Missions in 1812
Santa Barbara Mission and Mission La Purisima were severely damaged by an earthquake. It was estimated at around 7.0 on the Richter Scale, possibly triggered by the recent Wrightwood earthquake.
Overland Journeys in 1846
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Milt. got back last night from Donners’ camp [with] sad news. Jake Donno [Jacob Donner], Sam Shoemaker, Rinehart, & Smith are dead; the rest of them in a low situation. Snowed all night with a strong S.W. wind. To day Cloudy. Wind continues but not snowing. Thawing sun shining dimly. In hopes it will clear off.”
Education in 1909
The first junior high school in California opened in Berkeley; Willard Middle School.
Movies in 1914
“Tillie’s Punctured Romance” debuted, Keystone Film Company’s first feature-length film and only the Keystone Cops comedy featuring Charlie Chaplin.
Movies in 1932
“Flying Down to Rio,” the first film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, was released. They became legendary dance partners in a series of ten films.
Movies in 1933
Fox Films extended its contract with 5-year-old Shirley Temple, one of the great child stars. She was paid $150/week and Gertrude, her mother, was hired at $25/week as her hairdresser and personal coach.
Movies in 1937
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the first full-length animated film, premiered. It was the first in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
Movies in 1946
Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” premiered. The Christmas fantasy comedy drama, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed became a holiday classic.
Sports in 1995
San Francisco Giants announced plans to build a new stadium to open in 2000. The opening game on April 11, 2000 was against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Business in 2012
The Walt Disney Company, in Burbank, completed acquisition of Lucasfilm, in San Francisco, and the Star Wars franchise for $4.05 billion.
Ranchos in 1844
Rancho Johnson, a 22,197-acre Mexican land grant in Yuba County, was deeded. It stretched along the Bear River, and encompassed modern Wheatland.
Overland Journeys in 1846
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Snowed all last night. Continued to snow all day with some few intermissions. Had a severe fit of the gravel yesterday. I am well to day, Praise be to the God of Heaven.
Agriculture in 1847
John Sutter received 2,000 fruit trees, which began Sacramento Valley’s agriculture industry. What type of trees and where they came from is not known.
Libraries in 1852
The Mercantile Library Association was founded in San Francisco to “stimulate a generous rivalry in mental culture, by rendering it the fashion to read and converse on literary topics.” It merged with the Mechanics Institute in 1854 to serve job-seeking unemployed gold miners. Today it is a popular venue for chess players.
Lemon in 1908
Lemon, built on what was Rancho Los Nogales in Los Angeles County, changed its name to Walnut. Walnut is known as one of America’s best small towns.
West in 1940
Nathanael West, novelist and screenwriter, along with his wife, died in a car accident in El Centro. He was age 37. They were returning to Los Angeles from a hunting trip in Mexico when he ran a red light. Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) is widely regarded as his masterpiece.
Television in 1948
KPIX-TV channel 5 in San Francisco began broadcasting. It was the first television station in northern California, the 49th in the U.S.
Sports in 1963
Tom Flores, Oakland Raiders quarterback, passed for 6 touchdowns to defeat the Houston Oilers, 52-49. It was the 4th highest scoring game in NFL history.
Flight in 1964
The first test flight of the SR-71 “Blackbird” took place at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale. It was a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance U.S. Air Force aircraft.
Music in 1965
The Byrds recorded “Eight Miles High” in Hollywood. It was one the first full-blown psychedelic rock recording and was banned from the radio shortly after release.
Weingart in 1980
Ben Weingart, multimillionaire philanthropist, died in Los Angeles at age 93. He co-developed Lakewood, near Long Beach. He and his wife, established the Weingart Center for the Homeless.
Earthquakes in 2003
An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale hit near San Simeon. Two people were killed in Paso Robles. Property damages were estimated at some $100 million.
Crime in 2006
Bryan Tuvera, San Francisco police officer, was shot in a gun battle in the Sunset District, killing Marlon Ruff, an escaped convict. Tuvera also died later that day.
Business in 2008
California’s chief financial officer warned that the state would run out of money in about two months as hopes of a Christmas budget compromise melted into political finger-pointing by the end of the day.
Business in 2008
Foley Wine Group of Los Olivos bought the historic Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma for an undisclosed price.
Crime in 2010
Three men were shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in South San Francisco. Nineteen people were indicted in 2012 for the killings. Three federal agents were wounded during the arrest.
Ranchos in 1845
Rancho Jamul was deeded to Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California. Born at Mission San Gabriel, Pico was Spanish, African and Native American. He became one of the richest men in the state but lost his fortune. He is honored at Pio Pico State Historic Park.
Benicia in 1846
Mariano Vallejo sold the land to build the town of Benicia, named in honor of his wife. Located on the Carquinez Straight, it was intended to rival San Francisco. Benicia was the state capital in 1853 – 1854.
Overland Journeys in 1846
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Snowed a little last night. Clear to day & thawing a little. Milt took some of his meat to day; all well at their camp. Began this day to read the Thirty days prayer. May Almighty God grant the request of an unworthy sinner that I am. Amen.”
Movies in 1912
“Hoffmeyer’s Legacy,” the first Keystone Cops film, was released.
San Bruno in 1914
San Bruno was incorporated following a campaign by the local newspaper, the San Bruno Herald, mainly so the streets could be paved.
World War II in 1941
The Union Oil tanker Montebello was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank off the coast near Cambria. The crew of 38 survived.
Webb in 1982
Jack Webb, actor, producer and director, died in Los Angeles at age 62. He was best known for his role, Joe Friday, in the radio and television series “Dragnet,” perhaps the most famous and influential police procedural drama in history.
Flight in 1986
Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager landed the Rutan Model 76 Voyager at Edwards Air Force Base, making it the first aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without refueling.
Business in 1998
Two days of freezing temperatures caused an estimated $700 million in agricultural damage. Citrus crops in the central San Joaquin Valley were especially hit hard.
Missions in 1775
The first non-native child, christened Salvador Linares, was born in California on the trail near Borrego Springs. He is buried at the Santa Clara mission cemetery.
Literature in 1849
The first English-language book was printed in California. California as it is and as it May be, or a Guide to the Gold Region, by Felix Wierzbicki, included a survey of agriculture, hints on gold mining, a guide to San Francisco, a chapter on Hispanic residents and Native American tribes.
Fires in 1849
A fire that started at a San Francisco gambling parlor burned most of the city because there was no fire department. It was one of seven major fires in two years.
Music in 1910
Luisa Tetrazzini, legendary Italian coloratura soprano, sang to a vast crowd at Lotta’s Fountain in San Francisco, honoring the city’s rebirth after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.
Muir in 1914
John Muir, Scottish-born American naturalist and Sierra Club founder, died in Los Angeles at age 76. He fought to preserve Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas.
Science in 1929
James H.C. Smith, Stanford scientist, reported successfully isolating sufficient amounts of carotene to determine its chemical structure. Carotene is responsible for the orange colour of carrots and the colours of other fruits, vegetables and some animals.
Science in 1936
A radioactive isotope was used for the first time to treat a human disease. It was administered at the Donner Laboratory in Berkeley.
Journalism in 1953
Pierre Salinger, San Francisco Chronicle reporter and later press secretary to President John Kennedy, won the 1953 McQuade Memorial Award for his articles on poor conditions in California county jails. He had himself arrested under an alias in Bakersfield and Stockton for an inside look.
Movies in 1970
Walt Disney’s “Aristocats” premiered. It was the 20th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
Accidents in 1985
A twin engine plane crashed into Sunvalley Shopping Mall in Concord, killing six people.
Business in 1997
The U.S. Air Force agreed to sell McClellan Air Force Base to Sacramento County for a some $90 million, payments to begin in 2008 and continue for 45 years.
Crime in 2000
Susan Berman, writer and daughter of Davie Berman, a Las Vegas mobster, was murdered execution style in her Los Angeles home. She wrote Easy Street: The True Story of a Mob Family (1981).
Crime in 2002
Laci Peterson, 8-months pregnant, disappeared from her Modesto home. Amber Frey later admitted to an affair with Laci’s husband, Scott. Laci’s body was found near where he went fishing on December 24.
Crime in 2008
A man who was having marital problems, dressed as Santa Claus and opened fire at a Christmas party in Covia, leaving 9 people dead. Hours later police found Bruce Pardo, dead, at his brother’s home in Los Angeles.
Accidents in 2008
Wilbert Paana died following a natural gas explosion at his home in Sacramento. His daughter and granddaughter were critically injured. PG&E later agreed to pay $26 million for federal and state safety violations related to the explosion.
Klugman in 2012
Jack Klugman, stage, film and television actor, died in Los Angeles at the age of 90. He starred in “The Odd Couple” TV series (1970-1975) and in “Quincy, M.E.” (1976-1983).
Overland Journeys in 1846
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Began to snow yesterday about 12 o’clock. Snowed all night & snows yet rapidly. Wind about E. by N. Great difficulty in getting wood. John & Edwd. has to get: I am not able. Offered our prayers to God this Cherimass morning. The prospect is appalling; but hope in God. Amen.”
Ripley in 1893
Robert Ripley was born in Santa Rosa. He created “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” newspaper panel series, radio show and television show featuring unbelievable facts from around the world.
Sports in 1894
University of Chicago, the first midwestern football team to play on the west coast defeated Stanford at Palo Alto, 24-4.
Fields in 1946
W.C. Fields, comic film actor, died in Pasadena at age 66 or 67. His acting career spanned from vaudeville shows to the silent movie era then becoming a talkies movie star.
Movies in 1963
Walt Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone” premiered. It was the 18th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
Crime in 1978
Four Renaissance paintings were stolen from the De Young Museum in San Francisco. Three works, including Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Rabbi,” were recovered in New York City in 1999. One is still missing.
Martin in 1995
Dean Martin, one of the most popular entertainers of the mid-20th century, died in Beverly Hills at age 78.
Spies in 1997
Richard Bliss, accused of being a U.S. spy in Russia, arrived in San Diego after Russian authorities let him return home. He worked as a field technician for Qualcomm Inc.
Accidents in 2003
Sixteen people were killed at a youth camp near San Bernardino after mudslides, triggered by heavy rain, swept down the San Gabriel Mountains that had been recently burned by wildfire.
Gold Rush in 1848
The first gold seekers arrived in Panama on their way to San Francisco.
Overland Journeys in 1846
Trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevada and without food, starving members of the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism.
Kwanzaa in 1966
Kwanzaa was first celebrated by Maulana Karenga, chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
Business in 1978
Nolan Bushnell, inventor of the Pong video game, opened the 20,000-sq.-foot Pizza Time Theater in San Jose. It was then the world’s largest pizza parlor.
Business in 2007
eBay, in San Jose, announced a micro-lending website for investing in entrepreneurs in poor communities around the world.
Literature in 1835
Richard Henry Dana collected hides from the San Jose and Santa Clara missions. He described his Alta California adventure in Two Years before the Mast (1840).
War in 1846
John Fremont and the California Battalion captured Santa Barbara. Mexican soldiers at the presidio planned to ambush the Americans but Fremont and his men surprised them by crossing the Santa Ynez Mountains at San Marcos Pass in a rainstorm. They lost horses, mules and a cannon but regrouped and captured Santa Barbara without a fight.
Overland Journys in 1846
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Continues clear. Froze hard last night. Snow very deep: say 9 feet (2.7 m) [2.74 meters]. Thawing a little in the sun. Scarce of wood. To day chopt a tree down. It sinks in the snow & is hard to be got.”
Indians in 1875
President Ulysses Grant created the Pala Indian Reservation by Executive Order. When Cupeños were forced from their homeland in the “Cupeño Trail of Tears” (1903), Luiseños at Pala offered them safety. Today together they own Pala Casino Resort and Spa near Fallbrook.
Crime in 1881
Charles Earl Bowles, English born gentleman bandit known as Black Bart who left poems at the scenes of his crime, held up Wells Fargo Stagecoaches 28 times. His 20th was outside of Bridgeport in Nevada County.
Music in 1913
Thousands of people gathered at Lotta’s Fountain in San Francisco for the Christmas Eve festival of singing, postponed due to rain.
Music in 1961
Tony Bennett, at the Fairmont Hotel Venetian Room in San Francisco, sang his first public solo performance of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
Science in 1998
VaxGen Inc. of South San Francisco reported an AIDS vaccine in clinical trials. It was derived from a genetically engineered protein copied from a protein found in the HIV virus.
Business in 2002
Bridgeville in Humboldt County was sold on Ebay for $1.77 million. After the deal failed, a Southern California investor bought the 82-acre town for $700,000 in 2004.
Crime in 2002
Keith Mackie-Harris and Jerry Duckworth were shot to death at a party in Oakland by members of a gang called the Nut Cases.
Crime in 2006
San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic began a test using cameras to scan license plates to search for cars with unpaid citations. Metal boots were placed on cars with at least five outstanding tickets.
Environment in 2006
A 2-day storm with 60 mph winds hit the San Francisco Bay Area. Manka’s Lodge, built in Inverness (1917), burned when wind knocked a tree into a water heater. A woman in Lagunitas died when a tree crashed through her cottage.
Graham in 2008
Robert Graham, sculptor, died in Santa Monica at age 70. His massive bronze monuments across America, including the F.D.R. Memorial in Washington D.C., celebrate the human figure.
Communication in 1902
The Trans-Pacific cable that linked Hawaii to the U.S. landed at Ocean Beach in San Francisco near the Cliff House. It was met by a large crowd, dignitaries and a brass band.
Transportation in 1912
The first municipally owned streetcars in the U.S. began operation in San Francisco. That was the start of Muni.
Environment in 1973
The California Endangered Species Act passed. It broadened and strengthened protection for plants and animals listed by the U.S. as threatened or endangered.
Wilson in 1983
Dennis Wilson, drummer, singer and songwriter, died in Marina Del Rey at age 39. He founded the Beach Boys with his brothers, Brian and Carl, cousin, Mike Love and Al Jardine.
Environment in 1998
Fog closed all San Francisco Bay Area airports, stranding thousands of travelers.
Crime in 1998
Tyisha Miller, 19-years-old, was shot and killed by Riverside police officers as she sat with a gun in her car. The coroner reported that she was legally drunk with traces of marijuana present. The police officers were cleared of criminal charges in the killing.
Moore in 1999
Clayton Moore, star of “The Lone Ranger” television series in the 1950s, died in Calabasas at age 85.