Columbus, Jamaica, eclipseFeb. 29, 1504:  Marooned by ship trouble during his fourth voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus cons the natives on Jamaica into feeding his crew.  Aware that a lunar eclipse would happen that night, Columbus tells the native chiefs that the suddenly dark, reddened full moon was a sign that the Gods were displeased with them (depitcted at right).

Feb. 29, 1692:  A property dispute between neighbors in Salem, Massachusetts.  While some of the details have been lost to history as to how a real estate dispute could lead to charges of witchcraft, Sarah Osborne becomes the first accused Salem Witch.

Feb. 29, 1960:  A relatively mild 5.7 magnitude earthquake turns disastrous for the city of Agadir, Morocco. Tens of thousands are left homeless in the wreckage of Agadir’s ancient buildings.   The city is evacuated two days later due to the health risks from the 15,000 who died.

Feb. 29, 2000:  U.S. President Bill Clinton, backed by a bi-partisan team of state governors, heads off a Congressional effort to end funding for Amtrak, the national passenger rail system.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.