Oct. 1, 1890
On this day, Congress passes the act that created Yosemite National Park. After years of lobbying by concerned citizens, including Scottish-born environmentalist John Muir, the park is permanently protected from overgrazing and cutting of its giant sequoias. Today – spared the ravages of sheep, cattle and lumberjacks – Yosemite is visited by more than 3.5 million people annually.
Oct. 1, 1940
With the opening of the first section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (running from US 11 near Carlisle west to US 30 at Irwin), America has its first superhighway; Carmageddon wouldn't be invented for another 70 years.
Oct. 1, 1971
Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, Fla., in an effort to capitalize on the success of Anaheim's Disneyland. When the gates opened, the Magic Kingdom was the only theme park at the facility (which has since added Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom).
Oct. 2, 1535
Having landed in Quebec a month earlier, French explorer Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River and reaches a town, which he names Montreal.
Oct. 6, 1914
Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian anthropologist and explorer, was born on this day. Best known for constructing a raft he named Kon-Tiki and sailing 5,000 miles across the Pacific from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands in 1947, he wanted to show that it could have been possible for ancient people to have made long sea voyages, thus contacting completely separate cultures. The original Kon-Tiki raft can be seen on display at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.