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On This Day: June 17

1673 - Marquette & Joliet Reach the Mississippi

"Here we are, then, on this so renowned river, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully." It's important to recall that Marquette and Joliet did not discover the Mississippi: Indians had been using it for 10,000 years, Spanish conquistador Hernan De Soto had crossed it in 1541, and fur traders Groseilliers and Radisson may have reached it in the 1650s. But Marquette and Joliet left the first detailed reports and proved that the Mississippi flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, which opened the heart of the continent to French traders, missionaries, and soldiers. View a Map of Marquette & Joliet's route.

1864 - (Civil War) Third day at Petersburg, Virginia

The Union assault on Petersburg, Virginia, continued on this day. The 4th Wisconsin Light Artillery and 5th, 6th, 7th, 19th, 36th, 37th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments took part in this four-day battle. The 2nd, 6th and 7th Infantry regiments had arrived on June 16 and spent this day continuing to erect temporary fortifications.

1965 - Wisconsin Olympian Dan Jansen Born

On this date Olympic speed skating champion Dan Jansen was born. He grew up in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, and attended the University of Wisconsin. After a long career, he won his first Olympic medal in his last competition--the 1994 Games. While winning the gold, Jansen also set a world record in the 1000 meter event. After retiring from the rink, he established the Dan Jansen Foundation which contributes to youth sports and education programs and the research of leukemia. He also worked for CBS as an on-air personality and has been known for his motivational speeches. [Source: Wikipedia article]