As this series develops I hope to be able, where the events of the day allow, to present a “main feature” i.e. a story in some detail supported by a list of “lesser” happenings that are worthy of note. But I am at the mercy of history and this may not always be possible.
The following events occurred on this day in history:
1848: Gold is discovered by James W. Marshall, a foreman working at Sutter’s Mill on the American River in Coloma, 130 miles to the north east of San Francisco, triggering the influx of 300,000 prospectors seeking their fortune and transforming the city from a small town into a booming, bawdy metropolis.
Doubts persisted for some time whether the small, golden nugget that had made Marshall’s “heart thump” as it was more the colour of brass than the customary reddish-tinged gold found elsewhere. A few tests revived his confidence that he had struck gold, though it was not until March before the rumours were confirmed for all in San Francisco to hear. That story will be be recounted on the relevant day.
1980: Just before 11am a powerful, rolling earthquake centred ten miles to the north west of Livermore and measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, hit, destroying the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a major storage depot for nuclear materials. Forty four people were injured and the estimated property damage was $11.5 million.
It was felt over a large area of central California and parts of western Nevada and was followed by 59 aftershocks in the next six days and a second principal earthquake on 27th of the month.
1982: The San Francisco 49ers won Superbowl XVI by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 in cold, snowy conditions at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The treacherous roads leading to the stadium caused the 49ers motorcade to be delayed, though the team arrived in time for the kick off.
Joe Montana, in only his third season, was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, and also rushing for 18 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Bengals were the first team in Super Bowl history to lose the game whilst accumulating the most yards and touchdowns.
Nearly thirty years on the game remains one of the most watched broadcasts in American TV history, pulling in 85 million viewers.