National & State Symbols
Oregon History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Oregon
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Oregon history.
The first Native Americans arrive in the Pacific Northwest by way of Siberia and Alaska. The earliest groups survive by fishing and hunting large game. Around 8000 BCE Native American settlements are found across the geographical region now known as Oregon, with a majority concentrated along the lower Columbia River, in the western valleys, and around coastal estuaries. Many Oregon names are derived from these Native American tribal names, including Multnomah, Willamette, and Clackamas.
Following exploration by the Spanish and French, in the 17th and 18th centuries, Oregon was mapped by the Lewis and Clark expedition in their search for the Northwest Passage. In 1846, the border between U.S. and British territory was formally established at the 49th parallel – the part of the territory that was given to Britain would ultimately become part of Canada. Oregon was officially admitted to the union as a state on February 14th, 1859.
18th Century Oregon History Timeline
1728 - Bering discovered straits between the continents
1741 - Bering and Cherikoff sailed along Alaskan coast
1765 - First know use of name Oregon or Ouragon, by Maj. Robert Rogers
1774 - Perez reaches 54 degree 40' north and discovers Nootka Sound.
1775 - Heceta's voyage, passed Columbia River
1778 - Capt. Cook's visit, begins fur trade on coast
1778 - Carver's Travels published, with maps, using the name Oregon
1787 - Barkley discovers Strait of Juan de Fuca
1788 - Marcus Lopez, cabin boy of Captain Robert Gray, first person of African descent known to have set foot on Oregon soil.
1789-90 - Nootka Sound controversy begins
1792-4 - Vancouver maps the northwest coast
1792 - Capt. Robert Gray discovers Columbia River
1793 - Mackenzie first to reach the Pacific overland
19th Century Oregon History Timeline
1803 - Louisiana purchased from France
1804-1806 - Lewis and Clark expedition overland to the mouth of Columbia River
1805 - York, William Clark's slave, comes west with Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.
1810 - Winship brothers attempt settlement on Columbia
1813 - Astoria becomes Fort George under British flag
1814 - Treaty of Ghen closing war with Great Britain
1819 - Treaty with Spain fixing northern boundary of California at 42 degree north
1824 - American treaty with Russia limiting latter's southern boundary at 54 degree 40' north
1825 - Fort Vancouver, on Columbia River, founded by Hudson's Bay Company
1827 - Second Joint-Occupancy Treaty with Great Britain
1828 - Jedediah S. Smith enters Oregon from California
1829 - Location at Willamette Falls (Oregon City) by the Company
1830 - First wagons in Rocky Mountains at head of Wind River.
1832 - Capt. Wyeth reaches Vancouver overland
1833 - Fort Nisqually established on Puget Sound
1837 - Whitman and Spalding Missions established
1841 - Pioneer settlers cross plains to Oregon; first steps toward local government
1842 - Whitman hurries east to save his Mission
1845 - Reorganized Provisional Government
1846 - Treaty with Great Britain established Oregon title and defines northern boundary at 49 degree north... (concluded June 15, proclaimed by President Aug 5, 1846)
1847 - Whitman massacre; Cayuse war
1849 - August 14 - Oregon Territory established (Aug 14, 1848). Federally-appointed Governor Joseph Lane proclaim that Oregon is now a Territory of the United States. Began government March 3, 1849
1853 - Washington Territory established; Pacific railroad surveys authorized
1853-1859 - Indian wars
1854 - Oregon's Exclusion Law is repealed.
1858 - First state officials elected. Including Governor "Honest John" Whiteaker
1862 - Oregon adopts a law requiring all blacks, Chinese, Hawaiians, and Mulattos (an archaic term referring to people of mixed ethnic heritage) residing in Oregon to pay an annual tax of $5
1863 - Idaho Territory established
1864 - Montana Territory established. Through telegraphy line between Portland and California points established
1866 - Oregon's citizens do not pass the Fourteenth Amendment, granting citizenship to blacks.
1869 - Union and Central Pacific Railroads connected, May 10 (Promontory Point, Utah)
1870 - The Fifteenth Amendment, granting black men the right to vote, is added to the US Constitution despite failing to pass in both Oregon and California. This federal law supersedes a clause in the Oregon State Constitution banning black suffrage.
1872 - Modoc Indian War.
1873 - Great fire at Portland
1874 - Caves discovered and located in Oregon Caves National Monument are carved within solid marble.
1877 - Nez Perce Indian War
1878 - Bannock Indian War
1880 - The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse constructed, and is currently used as the site of the final resting place of up to 467,000 cremated individuals.
1884 - Railroad south from Portland reaches Ashland, May 5, (Completed Dec 7, 1887)
1898 - Oregon troops in first military expedition to the Philippines
20th Century Oregon History Timeline
1902 - Mr. W. E. Richards of Albany built a steam engine car. This was the first automobile built in Oregon and ran 12 miles per hour.
1905 - Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition at Portland
1907 - Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway constructed
1910 - John Burkhart is second man in Oregon to build and fly his own airplane. The old fair grounds race horse track was used as the landing field.
1913 - South Jetty at mouth of Columbia River completed
1914 - The Portland chapter of the NAACP, the oldest continually chartered chapter west of the Mississippi River, is founded.
1918 - Armistice signed, November 11th
1926 - Oregon repeals its exclusion law, amending the state constitution to remove it from the Bill of Rights.
1927 - The Oregon State Constitution is finally amended to remove a clause denying blacks the right to vote.
1951 - Oregon repeals its law prohibiting interracial marriages.
1959 - Oregon voters ratify the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
1987 - Legislature designated the Oregon sunstone as the official state gemstone.
21st Century Oregon History Timeline
2002 - Record forest fire season burned 1,000,000 acres
2006 - US Supreme Court upheld law allowing doctors in Oregon to help terminally ill patients die
2010 - 19-year old Somalian held for allegedly plotting car bomb attack in center of Portland
2012 - Oregon Ducks won Rose Bowl after 94 years
US History Overview
The word History comes from the Greek word historķa meaning "to learn or know by inquiry." History is not static. It's fluid. It changes and grows and becomes richer and more complex when any individual interacts with it.