Significant Events of 1903


May, 2003

Imagine 1903. The population of California is less than 1.5 million and the community of Homestead Valley is founded. What else is going on?

Several famous books appear: Call of the Wild (Jack London), Man and Superman (G. B. Shaw), The Pit (Frank Norris) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (Kate Douglas Wiggins). Caruso debuts at the Met in Rigoletto – only fair reviews. Sweet Adeline is sung for the first time at the New York City Pops. “The Wizard of Oz” premieres. Victor Herbert composes “Babes in Toyland”. A 12-minute long documentary film “The Great Train Robbery” sets many patterns for future Westerns.

Richard Steif designs the first fuzzy toy bear which he names after President Teddy Roosevelt. The USA signs a treaty with Colombia to dig the Panama Canal, but Columbia rejects it. Roosevelt orders warships to Panama. The USA recognizes the independent Republic of Panama. USA and Panama sign a treaty giving the USA a 10-mile strip of land across the isthmus.

Henry Ford organizes the Ford Motor Co. and sells a 2-cylinder, 2-seat gasoline-powered “family horse” for $850. Several Swiss cantons ban automobiles – a toy for the rich, noisy, vulgar, dangerous, a terror-creating machine. Marin County Supervisors reject popular support for such a ban. The first Harley-Davidson gasoline-powered motor bike rolls off the assembly line. The first trip by automobile across the country is completed – a Packard takes 52 days to go from San Francisco to New York.

Orville and Wilbur Wright launch the world’s first successful manned flight in a motorized airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina – 852 feet in 59 seconds. An electrical trolley is installed in Scranton, PA – it runs in the streets, taking power from overhead wires. Motor taxis appear in London. Britain raises the speed limit from 15 to 20 mph. The first Tour de France bicycle race takes place. Pierre and Marie Curie win the Nobel prize in physics. Sanka decaffeinated coffee appears. Milton Hershey lays the cornerstone of a chocolate factory. The Pacific cable is completed – the first around-the-world message sent by President Roosevelt comes back to him in 12 minutes. Regular news service begins between London and New York via Marconi’s wireless system. The New York Stock Exchange building at Broad and Wall Streets is dedicated.

Boston beats Pittsburgh 3-0 in the first annual World Series.

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.