Today in history: Feb. 28

/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Feb. 28, the 59th day of 2005. There are 306 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:
On Feb. 28, 1849, the ship “California” arrived at San Francisco, carrying the first of the gold-seekers.

On this date:
In 1827, the first U.S. railroad chartered to carry passengers and freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, was incorporated.

In 1844, a 12-inch gun aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas W. Gilmer and several others.

In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized.

In 1951, the Senate committee headed by Estes Kefauver, D-Tenn., issued a preliminary report saying at least two major crime syndicates were operating in the U.S.

In 1953, scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains the human genes.

In 1974, the United States and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after a seven-year break.

In 1975, more than 40 people were killed in London’s Underground when a subway train smashed into the end of a tunnel.

In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot to death in central Stockholm.

In 1993, a gun battle erupted at a compound near Waco, Texas, when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began.

In 1996, Britain’s Princess Diana agreed to divorce Prince Charles.

Ten years ago: U.S. Marines swept ashore in Somalia to protect retreating U.N. peacekeepers. Denver International Airport opened after 16 months of delays and $3.2 billion in budget overruns.

Five years ago: Right-wing Austrian leader Joerg Haider resigned as head of the Freedom Party in an apparent bid to end Austria’s international ostracism following his party’s rise to power.

One year ago: Iraq’s U.S.-picked leaders failed to meet a deadline for adopting an interim constitution. Six-nation talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program ended in Beijing with an agreement to hold more negotiations. The “Bow Mariner,” a tanker carrying ethanol, exploded and sank off the Virginia coast; three crew members died and 18 were left missing and presumed dead, while six men survived. Former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin died in Washington, D.C., at age 89.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Charles Durning is 82. Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin, is 79. Actor Gavin MacLeod is 74. Actor Don Francks is 73. Actor-director-dancer Tommy Tune is 66. Auto racer Mario Andretti is 65. Singer Joe South is 65. Actor Frank Bonner is 63. Actress Kelly Bishop is 61. Football player Bubba Smith is 60. Actress Stephanie Beacham is 58. Actress Mercedes Ruehl is 57. Actress Bernadette Peters is 57. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is 50. Basketball player Adrian Dantley is 49. Actor John Turturro is 48. Rock singer Cindy Wilson is 48. Actress Rae Dawn Chong is 44. Actor Robert Sean Leonard is 36. Rock singer Pat Monahan (Train) is 36. Actress Maxine Bahns is 34. Actor Bobb’e J. Thompson (“The Tracy Morgan Show”) is 9.

Thought for today: “The greatest gift of life is friendship and I have received it.” — Hubert H. Humphrey, American vice president (1911-1978).