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On This Day: May 23

1854 - First Railroad Reaches Madison

On this date the Milwaukee and Mississippi railroad reached Madison, connecting the city with Milwaukee. When the cars pulled into the depot, thousands of people gathered to witness the ceremonial arrival of the first train, and an enormous picnic was held on the Capitol grounds for all the passengers who'd made the seven-hour trip from Milwaukee to inaugurate the line. [Source: Waukesha Chronicle, May 24, 1854; Wisconsin State Journal, June 1, 1924]

1864 - (Civil War) Battle of North Anna, Virginia, Begins

This engagement on the North Anna River near Hanover Junction, Virginia, was a principal battle of the Wilderness Campaign. The 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 36th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participated. On this first day, the two sides faced off on opposite sides of the river.

1878 - Tornadoes Devastate Three Counties

On this date destructive storms swept through Dane, Jefferson, and Iowa Counties. Accounts of the storms indicate that three separate tornadoes touched down causing damage to farm buildings, land, and livestock. Two people died as a result and many others sustained serious injuries. The property loss was estimated at $63,000 in Iowa County, $43,000 in Dane County, and $23,000 in Jefferson County. [Source: The Wisconsin Mosaic]

1908 - John Bardeen Born

On this date double Nobel Prize winner John Bardeen was born in Madison, Wisconsin. Bardeen attended high school in Madison and went on to study Electrical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin where he received a B.S. in 1928 and an M.S. in 1929. After working at Gulf Research Laboratories, Bardeen returned to graduate studies in 1933 at Princeton in mathematical physics. Bardeen, along with Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley were awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for "investigations on semiconductors and the discovery of the transistor effect." In 1957, Bardeen and two colleagues, L.N. Cooper and J.R. Schrieffer, proposed the first successful explanation of superconductivity. He shared the 1972 Nobel Prize with L.N. Cooper and J.R. Schrieffer for the theory of superconductivity. He received the distinguished Lomonosov Award of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1987. In 1990, Bardeen was one of 11 recipients of the Third Century Award honoring exceptional contributions to American creativity. He was also named by Life Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people of the century." Dr. Bardeen died on January 30, 1991. [Source:]

1925 - Joshua Lederberg Born

On this date Joshua Lederberg was born in Montclair, N.J. In 1947, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin. He became an Associate Professor in 1950 and Professor in 1954. Lederberg was responsible for the organization the Department of Medical Genetics in 1957 for which he was department chairman for 1957-1958. In 1958, Lederberg was awarded the Nobel Prize for his studies of genetic structure and function in microorganisms. Lederberg has also been involved in artificial intelligence research as well as experimental NASA programs seeking life on Mars. Most recently, Joshua Lederberg is a Sackler Foundation scholar and professor-emeritus of molecular genetics and informatics at the Rockefeller University. [Source:]