In 1732 – (285 years ago) – the armory at a castle in Campo Maior, Portugal — which contained some five thousand pieces of ammunition, and almost a hundred tons of gunpowder — was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. The explosion was spectacular, not only destroying the armory but starting a fire that caused major damage to the castle and its fortress, injuring most of its inhabitants.
In 1893 – (124 years ago) – one of the last large tracts of unassigned public land in the American West was opened for settlement in a land run at the so-called Cherokee Outlet in what is now the state of Oklahoma. The Cherokee nation had been pressured to sell the federal government six million acres of grazing land. On the morning of the land run, more than a hundred thousand people with horses and wagons prepared to race into the area to plant claim flags on some forty thousand surveyed and plotted homesteads. Some of the would-be settlers had been camping in the area for months — and though US Army troops tried to keep order, they failed to prevent a number of violators, later known as “Sooners,” from sneaking in before the noontime starting gun to grab the best plots of free land for themselves. In the manic chaos of the run, most participants failed to claim a plot. And of those who did, many would soon be disappointed to find that the dry, dusty land was no good for growing crops.
In 1977 – (40 years ago) — Marc Bolan, star of the British pop-rock band T. Rex, emerged at four in the morning from a long dinner with friends at a restaurant in London’s Berkeley Square. He was accompanied by his girlfriend, the American singer Gloria Jones. It had been a long day and evening, and Bolan had been drinking through most of it. He gave Jones the keys to his Mini GT, and they began the drive home. Neither Bolan nor Jones wore a seat belt. Less than a mile from Bolan’s house, Jones lost control of the car — which slid off the road, crashed into a steel-reinforced fence, and came to rest at the base of a sycamore tree. Both occupants were thrown from the car. Jones survived the accident, but Bolan’s skull was ripped open by a protruding bolt on a fencepost, and he died instantly — two weeks before what would have been his thirtieth birthday.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi