TODAY IN HISTORYwe live in a slightly mad world

Sep 13 1848

A 13-pound tamping iron is blown through the head of railroad construction foreman Phineas P. Gage, entering beneath the left cheekbone and exiting the top of his head. The metal bar lands 30 yards away, taking with it much of his left frontal lobe. Gage never loses consciousness, even while the doctors examine his wound. Two months later, he is well enough to return home and resume an active life of work and travel. The steel rod, along with a cast of Gage’s head, and his skull, are now on display at Harvard Medical Schools’s Warren Anatomical Museum.

Sep 13 1916

Mary the circus elephant is publicly executed in the Erwin, Tennessee railyard, after killing a drifter named Red Eldridge the previous day. The five-ton animal is hanged from a derrick car in front of 3,000 onlookers, and left hanging for half an hour.

Sep 13 1971

After 1,300 rioting prisoners reject a list of proposed concessions because it lacks immunity from prosecution, New York Governor (Nelson Rockefeller) orders an attack to retake Attica prison. In all, 29 prisoners die and 85 are wounded; and 10 hostages are killed. For months thereafter, prisoners receive inhumane beatings from guards.

Sep 13 1974

The Rockford Files debuts on NBC television.

Sep 13 1996


Death Row Records rap artist Tupac Shakur dies in Las Vegas from gunshot wounds inflicted during a drive-by. The rapper was shot four times by persons unknown, leaving him in a coma for six days. 2PAC had recently spent 8 months in prison for sexual assault.