On this day 285 years ago, Daniel Boone, the American pioneer, explorer, and politician was born. His frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Although he also became a businessman, soldier and politician who represented three different counties in the Virginia General Assembly, Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky.

Boone blazed the Wilderness Road from North Carolina and Tennessee through the mountains of Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. There, he founded the village of Boonesborough, in Kentucky, one of the first American settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 Americans migrated to Kentucky/Virginia by following the route marked by Boone. (1734)

He was a legend in his own lifetime, especially after accounts of his adventures were published in 1784, framing him as the typical American frontiersman—and, later, inspiring many heroic tall tales and works of fiction.

Despite the theme song of a television show (1964–1970) that described Boone as a “big man” in a “coonskin cap”—the “rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man the frontier ever knew”, the lyrics did not describe the real Boone. He was not a big man and did not wear a coonskin cap.

More Good News on this Date:

  • The BBC Television Service was launched by the British Broadcasting Corporation—the world’s first continuous, broadcast-quality TV service (1936)
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC, was established (1936)
  • Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday to honor the Civil Rights hero, was signed into U.S. law by President Ronald Reagan (1983)
  • Hostage David Jacobsen was freed after 17 months captivity by Islamic Jihad (1986)
  • The International Space Station became a home for the first time as an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived for a four-month stay–and it has been continuously occupied since then (2000)

And, on this day in 1920, KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania started broadcasting as the first commercially licensed radio station in the United States.

Photo by Djembayz, CC license

After building a transmitter for the company, Westinghouse employee Frank Conrad listened as colleagues broadcast the US presidential election returns from a shack on the roof. It was reportedly heard as far away as Canada. (Republican Warren G. Harding won the election that night, on his 55th birthday.) 

And, on this day in 1957, the Levelland UFO Case occurred in Texas, with 15 separate people reporting sightings of blue lights or an oblong craft that would disengage—and, then, reengage—nearby cars.

Plasma Ball of Light by Sean Stayte, CC license

The stories were taken seriously once the local sheriff saw the object himself. One of the most impressive UFO cases in American history, the Air Force spent seven hours investigating and concluded it was ‘ball lightening’, even though there was no storm in the area at the time, and the phenomenon has no reported ability to stall car batteries. TV Reporter Richard Rey of KDFW-TV produced a 40th anniversary story for which he interviewed the sheriff’s wife and recounted the bizarre tale of what happened that night on the plains of Texas. WATCH it here.

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