1990: Fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson discovers three huge bones jutting out of a cliff near Faith, South Dakota. They turn out to be part of the largest-ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered, a 65-million-year-old specimen dubbed “Sue,” after its discoverer. Sue’s skeleton was over 90 percent complete, and the bones were extremely well-preserved. Hendrickson’s employer, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, paid $5,000 to the landowner, Maurice Williams, for the right to excavate the dinosaur skeleton.
1995: Former New York Yankees star Mickey Mantle dies of liver cancer at the age of 63. While “The Mick” patrolled center field and batted cleanup between 1951 and 1968, the Yankees won 12 American League pennants and seven World Series championships.
1935: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Social Security Act. Press photographers snapped pictures as FDR, flanked by ranking members of Congress, signed into law the historic act, which guaranteed an income for the unemployed and retirees. FDR commended Congress for what he considered to be a “patriotic” act.
1969: The Woodstock Music Festival opens on a patch of farmland in White Lake, a hamlet in the upstate New York town of Bethel. Early estimates of attendance increased from 50,000 to around 200,000, but by the time the gates opened on Friday, Aug. 15, more than 400,000 people were clamoring to get in. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were eventually forced to make the event free of charge. Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens kicked off the event with a long set, and Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie also performed on Friday night.
1896: While salmon fishing near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory on this day in 1896, George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.
1915: Charles F. Kettering, co-founder of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) in Dayton, Ohio, is issued a U.S. patent for his “engine-starting device” — the first electric ignition device for automobiles. In the early years of the automobile, drivers used iron hand cranks to start the internal combustion process that powered the engines on their cars. In addition to requiring great hand and arm strength, this system was not without certain risks: If the driver forgot to turn his ignition off before turning the crank, the car could backfire or roll forward, as at the time most vehicles had no brakes. Clearly a better system was needed, and in 1911 Cadillac head Henry M. Leland gave Charles Kettering the task of developing one.
1920: The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”