August 2020

This Day in History… August 13, 1918

First Women Enlist in the Marines

US #1013 was issued to honor the role of women in the armed services.

On August 13, 1918, Opha May Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the US Marine Corps Reserve.

According to legend, the first American female Marine may have been Lucy Brewer.  Stories claim she disguised herself as a man and snuck aboard the USS Constitution during the War of 1812.  However, there is little evidence to support that claim.

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This Day in History… August 12, 1960

Echo 1

US #1173 pictures a satellite orbiting earth while emitting radio waves.

On August 12, 1960, Echo I, the world’s first passive communications satellite, was placed in orbit around the Earth

Echo 1 was part of NASA’s Project Echo, America’s first passive communications satellite experiment.  The goal was to send radio signals into space from one location, bounce them off the satellite, and receive them at another location.

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This Day in History… August 11, 1862

The Virginia City Pony Express

US #143L7 – 10¢ brown Wells Fargo Pony Express stamp

On August 11, 1862, Wells Fargo inaugurated its Virginia City Pony Express, which carried mail between Nevada mining towns and California business centers.

When California’s gold rush began in 1848, Vermonter Henry Wells and New York-native William Fargo, both partners in different express companies, realized the opportunities available to them in the West.  In 1850, these two joined forces with John Warren Butterfield to establish the American Express Company (the same one now known for its credit card).  When Wells and Fargo considered expanding to California, the company’s board declined.  Instead, the two started their own business. 

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This Day in History… August 10, 1936

Joshua Tree National Monument

US #5347 – 2019 Express Mail Stamp picturing Joshua trees

On August 10, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt used the power of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create Joshua Tree National Monument.

Rising tall above the sand dunes in the American Southwest, Joshua trees are dominating figures with twisted branches and sharp, spiky leaves.  Found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, Joshua trees grow about three inches per year, which is fast for their climate.  They are known to reach soaring heights, up to 49 feet.  Unlike most trees, they do not have growth rings, so it is difficult to determine their age.  Joshua trees can live for hundreds of years, but it is believed some have survived for a thousand.

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This Day in History… August 9, 2001

American Treasures Series 

US #3524-27 features the designs of quilts created in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

On August 9, 2001, the USPS inaugurated the American Treasures Series with the issue of four stamps depicting Amish quilts.

In announcing the new stamp series, the USPS stated, “US postage stamps honor significant people, major events, and lasting achievements.  Yet sometimes, people just want beautiful stamps.”

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This Day in History… August 8, 1829

The First Steam Locomotive in the U.S.

US #2362 – from the 1987 Locomotives issue

On August 8, 1829, the Stourbridge Lion became the first steam locomotive to be operated in the United States.

The locomotive had been built for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company (D&H).  The company had been founded in 1823 to construct canals between the coalfields near Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and New York City.  In 1825, the project’s engineers began to consider using trains to transport the coal to the canal.

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