Woman in Cooktown, Queensland, 1880-1890.

This is one of my favourite Victorian era photographs. This young Australian woman is so pretty, and it’s one of the few portraits from the era where there’s no fussy hairstyle (those hideous curls they used to do at the tops of their heads!).

Taken in Queensland between 1880 and 1890.

The woman’s name is unknown.


Woman in Cooktown, Queensland, 1880-1890.

On this day: the Rochester tornado of 1883

Minnesota was hit by a series of tornadoes in the summer of 1883, but the F5 tornado that hit Rochester was the worst.

It hit at 5:30pm on the 21st of August, and killed thirty-seven. Some two-hundred were injured.

The lack of hospital facilities in the area at the time resulted in the founding of the Mayo Clinic in 1889.

Damage from the Rochester, Minnesota tornado of 1883.

On this day: the Great Fire of 1910

On the 20th of August, 1910, strong winds stirred up small fires in drought-stricken North America, creating a catastrophic situation. The fires combined into a major wildfire that burnt for two days, destroying approximately three million acres across northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana.

Wallace Idaho 1910 fire

Wallace, Idaho. One third of the town was destroyed.

Eighty-seven people were killed, including an entire twenty-eight man crew of firefighters who became known as the “Lost Crew”.

St Joe Idaho Fire 1910

Little North fork of St. Joe River, Idaho after the 1910 fire.

Entire towns were destroyed, and the smoke from the fire travelled as far away as New York State. The fire was extinguished when a cold front blew in, bringing steady rain.

August 1914

British volunteers for Kitchener’s Army waiting for their pay in the churchyard of St-Martin-in-the-Fields in August, 1914. Trafalgar Square, London.

Kitchener’s Army was formed in reaction to the outbreak of hostilities in World War One.


British volunteers for Kitchener's Army waiting for their pay in the churchyard of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Trafalgar Square London. August 1914.


On this day: the 1868 Arica earthquake

On the 13th of August, 1868, a magnitude 8.5 or 9 earthquake near Arica, Peru (now Chile) killed more than 25 000 people and destroyed much of the southern part of the country.

Arica after the earthquake (1868)

Damage in Arica in 1868

The tsunami(s) that followed crossed the Pacific Ocean and had effects as far away as Australia and Japan.

USS Wateree (1863) beached at Arica after she was deposited there by a tidal wave on 13 August 1868. Her iron hull was reasonably intact but salvage was not economical and she was sold where she lay.

USS Wateree beached in Arica

The tsunami drove three ships, two of them US ships, 800 metres inland, and did significant damage both in New Zealand (where it also killed one person) and Hawaii.