July 18, 1955: Disneyland Opens to the Public!

David MacPherson, a 22-year-old student, arrived at Disneyland about midnight on July 17, 1955. The amusement park was holding a public grand opening the next morning and MacPherson wanted to be the first in line. He waited alone in the dark through the night, determined to be the first person to buy a ticket and enter the park. By dawn, the line had grown to 6,000 people, but MacPherson maintained his spot at the front. On the morning of July 18, 1955, Walt Disney arrived to greet guests at his new amusement park. He picked two children from the back of the line and allowed them to enter the park for free. Macpherson’s long night paid off, and he purchased the first ticket to enter Disneyland. After years of planning and preparation, Disneyland opened for the first time 65 years ago this month.

Walt Disney dreamed of creating a park that would delight children and adults alike. He started creating sketches of Disneyland as far back as 1932. Using the proceeds from successful movies like Snow White, Disney began formulating plans for an amusement park. He hired the Stanford Research Institute to investigate possible sites, attendance expectancy, and cost. Artists created thousands of sketches and architects worked feverishly on blueprints. A 1953 illustrated map of what Disneyland might look like sold for $708,000 at a 2017 auction! When the Stanford Research Institute recommended Anaheim as the best site for the park, Disney purchased a 160-acre orange grove and construction began.

The Sacramento Bee – July 16, 1955
Longview News-Journal – June 28, 2017

As opening day approached, the highly anticipated park was called a modern “Wonder of the World.” One paper reported that “never in history has any attraction, including World Fairs, ever received so much advance publicity…and worldwide attention.” Tickets to enter Disneyland cost $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. Parking cost 25 cents a day and the overall cost to build the park was $17 million.

Some 50,000 visitors flocked to Disneyland on opening day. Cars backed up for miles on the Santa Ana Freeway and the parking lot was filled to capacity by 10:00 a.m., leaving hundreds of cars waiting in line. David MacPherson walked around the park for a little while that first day, before heading back to campus to attend a class without riding a single ride. Although he was allowed to keep that first ticket as a souvenir, he sold it for 50 cents after leaving the park to buy gas to get home.

MacPherson’s night at the ticket booth, however, came with a big reward. He was given a lifetime pass to Disneyland. Each January he receives an annual pass for four which covers admissions, free parking, and rides.

Nearly 20 million visitors visit Disneyland each year. Do you remember your first visit to the park? Read more about the opening of Disneyland on Newspapers.com today!

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New Papers from Miami and Raleigh!

Our archives are expanding again! We’ve added new newspapers from Miami, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina, bringing wonderful new content from the Southern United States.

The Miami Herald – September 20, 1926

The Miami Herald: In 1891, a woman named Julia Tuttle left Cleveland after the death of her husband. She purchased 640 acres in what is present-day downtown Miami and persuaded a railroad magnate to extend the rail lines south to Miami. Miami was incorporated in 1896, with a population of just over 300, and The Miami Herald began publication in 1910. Initially published six times a week, it became a daily in 1913. Our digital archives date back to 1911 and chronicle the growth of southern Florida.  

In 1926, an intense hurricane brought death and destruction to Miami. For days leading up to the Miami Hurricane, meteorologists warned that a storm was brewing, but didn’t think it would make landfall. The first storm warnings were issued on September 18, 1926. The Miami Herald was unable to publish a paper on the 19th, but on September 20th, the Palm Beach Post allowed the Miami Herald use of its publishing facilities and the paper reported that Miami suffered “the worst disaster in its history” with more than 10,000 homes damaged or destroyed. The famous Art Deco District sprung up during the era of post-hurricane re-development.

In 1959 Fidel Castro rose to power and hundreds of thousands of Cubans emigrated to Miami. The Spanish-speaking population burgeoned and in 1975, the Herald created a Spanish insert called El Miami Herald. It featured Spanish translations of the stories in the Herald. Pleased with the success, the paper decided to launch a separate Spanish newspaper and in 1987, El Nuevo Herald began publication.

Search the pages of Herald for news on Miami residents, obituaries, marriage and divorce news, birth announcements, and more. Stories like anniversary announcements can also contain a wealth of genealogical information.

The News and Observer: Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the progressive, Pulitzer Prize-winning News and Observer has played an influential role in the history of the city and state, particularly in terms of political issues. Our archives date back to 1880, about the time that then-Governor Thomas J. Jarvis used the pages of the paper to advocate for the building of a proper Governor’s Mansion to conduct state business. The public agreed and construction began. Jarvis’s predecessor, Governor Daniel G. Fowle, was the first to occupy the mansion, though it was short-lived when he died unexpectedly just months later.

The News and Observer – June 1, 1890

In 1884, a group of young men, all under the age of 30, established a group called the Watauga Club. They promoted educational, agricultural, and industrial development in the state. In 1887, the club was the driving force behind a new college in Raleigh. Construction got underway, and in October 1889, North Carolina State University opened as the College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. The college aimed to provide an education for the children of farmers, mechanics, and other workers.

The News and Observer – December 23, 1887

The Observer supported women suffrage and reported on the efforts of the suffrage movement under leader Cornelia Petty Jerman. Jerman was at the forefront of the movement in North Carolina and was the first woman to serve as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention. At the time of her death in 1946, the News and Observer called her the “State’s First Woman.”

The News and Observer is a wonderful resource if you have ancestors from North Carolina. Search for your family in articles like family reunion notices, society pages, and marriage announcements. Start searching the pages of The Miami Herald and The News and Observer today on Newspapers.com.

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Before Ellis Island: Entering America Through Castle Garden 1855-1890

Since the founding of America, millions of people hoping for a brighter future left their home countries and immigrated to the United States. The number of immigrants increased dramatically after the Civil War with nearly 12 million arriving between 1870-1900. More than 70% of all immigrants entered through New York City. Castle Garden opened in 1855 as the primary immigration processing center and operated as such until Ellis Island’s opening in 1892 (though from 1890-1892, the center was moved to the U.S. Barge Office). We’ve scoured our newspaper archives to find the stories behind some of those immigrants’ arrivals.

Castle Garden Opens August 1, 1855 as “Emigrant Landing Depot”

The Arrival Experience: This story, published in 1855 described the arrival experience for immigrants. They registered their names, recorded the amount of money they carried, and were shown to a bathhouse where up to 24 bathed at the same time.

The Boston Globe – September 6, 1884

Children Traveling Alone: Like many families, the Slinsbys’ couldn’t afford passage for the entire family at the same time. In 1884, Maggie and Mary, 9 and 10-years-old, arrived at Castle Garden with their names painted on heavy cardboard signs attached with a “profusion of green ribbons” to their bodies. They were reunited with their parents in Ohio. In 1887, Irish immigrants living in Cleveland were finally able to send for their children who had been staying with a grandmother. Castle Garden sent a telegraph to their parents informing them that after a rough and stormy journey, the two children, ages 9 and 11, had arrived safely. In this clipping, the Superintendent at Castle Garden tagged three children after their arrival and shipped them to their father who was living in Chicago. This 1887 clipping tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who arrived at Castle Garden from Ireland. Her mother and two brothers left her in the care of nuns until they could afford to pay for her passage to join them six years later. This final clipping tells the story of a mother desperately searching for her daughters after they arrived at Castle Garden. We’re so anxious to learn what became of them, but we can’t find any follow-up stories (maybe one of you genealogical sleuths can help).

New-York Tribune – June 14, 1884

Beware of Swindlers: Sometimes unscrupulous individuals preyed upon new immigrants. Language barriers, poverty, and fear left many immigrants vulnerable. In this clipping, a swindler sold railroad tickets to several immigrants who later learned the tickets were fraudulent. This sad story tells the tale of an immigrant who showed up at Castle Garden hoping to find a way back to Hungary after he lost his fortune of $500 in America. 

Reunion with Loved Ones: In 1890, a woman from Russia arrived at Castle Garden to reunite with her sweetheart who arrived two years earlier and sent money for her passage. The journey took more than a month and her funds ran out. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, she finally made her way to Minnesota. Read her story here. In another instance, a Prussian man prepared for the arrival of his wife and five children in 1897. He rented a home in Maryland and purchased some furniture, but sadly suffered a fatal fall just hours after they reunited. This final clipping tells the story of Michael O’Brien, an Irish immigrant, who left his family to seek his fortune in America. He sent letters and money until one day when communication suddenly ceased. His worried wife and four children sailed for America, arriving at Castle Garden in 1878. The determined woman searched for O’Brien, only to learn that he had remarried and had another child. He undoubtedly had some explaining to do.

Do you have ancestors that arrived at Castle Garden? Use historic newspapers to learn about their experiences. Search Newspapers.com today!

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June 6, 1933: The Era of Drive-In Movies Begins

A summer night spent at the drive-in brings nostalgic feelings for millions of Americans who grew up listening to the tinny sound coming from the speaker hooked to the car window at their local drive-in theater. On June 6, 1933, the world’s first drive-in theater opened in Camden, New Jersey. This revolutionary concept transformed automobiles into “private theatre boxes” allowing guests to “smoke, chat, or even partake of refreshments.”

The Morning Call – Allentown, Pennsylvania 06.04.1933

Richard Hollingshead, Jr., the inventor of the drive-in theater, developed the idea during the midst of the depression. He was out of work but figured there were two things people weren’t willing to give up – their cars and going to the movies. He tested his concept by setting up a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his family car and projecting pictures onto a screen nailed to a tree in his yard.

Courier-Post – Camden, New Jersey 06.09.1985

Pleased with the results, Hollingshead sought financial backing from his cousin and opened the first drive-in theater. Patrons paid $1 per car or 25 cents per person. Speakers were mounted atop the 60-foot screen but didn’t provide very good sound. It would take years to improve the sound problem at the drive-in. Hollingsworth’s theater design included concentric, curved rows titled at a five-degree angle to ensure that everyone had a good view of the screen.

The novelty of watching a movie from your own car was a draw for families who could put the children to sleep in the back seat and enjoy a movie. Viewing a movie from your car also didn’t require you to dress up, a common practice when attending the theater in that era. The problematic sound issue and a depressed economy kept the idea of drive-ins from spreading for the rest of the decade, but after WWII the era of the drive-in movie theater entered its golden age. More than 4,500 drive-in theaters opened between 1948-1955.

Covina Argus – Covina, California 08.25.1950

During the 1950s and ‘60s, the drive-in also became the quintessential teen hangout. Teenagers loved having a place to congregate and socialize with their friends. Drive-in theaters provided an evening of fun at an affordable price.

By the 1970s, the popularity of the drive-in waned. The 1980s brought an explosion of VHS tapes and movie rentals. The transition to digital projection also provided a challenge for theater owners because of the steep price tag at a time when attendance was down. As a result, many theaters began to shut down. Increased land values also pressured many owners to sell their property for development.

Today, there are somewhere around 330 drive-in theaters remaining in the U.S. During recent months, some of those theaters have experienced an unexpected revival, offering families an evening out during social distancing. Do you remember attending the drive-in when you were young? To learn more about the history of drive-in theaters, search Newspapers.com today!

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New Papers from Fort Worth, Texas!

If you have ancestors from Texas or an interest in the Old West, we are pleased to announce that we’ve once again partnered with McClatchy, the second-largest local news company in the U.S., to add the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to our archives. Included in this collection are other historic Fort Worth papers including the Fort Worth Record-Telegram 1912-1931; the Fort Worth Record and Register 1897-1912; and the Daily Fort Worth Standard 1876-1877.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was founded in 1909 when the Fort Worth Star merged with the Fort Worth Telegram. This archive has chronicled the growth of Fort Worth for nearly 150 years!

At a time when the American frontier expanded westward, settlers moved into the Fort Worth area in the 1840s. They met with local Native American chiefs and established a treaty where Native Americans would remain west of a line drawn through present-day Fort Worth. The line would mark, “Where the West Begins” – Fort Worth’s famous slogan that is still found on the masthead of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today.

The front page of The Fort Worth Telegram chronicles devastation after the 1908 Messina earthquake and tsunami

In 1849, construction began on a fort, one in a line of military outposts meant to establish control over North Texas and protect settlers from Native American attacks. The fort was named after Maj. Gen. Williams Jenkins Worth and soon a small community of civilians sprang up in the area.

Daily Fort Worth Standard – May 12, 1877

Ranching has long played a part in the history of Fort Worth and ranchers herded millions of cattle along the Chisholm Trail. Our newspaper archive dates back to 1876, the year the first railroad came to town and helped establish Fort Worth as a center of the cattle trade.  

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – February 8, 1920

With all the cattle being driven through Fort Worth, the meatpacking industry developed in the late 1800s, bringing jobs in packing houses. The Texas oil boom brought additional growth to Fort Worth. In 1917, workers drilling for oil in Ranger, Texas, hit a gusher. More oil nearby discoveries followed, and Fort Worth’s strategic location meant that speculators, promoters, and interested parties set up offices in the Westbrook Hotel lobby bringing throngs of people to the city. Advertisements selling oil leases filled the pages of the Star-Telegram as many sought their fortune.

In the early days of radio, the Star-Telegram’s founding publisher, Amon G. Carter, started an experimental radio station WBAP. A ringing cowbell signaled listeners that their program was about to start. That cowbell was the first audible logo broadcast over the radio. The station broadcast livestock reports, rodeos, and even church services. In 1948, the Star-Telegram expanded its reach again and established the first television station in the southern half of the United States.  

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – December 24, 1922

In 1982, in a time before readers consumed information online, the Star-Telegram pioneered another way to deliver news when they began StarText. StarText was a subscription service that delivered the latest news, stock quotes, and classified ads 24 hours a day via home computer and modem.

If you are researching your ancestors from Fort Worth, there are countless stories about challenges faced by early settlers in Texas. Severe weather, snake bites, heat and humidity, and life in the wild west where six-shooters ruled were just a few. Be sure to search for birth announcements, wedding announcements, death notices, news about family reunions, and more. Start searching the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Newspapers.com today!

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Memorial Day 1945

On May 30, 1945, the United States celebrated a Memorial Day full of conflicting emotions. The euphoria over the recently declared Allied victory in Europe brought hope to this war-beleaguered nation. There was also optimism that the war in Japan was winding down, bringing an end to WWII.

Fort Lauderdale Daily News – May 30, 1945

On the other hand, millions mourned their war dead, many soldiers were still missing or being held POW, and the country was reeling from the sudden death of wartime president Franklin D. Roosevelt weeks earlier. Let’s take a look at some historic newspaper clippings from Memorial Day 1945 to see how Americans honored their veterans.

Tucson, Arizona: Four-year-old Betty Jo Pacheco laid a wreath on the grave of her father, Pvt. Robert M. Pacheco, who was killed three months earlier in Germany. She was surrounded by veterans of four wars, including 105-year-old Civil War veteran Francis Mengoz.

Arizona Daily Star – May 31, 1945

Wilmington, Delaware: Memorial Day headlines brought happy news to Delawareans when The News Journal reported that seven POWs from Delaware had just been freed.

Munich, Germany: In Munich, American flags flew as soldiers from the 45th Infantry Division gathered at Konigsplatz to hear Memorial Day remarks from American military leaders. The square was the scene of an elite military parade several years earlier for Hitler and Mussolini.

Columbus, Indiana: Even with the war winding down, some were still being called to serve. On May 30, 1945, the Columbus Herald reported that William H. Burton had just been drafted into the Navy. The father of five served six months before being discharged.

Okinawa, Japan: There was intense fighting on Okinawa, and Marines from the First Marine Division moved towards Shuri ridge. Richard P. Ross, who had been aboard the USS Oklahoma when she sank at Pearl Harbor, braved sniper fire and hoisted a flag above a medieval fortress called Shuri Castle

San Pedro, California: In California, the San Pedro News-Pilot published a photograph of the fresh graves around the world and spoke of the millions of heartsick Americans. The paper noted that even though it was a holiday, work continued in war plants and government offices.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Capt. Joseph T. Marnell, serving in a medical detachment, sent a letter to his wife back home. It was printed on Adolf Hitler’s stationery and read, “You can see by this very personal stationery that conditions have improved some. I picked this up in Adolf’s private apartment in Munich when we arrived recently.”

Chicago Tribune – May 28, 1945

Rochester, New York: Sgt. James Ecksten, who had just been discharged from the war, rode alongside his great-grandfather, Civil War veteran William A. Hard, in the Memorial Day parade.

To see more headlines from Memorial Day 1945, search Newspapers.com today!

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Find Your WWII Soldier’s Story in Newspapers!

On May 8th, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, the formal acceptance of Germany’s unconditional surrender in Europe. To honor the legacy of our WWII soldiers, we want to help you tell their story. Historical newspapers are a great way to research your WWII veteran. Here are some tips and tricks for researching your soldier’s story in Newspapers.com.

  1. Begin your search by name. Just enter your soldier’s name in the search tab. You can narrow the results by refining dates, locations, or keywords. Maybe the local paper ran a story about your soldier enlisting. This can provide valuable clues about which branch of the service your soldier served in. You might even learn what regiment or company he or she belonged to. Hometown newspapers often reported when a local soldier was injured or killed, home on leave, or discharged. If multiple siblings served from one family, search all names, including the parents. Newspapers often include photographs of soldiers too. If you don’t find your soldier in a name search, don’t despair, there are some other tricks!
  2. Search for specific battles. If you know your soldier fought in a specific battle, use that battle as your search keyword. You might not find your soldier specifically mentioned, but others provided first-hand accounts. These details can help you construct a story.
  3. Search by battalion, division, company, name of a Navy ship, etc. Did your soldier’s company/battalion have a famous nickname? Or do you know the name of the commanding officer? These searches can also provide valuable results. Newspapers tracked the movements of our soldiers and reported daily on skirmishes and battles. You can create a timeline of your soldier’s movements by tracking those stories.
  4. Search by date. If you have records showing your soldier was wounded or killed on a specific date, search for battles fought at that same time and place.
  5. Search by location. Do you know, for example, that your soldier was part of the Japanese occupation force? Use that in your search term. When we searched that term and filtered the dates from 1944-1947, it returned more than 300,000 search results. Do you have a Navy veteran that served in the Solomon Islands? You could search “Asiatic-Pacific Theater”. The more details you have, the more you can narrow your search.
  6. Personal interviews. Over the years, many of our WWII veterans have given lengthy interviews in newspapers. These first-hand narratives provide amazing insight into what our soldiers experienced. Expand your search beyond the war years, some of these soldiers didn’t share their story for decades.
  7. Search the names of fellow soldiers. Do you have records, photographs, or journals that mention the names of soldiers that served with your ancestor? Research those soldier’s names for more detail.
  8. Search post-war clubs and associations. Many soldiers joined clubs, fraternal organizations, and associations after returning from their service. For example, the American Legion changed its charter after WWII to allow returning soldiers to join its ranks.
  9. Search obituaries. Often the families of deceased soldiers shared details and stories of their military service in their obituaries, even decades later. Even if you are not related to this person, their obituary may shed light on your own ancestor’s service.

Preserving the story of our WWII veterans is a great way to honor their service! Please share your finds in the comments below. Get started searching your WWII veteran on Newspapers.com today!

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New California Paper!

Sacramento is the capital city of California and we’re happy to announce that we’re adding The Sacramento Bee to our archives. The Bee is the longest-running newspaper in Sacramento’s history and the flagship paper of McClatchy, the second-largest local news company in the U.S. James McClatchy was an Irish immigrant and young journalist when the lure of the California Gold Rush brought him West. He became the second editor of The Bee, taking over just days after the paper began publication in 1857.

California was part of Mexican territory until the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo annexed California as part of the United States. In 1848, when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, about 45 miles outside of Sacramento, thousands converged in the area. Many of them passed through Sacramento and the city experienced tremendous growth.

When The Bee began publishing in 1857, McClatchy aimed to provide an independent newspaper that championed the interests of the people. The paper recorded the growth of this area, including celebrating the starting point for the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1863.

When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, residents of Sacramento felt the shaking and observed the dome of the Capitol building sway back and forth. The front page of The Bee contained numerous updates throughout the morning as the extent of the damage became more clear.

April 18, 1906

During the Great Depression, high unemployment rates resulted in a rising rate of homelessness in the city. Some destitute families banded together and formed tent cities called Hoovervilles, named after President Hoover, whom they blamed for their economic situation. Although not officially recognized, these shantytowns located along the Sacramento River were overseen by elected officials and city charters. The cities, however, lacked systems for waste removal and officials found residents living in squalor and ordered them closed. Though evicted, some continued to camp out along the river throughout the 1930s.

Residents of Hooverville Seek Food – October 7, 1931

The Sacramento Valley’s fertile soil brought many farm workers to the area. In 1965, Filipino American grape workers organized a strike to protest poor pay and working conditions. The protestors joined forces with Latino farm workers led by Cesar Chavez. Together they walked 300 miles to Sacramento to raise awareness and pressure growers into changes. The two groups formed the United Farm Workers. Their strike lasted five years but eventually led to growers agreeing to better pay and working conditions for all farm workers.

If you have ancestors from the Sacramento area, The Bee is a great place to search for things like obituaries, birth announcements, wedding announcements, and death notices. The social pages also tracked news from communities like Napa and Chico. Start searching The Sacramento Bee archives today on Newspapers.com!

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Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story

Occasionally we come across an old newspaper story that is so amazing, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really true. This story about Civil War soldier Otis H. Burton seems to fall into that category. After a little fact-checking, however, all available records seem to support this sweet love story. With all the heavy news lately, sit back and enjoy this 19th-century tale with miraculous twists and a happy ending!

Otis H. Burton was born in Bangor, Maine in 1837. As a young man, he decided to move west and seek his fortune. He ended up in Missouri where he fell in love with an accomplished young woman named Susan Mary Payne. Before he had a chance to profess his love to her, she moved to another state. They soon lost touch.  

About this time, the Civil War broke out and Otis enlisted in the 25th Missouri Regiment of the Union Army. While serving in the war, he was severely wounded and not expected to survive. He wrote a farewell letter to his mother but against all odds, he eventually recovered. After feeling well enough to rejoin his regiment, Otis joined them on a mission to transport supplies across the plains. During the journey, a band of Native Americans attacked the party, killing everyone in the company except for Otis, who received severe wounds.

Otis was taken prisoner and led back to the tribe’s mountain home in the Southwest. He gradually recovered from his wounds, adapted to his new surroundings, and started to gain the trust of his captors. All the while he was looking for an opportunity to escape.

One day, after about six months in captivity, tribe members returned to camp with several stolen ponies. Otis observed the horses and noticed one that was of a high breed and showed promise for speed and endurance. Otis cared for the horse, petting and feeding the animal. Eventually, they allowed him to ride the horse.

During one ride, Otis ventured out further than usual. Seizing the opportunity, he took off at top speed, riding furiously with his captors in close pursuit. Finally evading them, Otis rode hard for three days before finally clearing hostile territory.

In the distance, Otis saw smoke rising from the chimney of a small house. He shouted for joy, glad to finally be free. He approached the house and made his way to the door. After knocking, the door opened and there stood Susan Mary Payne, his love from Missouri. After the initial shock, Susan shared her story. She had married a Confederate officer, Joseph L. Robey, who was killed during the war. She was now living alone. Otis shared his story and the two happily reunited. They started to rebuild the relationship began so many years earlier in Missouri.  

In 1870, Otis and Susan married and lived out their lives in Texas. Otis passed away in 1898. To see more stories like this, search Newspapers.com today!

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April 29, 1903: The Frank Slide

In the pre-dawn hours of April 29, 1903, a huge landslide broke loose from Turtle Mountain in Alberta, Canada. Residents in the town of Frank heard rumbling and wondered if there had been an explosion in a nearby coal mine. Within minutes, approximately 90 million tons of limestone crashed down, entombing more than 90 of the town’s residents under 150 feet of boulders.

Calgary Herald – April 6, 1906

Turtle Mountain is located in a picturesque section of Crowsnest Pass in southwest Alberta. In the 1880s, settlers discovered a seam of coal in the area. In 1901, American entrepreneurs Henry Frank and Sam Gebo opened a coal mine, and shortly after the town of Frank became the first incorporated village in the Pass. By 1903, 1000 people lived in Frank and a dozen nearby coal mines were operating.

Coal miners honeycombed tunnels through Turtle Mountain without realizing that they were further weakening the already unstable geological structure of the mountain. Layers of sedimentary rock had been tilted to almost vertical over time and erosion in the lower part of the mountain created a dangerous overhang of rock on top. For millennia, water seeped into cracks in the rock. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles caused the cracks to widen, creating more instability.

When the residents of Frank went to bed the night of April 28, 1903, they had no idea of the power of nature about to be unleashed in their town. At 4:10 a.m. on the morning of April 29th, a loud rumbling awakened them. The sound was reportedly heard by residents living nearly 100 miles away. An avalanche of rock broke free from the mountain and careened down, traveling over 180 miles per hour. It reached the valley floor in just 100 seconds

The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia – December 14, 1946

George Hie was a miner in Frank and recalled hearing a cracking noise coming from the mine about two weeks before the slide. “The pressure was so great at this place that a six-inch timber was broken,” he said. The morning the Frank Slide broke loose, Hie was sleeping in his bunk. “I was thrown violently out by pressure. I ran outside and was startled to see a gigantic mountain passing down only twenty-five feet away from me.” After the dust settled, Hie saw the corner of a house protruding from the rocks. He heard a cry for help and frantically helped dig out a trapped woman. Her two children died. Later, Hie found the bodies of two boys about 200 feet from their cabin. “They were clad in pajamas. Their bodies never had a mark on them.” Hie wondered if they had time to run or if the force of the blast carried them there. 

The Vancouver Sun – August 12, 1944

Three young girls were among the survivors, dug out alive hours after the slide. Sadly, their parents and brothers perished in the disaster. The three sisters were adopted by separate families and reunited for the first time in 41 years in 1944. The bodies of most of those killed remain buried under tons of rock in Frank, and the scar from the rockslide serves as a visible reminder of the tragedy that occurred 117 years ago this month.

If you would like to learn more about the Frank Slide, search Newspapers.com today!

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