On This Day, August 16th

1. 1977: “The King” Elvis Presley passed away

Thousands upon thousands of fans flock to the gates of Graceland on this date in 1977 when word got out that the “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley had passed away. At the young age of 42, it was determined that he had a heart attack which many felt was due to problems caused by his heavy use of prescription pills. When Elvis hit the scene in 1955, he began on a career path that most musicians could only dream of. But all that success must have weighed heavy upon him and by the mid 1970s he began a major downward spiral. He reportedly gained a significant amount of weight and, overall, his physical and mental health rapidly deteriorated. He was buried at Graceland where fans from all over the world could come and pay their respects.

2. 1896: Gold is found in the Klondike

George Carmack posing with his wife and child Photo: source

George Carmack posing with his wife and child
Photo: source

George Carmack had no idea that when he left his house to go salmon fishing  he would stumble upon something that would change the world forever. The famed fishing trip took place on this date in 1896 with two of his Tagish Indian freinds on Rabbit Creek, which was a tributary to the Klondike river located in the Yukon Territory of Canada. Although Carmack wasn’t a full time prospector, he had heard there might be gold in the area so he would occasionally run a few pans of dirt. On this particular day, he happened upon a good size nugget sticking up out of the bank. Later on it was reported that the two Tagish men claimed that one of them had found the nugget while washing a dishpan as Carmack was taking a nap. Regardless of who found it, word spread fast and soon the Klondike gold rush was in full swing. It was reported that Carmack left the area with more than $1 million in gold and left to retire in Vancouver B.C.

3. 1984: Automaker John DeLorean found not guilty on drug smuggling charges.

You may recognize this car as the time machine built by Doc Brown in the Back to the Future film series. It is, of course, the DeLorean, even though officially it went by the name DMC-12, nobody called it that. It was built by John Z DeLorean, who had made a name for himself as one of the creators of the famous Pontiac GTO and later moved his way up to become one of the youngest leaders of the Chevrolet brand. In 1973, he resigned to start his own car company with the investment help of very famous friends like Sammy Davis Jr and Johnny Carson. In 1981, he opened the DeLorean factory in Dunmurry, Ireland where he would make the DMC-12 and sell them for $25,000. However, things weren’t going well and just a year later the British Government stepped in and shut down the whole operation, mainly because they had also been a very hefty investor. The same day the factory was closed, DeLorean himself was arrested in Los Angeles on charges of drug smuggling. He had apparently been in contact with a former FBI informant and got involved bringing cocaine into the country in an attempt to save his company from going under. His trial was highly publicized and DeLorean maintained his defense that he had been set up by the government in an entrapment-type situation. On this date in 1984, the L.A. Jury came back with a verdict of not guilty.