On This Day, December 6th
1. 1917: The Halifax explosion
It was on this date in 1917 that a massive explosion took place in the Halifax Harbor in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia that left more than 1,800 casualties and as many as 9,000 injured. It all started when a munitions ship called the Mont Blanc collided with another ship in the harbor, which sparked a blaze onboard both of the boats. To make matters worse, the other ship was also a munitions ship and there was said to be a total of 8 million tons of TNT between the two. Luckily most of the crew were able to get off the ship before the explosion. However, the blast was so massive that it could be heard from hundreds of miles away and the shock waves busted out windows as far as 50 miles away. Almost the entire north end of the city of Halifax was destroyed in the blast. It went down in history as the largest and most devastating manmade explosion to occur in the pre-atomic years. The blast was said to be so bright that people even miles away were actually blinded by the light.
2. 1976: Kitty O’Neil becomes the fastest woman on Earth
Kitty O’Neil was a one of a kind woman that wasn’t afraid to take a risk, not matter what it was. She was a professional stuntwoman that worked on iconic Hollywood films such as the Blues Brothers and Smokey and the Bandit doing many different things. By age 28, she had already worked her way to becoming an Olympic-level platform diver that would probably have competed in the Olympics had it not been for her bout with spinal meningitis that doctors felt would paralyze her. Not to mention two sets of cancer treatment and the fact that she was born blind. That didn’t stop her, or even slow her down. In fact, she worked her way into land speed racing and it was on this date in 1976 that O’Neil became the fastest women in the world by setting a record speed of 512.71mph. She did this at the Alvord Desert in Oregon using a three-wheeled vehicle called “The Motivator” which was powered by a hydrogen peroxide. The Motivator was capable of much more, in fact, some reports say O’Neil set the record using only 60% of the power available and had actually reached speeds will over 600mph. However, this was in a time where America was still “old fashioned” and no man was going to let a woman beat the overall record. Movie director Hal Needham actually paid $25,000 to be the one behind the wheel of the Motivator to set the actual record. After Kitty beat the woman’s record, Needham threw a fit and demanded that she be pulled from the car to prevent her from breaking the record. Who knows maybe its Karma, but it actually started to snow which ended the land speed season and Needham never made it behind the wheel.
3. 1992: The legendary Jerry Rice sets TD reception record
Jerry Rice is a true legend in the National Football League, having set numerous records over his long career. It was on this date in 1992 that Steve Young threw a 12-yard pass to Rice in the end zone, which was a fairly common thing. However, this touchdown was special because it was Rice’s 101st, which made him the all-time leader for most career touchdowns that was previously held by the great Steve Largent with 100. Interestingly, this was only Rice’s eighth season in the NFL and it took Largent 14 seasons to put up the same numbers. Just two years later, Jerry went on to set the overall touchdown record when he surpassed the former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown.