Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today -100: November 27, 1910: Of lumber slaves, fires, planes and cigar lighters

In France, a sailor charged with deserting his ship in Portland, Oregon proves that he had been drugged and put to work as a slave in a lumber camp in Oregon for several months.

24 women and girls are killed in a fire in a four-story building in Newark, NJ, which housed a gas lamp factory on the 3rd floor (where the fire started), a couple of paper box factories below that, and the Wolff Muslin Undergarment Company on the 4th floor, from which came most of the dead. One of the two fire escapes, all NJ law required on the 150-foot-long building, was blocked by flames. Many of the factory workers jumped as the flames reached them, only to be impaled on the spikes of a gate.

A newspaper in Virginia arranges for a plane to fly over the Virginia State Penitentiary, so the lifers can see a plane for the first time. They were suitably awe-struck.

Tourist advice: if you are traveling in France in 1910, be aware that pocket cigar lighters are illegal, because they infringe on the match monopoly, an important source of government revenue.

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