1. 1970: Janis Joplin passed away
It was on this date in 1970 that the world lost a musical legend when Janis Joplin was found dead in her hotel room in Los Angeles at the young age of 27. Joplin apparently didn’t show up for a scheduled recording session, which was somewhat uncommon for her even though she was known to be heavily involved in the party scene. It was that love of everything “sex, drugs and rock and roll” that eventually ended what could have been a very promising career in the music business. The cause of death was reported to be an accidental heroin overdose. Joplin had only started her musical career roughly four years prior and had put her name on the map after a spectacular performance at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival. Her iconic voice and passionate musical talents made her somewhat of an overnight success. Some people felt she was just loud and obnoxious, but in the eyes of most, she’s a legend and her music will live on forever.
2. 1957: The Soviet Union launched Sputnik
Fear spread through the United States like wildfire on this date in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite into space. The satellite, known as Sputnik, was part of an unmanned mission to send the fairly small device into space in order to better study the upper portions of the atmosphere. Americans were both terrified, and furious, that the Soviets had gotten so far ahead of the United States, which was believed to be the far more technically advanced country. Many believed that the Soviets had taken the upper hand in the “arms race” and that Sputnik was the first step towards weapons to be used from space. Even though Sputnik was only 22 inches in diameter and weighed in at approximately 185lbs, it was roughly 10 times the size of the satellite the United States was planning on using, and even that wasn’t scheduled until the following year. This was ultimately the beginning of the “Space Race” between these two super powers that would last for the next decade or more.
3. 1927: Construction begins on Mount Rushmore National Memorial
It was on this date in 1927 work began on what we know today as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. As you may already know, the memorial is carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The memorial was the brainchild of Doane Robinson, who was a historian of South Dakota and looking for a way to increase the tourist activity in hs home state. He hired a sculptor by the name of Gutzon Borglum to carve the faces of four U.S. Presidents into the massive granite face of Mount Rushmore. It wold take more than 12 years for the project to be completed and reportedly cost upwards of $1 million that was paid for by the federal government. The sculptures of the faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson are approximately 60ft tall taking at anywhere from 1-5 years to do each face. Washington was the first to be completed in 1934, then Jefferson in 1936. Lincoln was completed only a year later and Roosevelt was finally completed in 1939. Borglum had plans to outline the history of the United States in a series of inscriptions carved into mountain by the memorial. However, his unexpected death in 1941 prevented its completeion.