Special Report

Most Important Historical Event in Every State

Grant Suneson, John Harrington

Source: nps.gov

16. Kansas
> Event: Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka
> Year: 1954
> Location: Topeka

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case provided one of the first major victories of the civil rights movement. Oliver Brown sued the Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education, saying the city’s schools for black students were not as good as those for white students.

The case made it to the Supreme Court in 1952, where the justices ruled that the idea of public facilities being “separate but equal” was unconstitutional. This decision made racial integration the law of the land and marked a major step forward in U.S. history.

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Source: Michael Vadon / Flickr

17. Kentucky
> Event: Fort Knox starts holding gold bullion
> Year: 1937
> Location: Fort Knox

The United States Bullion Depository, housed within Fort Knox, was opened in 1937 to store the nation’s gold reserves. It is one of six U.S. Mint facilities and is located next to a U.S. Army garrison. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the holdings swelled to 649.6 million ounces, the highest amount ever held there. The gold is kept in the form of bars measuring 7 inches in length, 3.625 inches in width, and are 1.75 inches thick. The depository has held other valuables such as the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

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Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

18. Louisiana
> Event: Hurricane Katrina
> Year: 2005
> Location: Southeastern Louisiana

Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf of Mexico in August 2005. The hurricane hit several states, but Louisiana took the brunt of the storm. Katrina battered New Orleans and the surrounding area with 127 mile per hour winds. Most of the levees in New Orleans failed, leading to overwhelming flooding.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that 1,833 people were killed either directly or indirectly as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Over 1,500 of those fatalities were in Louisiana. The storm also caused over $108 billion in damages, making it the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

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Source: Town of Kennebunkport

19. Maine
> Event: The Year Maine Burned
> Year: 1947
> Location: Statewide

In 1947, Maine received about half of its normal rainfall for the summer and into the fall, setting up dry conditions that led to a fire. The blaze began on Oct. 17 in a cranberry bog. Then, strong winds fanned the flames, spreading the fire until it eventually engulfed more than 17,000 acres, including 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park. Today, the aftermath of the fire at the park can be seen in the diversity of its scenery. Nature has replaced a blanket of evergreen trees by a colorful palette of deciduous trees.

That fire was a prelude for the rest of the year. The fall of 1947 saw many other serious fires. By the end of the year, more than 200,000 acres and 1,000 homes had been destroyed. The repeated destruction earned 1947 the nickname “The Year Maine Burned.”

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Source: DanTD / Wikimedia Commons

20. Maryland
> Event: The Toleration Act
> Year: 1649
> Location: Statewide

The colony of Maryland was settled in 1634 with the intention of expanding religious freedoms compared to England at the time. Anglicans and Catholics were often at odds, which made it a surprise when the charter for Maryland was given to a Catholic family from the Anglican King James.

Maryland sealed its reputation as a haven for religious liberty when it passed the Toleration Act, which said that no one who “professes to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be any way troubled, harassed or embarrassed for … his or her religion.” That may seem restrictive by today’s standards, but it was a big step in the 17th century.

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