Thursday, March 1, 2012

This Day in History: Mar 1, 1932: Lindbergh baby kidnapped

On this day in 1932, in a crime that captured the attention of the entire nation, Charles Lindbergh III, the 20-month-old son of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, is kidnapped from the family's new mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey. Lindbergh, who became an international celebrity when he flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, and his wife Anne discovered a ransom note demanding $50,000 in their son's empty room. The kidnapper used a ladder to climb up to the open second-floor window and left muddy footprints in the room.

The Lindberghs were inundated by offers of assistance and false clues. Even Al Capone offered his help from prison. For three days, investigators found nothing and there was no further word from the kidnappers. Then, a new letter showed up, this time demanding $70,000.

The kidnappers eventually gave instructions for dropping off the money and when it was delivered, the Lindberghs were told their baby was on a boat called Nelly off the coast of Massachusetts. After an exhaustive search, however, there was no sign of either the boat or the child. Soon after, the baby's body was discovered near the Lindbergh mansion. He had been killed the night of the kidnapping and was found less than a mile from home. The heartbroken Lindberghs ended up donating the mansion to charity and moved away.

The kidnapping looked like it would go unsolved until September 1934, when a marked bill from the ransom turned up. The gas station attendant who had accepted the bill wrote down the license plate number because he was suspicious of the driver. It was tracked back to a German immigrant and carpenter, Bruno Hauptmann. When his home was searched, detectives found a chunk of Lindbergh ransom money.

Hauptmann claimed that a friend had given him the money to hold and that he had no connection to the crime. The resulting trial was a national sensation. The prosecution's case was not particularly strong; the main evidence, besides the money, was testimony from handwriting experts that the ransom note had been written by Hauptmann. The prosecution also tried to establish a connection between Hauptmann and the type of wood that was used to make the ladder.
Still, the evidence and intense public pressure were enough to convict Hauptmann and he was electrocuted in 1935.In the aftermath of the crime—the most notorious of the 1930s—kidnapping was made a federal offense.

In South Africa: 1 March, 1849,The Cape Agulhas lighthouse begins operating
View from the Cape Agulhas lighthouse
Contrary to popular belief, Cape Agulhas and not Cape Point is the southernmost tip of Africa. The seas around Cape Agulhas - about two hours drive from Cape Town - are very treacherous and have caused numerous shipwrecks. Therefore the construction of a lighthouse at Agulhas was requested in March 1837 by the Cape's surveyor-general and civil engineer, Colonel C.C. Michell.

It took years for the Cape Legislative Council to raise the money to begin building the lighthouse, but construction eventually began on 1 April 1847. On 8 January 1848, the foundation stone was laid in the presence of the governor Sir Harry Smith, Michell and the 90 odd workmen who had laid over 18,000 cubic feet of cut-masonry.

The lighthouse was based on the design of the ancient lighthouse of Pharos, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the world and it was built from limestone. The lighthouse began operating on 1 March 1849.

Today, the Agulhas lighthouse is the second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa and was declared a national monument in 1973. The light house is used in combination with a radio transmitter to warn ships not to come to close to shore.

The warm Agulhas Current and the cold Benguela Current meet somewhere between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point. Visitors who climb the narrow ladder to the top of the light house are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean.

A lighthouse at Cape Agulhas was suggested by Colonel Charles Collier Michell, the Surveyor-General of the Cape, in March 1837. A public meeting at Cape Town on 11 July 1840 resolved to raise funds for the construction of the lighthouse, and Michiel van Breda, the founder of Bredasdorp, offered to donate the land on which it was to be built. Apart from local contributions, funds were received from Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Manila, St Helena and London; by June 1843 the sum raised was £1,479.3s.9d (£1,479.19).[2]
In 1847 the government agreed to fund the construction at a cost of £15,871; building work began in April of that year and was completed in December 1848, and the light was first lit on 1 March 1849. Originally it was fuelled by the tail-fat of sheep, but in 1905 an oil-burning lantern was installed. In March 1910 the lens was replaced with a first-order Fresnel lens. In 1929 the oil burner was replaced by a petroleum vapour burner, which was in turn replaced in 1936 by a four-kilowatt electric lamp powered by a diesel generator.[2]
In 1968 the lighthouse was taken out of service, and the light moved to an aluminium tower, as it was discovered that the sandstone walls were crumbling due to excessive weathering. The building was declared a national monument in 1973 and is also a Western Cape provincial heritage site.[3] Restoration and reconstruction was performed by the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum and the local council, and the lighthouse was recommissioned in 1988.[2][4]

To read a very detailed history on the creation and design of this lighthouse visit:


No comments:

Post a Comment