Meet Mike and Danny

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Double click for a larger size image…

I’ve shared a couple of pictures of scarecrows from a scarecrow festival in Dahlonega that we saw a couple weeks ago. I’ll admit, they weren’t very “scary”…Elvis and a mermaid aren’t exactly frightening. Today’s scarecrow picture does more to earn the name “scarecrow”.

This is Miner Mike and Donkey Danny. Dahlonega was a gold rush town in Georgia, in fact, it was the site of the first gold rush in the United States in 1828.

The United States Mint built a branch mint there, which it operated from 1838–1861. The Dahlonega Mint only minted gold coins, in denominations of $1.00, $2.50, $3.00 (1854 only) and $5.00. This was cost effective in consideration of the economics, time, and risk of shipping gold to the main mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dahlonega Mint was a small operation, usually accounting for only a small fraction of the gold coinage minted annually in the US.

The government decided against re-opening the facility after the Civil War. By then, the U.S. government had established a mint in San Francisco, California. Given the large amount of gold discovered in California from the late 1840s on, that mint handled the national needs of gold mint production.

And so, Mike the Miner and Danny the Donkey are reminders of the glory days of Dahlonega. And they’re not real, right? (I don’t think so anyway.)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1958,

A commuter train plunges off a bridge into Newark Bay in New Jersey killing 47 passengers on this day in 1958. The accident was the result of mistakes made by the train’s crew.

The first bridge across Newark Bay was built in 1864. In 1926, this bridge was updated. Now made of steel, it could be raised to allow large ships to pass underneath it. In order to avoid problems with the rail lines that used the bridge, there was an automatic warning system installed. If the bridge was raised, warning lights alerted oncoming trains 1,500 yards from the bridge. A second warning was put in place 200 yards before the bridge. Finally, a derailer was installed just before the bridge to force a train from the tracks if the bridge was raised.

As commuter train 3314 from Bay Head Junction was leaving the Elizabethport station, a large freighter was radioing ahead to have the bridge raised. As the train approached Newark Bay, its crew either did not see or ignored both warning-light systems. The train was traveling about 40 miles per hour when it hit the derailer.

The locomotive and one other car jumped the tracks and plunged into the bay below. A third car was left hanging over the side of the bridge. There were no people in the first car, but the 47 people in the second car all drowned. The people in the third car were able to escape just before it also fell into the bay. Forty-eight people were injured.

Some blamed the severity of the accident on the fact that the bridge was not fully raised for the freighter. When the bridge was fully raised, concrete counterweights came down and blocked the open gap in the bridge. The train would have hit this concrete if the bridge had been fully raised. However, the common practice was to only partially raise the bridge to save time.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Mars lacks an ozone layer; therefore, the surface of Mars is bathed in a lethal dose of radiation every time the sun rises. Sorta makes you want to be the first person to go to Mars, doesn’t it?

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