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February 20, 1835, Kentucky created Clinton County from Wayne County and Cumberland County and named it in honor of NY Governor DeWitt Clinton.  Albany is the county seat.  Other localities include Aaron, Abstons Corner, Alpha, Browns Crossroads, Bug, Cannons Mill, Cartwright, Cedar Knob, Churntop, Cumberland City, Decide, Dicken, Five Springs, Highway, Hobart, Hogback, Huntersville, Ida, Jones Mill, Lettered Oak, Marlow, Narvel, Nora, Ootens Store, Pikeview, Rolan, Savage, Seventy Six, Shipley, Snow, Sparta, Static, Upchurch, Wago, Watauga, Willis Creek, and Wolf River Dock.  The 85th county created, Clinton County, covers 196 square miles.

By David Benbennick

On February 20, 1877, workers completed building High Bridge, connecting Jessamine and Mercer Counties over the Kentucky River Palisades.  The 1st cantilever bridge set world records in height and is a National Civil Engineering Landmark.  President Hayes and Gen. Tecumseh Sherman attended the 1879 dedication.  In 1911, workers built the current bridge around the existing structure and then expanded it to two tracks in 1929.

By Rsfinlayson
By J D. Mackiewicz

February 20, 1903, Agriculture and Mechanical College of Kentucky (UK) played the 3rd and final game of their 1st season, losing to Kentucky University (Transy) 2-42.  A&M hosted in the State College Gymnasium, and both teams had a five-team rooster.  A&M (UK) finished the season 1-2.

February 20, 1920, Samuel Goldwyn Pictures released Kentucky author John Fox Jr’s wildly popular novel, The Little Shepherd Of Kingdom, as a silent movie.  Charles Scribner’s Sons Published the book in 1903, one of the first American novels to sell over a million copies.

February 20, 1924, for the 1st time in Fayette County, farmers who sold their tobacco outside the Bingham Cooperative Marketing law were sent to jail and fined.  Judge Stoll handed down the sentences.

February 20, 1934, 2:05 a.m., Kentucky’s 1st consignment of airmail left Bowman Field in a plane piloted by Lieut. Warburton.  He flew to Memphis with seven sacks of mail from the Louisville post office.   The flight and similar ones across the country began the Army’s most extensive peacetime job to date.

February 20, 1937, Captain Vernie C. Snellen, Kentucky Highway Patrol, died in an automobile crash on the Dixie Highway when the car’s accelerator got stuck; he was three miles from Georgetown while returning from working in Covington.

February 20, 1943, Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats lost to Ray Meyer’s DePaul Demons in Chicago Stadium 53-44.  Over 16,000 people saw Kentucky’s 1st game in the stadium.  By 1968, when they played their last game, the Wildcats would have a 10-6 record in the historic facility.

Chicago Stadium

February 20, 1950, mobs in Harlan, Bell, and Knox Counties beat and shot at miners leaving work.  Sixteen cars, with six men in each, attacked workers at the Mary Helen Coal Corporation in Harlan.  Twenty-eight bullets destroyed a vehicle used to transfer miners to mines in Knox.  Dynamite exploded in other mining camps.  There were many terror incidents on this day.

February 20, 1960, three of the nation’s busiest airlines ordered a complete shutdown after flight engineers struck, creating the worst tie-up in American aviation history.  Louisville’s Standiford Field canceled Eastern, American, and Trans World flights but kept Delta, Piedmont, and Ozark open.

On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the 1st American to orbit Earth as he flew aboard Project Mercury’s Friendship 7 spacecraft, which circled the globe three times in a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds before splashing down safely in the Atlantic Ocean 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.

February 20, 1966, Army PFC Emmitt C. Adams from Isom in Letcher County and Army SP4 Raymond S. Ford from Bardstown in Nelson County died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1968, Army 1LT Jeffrey W. Green from Bowling Green in Warren County and Army PFC Donald D. Philbeck from Richmond in Madison County died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1969, Army SGT Harold Sullivan from Pineville in Bell County died in the Vietnam War.

February 20, 1971, UK Coach Adolph Rupp, who left the hospital to watch his team, was the #1 fan while Coach Joe B. Hall took the reins.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Lexington native Brian Thomas Littrell, born in 1975.  After the Backstreet Boys, he became the father of country singer Baylee Littrell.

February 20, 1976, Muhammad Ali (50-2) fought Jean-Pierre Coopman (24-3) in Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Ali’s best friend, Howard Bingham, said this about Coopman, a Belgian: “By all accounts, he was a very nice man.  He just couldn’t fight.”  At the news conference to announce the fight, Coopman was pleased to meet his hero; he kept trying to kiss him.  “Get this guy away from me,” Ali said.  Coopman’s American manager, George Kanter, who tried to sell the fight, found a voodoo witch doctor he claimed would help Coopman win.  Coopman believed in witches and was happy to be put into a deep hole and have water poured over him.  He drank champagne in his locker room before the fight.  Ali toyed with him until the 5th round and then dropped him.

February 20, 1980, a two-and-a-half month civil suit ended when a jury decided that family members did not prove that “old-style” aluminum wire caused the Beverly Hills fire in Covington, a disappointing verdict for many.

February 20, 1982, Rev. Dale Peterson, Pastor of Paducah’s Broadway Baptist Church, led 500 protestors worried about an off-track betting facility planned for his city.  

February 20, 1990, Logan County teenager Courtney Wright, 17, named the 1990 Miss National Teenager, visited President G.H.W. Bush in the White House.

February 20, 1998, Harvey C. Russell Jr., a retired Pepsico executive who was the 1st black man to become a vice president at a major American corporation, died in the Bronx.  A Louisville native, his father was a college professor, and his mother taught in a Kentucky high school.

February 20, 2000, the Jefferson Davis Memorial underwent a $3 million renovation in Fairview.  

February 20, 2002, while Frankfort gave the electorate a zero-call list to stop telemarketers’ harassing phone calls, the legislators balked on video-gaming at Kentucky racetracks.  Meanwhile, The Decider, President George W. Bush sat down with President Jiang Zemin of China in Seoul.

February 20, 2010, reports showed that despite a struggling economy, the nation’s five largest health insurance companies increased their profits by 56% last year to $12.2 billion, even as they lost two million members.

February 20, 2015, Madison County recorded minus 35 degrees, the coldest day for a Kentucky February.  The city of Princeton in Caldwell County also recorded it in 1951.  The temperature came close to the state record at minus 37 in Shelbyville in January 1994.

February 20, 2017, a Keeneland graduate superfecta won Oaklawn Park’s GIII $500,000 Southwest Stakes for three-year-olds.

February 20, 2018, the NCAA vacated Louisville’s entire 2013 tournament run, including its national title, due to multiple recruiting violations.

February 20, 2020, after a decade of failed attempts, the state House finally passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana.  The Senate killed it.  In addition, another bill cut the corporate middleman out of Kentucky’s $1.7 billion-a-year Medicaid prescription drug business.  This passed the Kentucky Senate.  Sen. Max Wise (Campbellsville) wanted to end the leeching of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs).

On February 20, 2022, many Frankfort lawmakers clarified they wanted to legalize Mary Jane.  Other Frankfort lawmakers wanted to legalize some forms but not others, possibly creating a compromise with those who didn’t want it all.