• On March 29, 1806, the Great National Pike, also known as the Cumberland Road, becomes the first highway funded by the national treasury. The initial appropriation of $30,000 was made by congressional act and covered the first leg from Cumberland, Md., through the Appalachian Mountains to Wheeling in western Virginia on the Ohio River.
• On March 28, 1915, the first American is killed in the eight-month-old European conflict that would become known as the First World War. Leon Thrasher, a 31- year-old mining engineer and native of Massachusetts, drowned when a German submarine torpedoed the cargo-passenger ship Falaba, on its way from Liverpool to West Africa, off the coast of England.
• On March 25, 1933, President Herbert Hoover accepts the newly commissioned USS Sequoia as the official presidential yacht. Before it was commissioned as the presidential yacht, the Department of Commerce used the Sequoia as a decoy to catch Prohibition law-breakers.
• On March 24, 1958, Elvis Presley is inducted into the U.S. Army. Although he had been drafted the previous December, the Army granted him a deferral so he could finish shooting the film “King Creole.”
• On March 27, 1964, the strongest earthquake in U.S. history, measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, slams southern Alaska, creating a deadly tsunami. Some 125 people were killed and thousands injured. The tidal wave, which measured over 100 feet at points, devastated towns along the Gulf of Alaska and caused carnage in British Columbia, Canada; Hawaii; and the West Coast of the United States.
• On March 26, 1970, the classic documentary “Woodstock,” showing the August 1969 concert that drew half a million people to a dairy farm in New York, premieres. The film won an Oscar for Best Documentary.
• On March 23, 1999, author Thomas Harris delivers his 600-page manuscript for his new novel, “Hannibal,” to Delacorte press. He had promised the follow-up to “The Silence of the Lambs” more than 10 years earlier as part of a two-book contract that paid him a $5.2 million advance.
(c) 2009 King Features Synd.