On This Day, February 6th
1. 1891: The Dalton Gang attempt their first train robbery
Lewis and Adeleine Dalton had ten sons that grew up on homesteads in Oklahoma and Kansas during the late 1800’s. They were all law abiding citizens including Frank who served as a U.S. Marshall. However, that started to change when Frank was murdered in 1887 by whiskey runners in the Oklahoma territory. Grat Dalton took over as the deputy marshall and recruited two of his brothers, Bob and Emmett to be his assistants. Even though the men held positions in law enforcement, they had very little respect for the law after what happened to their brother. They started using their authority for their own personal gain by stealing horses and cattle in the area. By 1890 they were completely discredited as lawmen and even faced imprisonment but somehow managed to evade the authorities. On this date in 1891, the brothers decided to take their criminal operations to a new level and Grat, Bob and Bill attempted to rob a Southern Pacific train near Alila, California. The brothers attacked the train’s engineer and forced him to divulge the location of the express car that carried all the money. When he refused to cooperate he was shot in the stomach. Once the brothers found the express car, they demanded that the guard inside open the door but he also refused, Instead he began shooting at them from a small spy hole. The Dalton boys were so frustrated at this point that they turned tail and ran. However, they went back to Oklahoma and successfully robbed a few banks before eventually getting killed in another failed robbery at the Coffeyville Bank in October of 1892.
2. 1971: Astronaut Alan Shepard played golf on the moon
On this date in 1971 during the Apollo 14 lunar mission, Alan Shepard pulled out a makeshift six-iron that he smuggled on board and became the first, and only, person to play golf anywhere but on the surface of Earth. Shepard had already cemented his name into the record books when he became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, but he wanted to do something else special. So he contacted a golf pro in Houston to have him fit the head of six-iron onto one of the tools used for rock collecting. Sheard then covered it with a sock so that it wouldn’t be discovered prior to the launch. Only a small handful of people were aware of Shepard’s intentions. Once he landed on the moon, he pulled out his specially made golf club and proceeded to hit two balls. Many physicists tried estimating how far the shots went and the numbers they came up with are difficult to wrap your head around. Even though he shanked his first shot, scientists still believe it went well over 200 yards. The second shot he connected with and some reports indicate that the ball might’ve traveled well over 2.5 miles and stayed in the air for over 70 seconds. The club Shepard used was eventually donated to the USGA museum in 1974 and a replica currently sits in the Smithsonian.
3. 1958: Manchester United suffers the loss of 8 players due to the Munich air disaster
It was on this date in 1958 that a plane crashed while taking off from the Munich Airport which left 23 casualties including eight members of the popular Manchester United Soccer team. Onboard the British European Airways flight 609 was a total of 44 people which consisted of the entire Manchester team including a few reporters and supporters. They were returning from a hard fought game against the Red Star Belgrade which resulted in a tie game of 3-3, which meant Manchester had moved on to the semi-finals in the European Cup. Piloting the Airspeed Ambassador was James Thain who landed the plane in Munich to re-fuel. The weather conditions were horrible at the time due to a recent snowstorm and Thain had to abort his first two attempts at taking off. Rather than waiting for the weather to pass, he attempted a third time but didn’t abort like he had previously. Unable to get the speed required to achieve the proper lift, Thain smashed into a fence at the end of the runway and then into an abandoned house. At first, all blame was placed on the pilot and he was charged with criminal negligence. However, It was later determined that the cause of the crash was slush that built up at the end of the runway. It took ten years for the German prosecutors to clear Thain’s name.