, the prison was overrun by escaped inmates, who destroyed the cafeteria and set the prison shops on fire. At the end of the riots, four inmates were dead and 50 were injured. Four officers were injured, and damages were estimated around $5 million.
8. October 28, 1965
The Gateway Arch was completed in October of 1865, after many delays. It was dedicated on May 5, 1968. Though more than 250,000 were expected to attend, hardly anyone showed up due to heavy rain.
9. April - October, 1993
The Great Flood of 1993 was one of the most expensive in our country’s history, with damages estimated in the billions. Jefferson City was partially flooded. The St. Louis floodwall protected that city from certain flooding - the river was at its highest level there in 228 years.
10. October 28, 2011
The whole country was watching the 2011 World Series - with its back-and-forth games and nail-biting scores. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in game 7 - the first time since 2002 that the series had gone to the 7th game.