Oregon History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Oregon History

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

1811 -

  • Astor fort established near mouth of Columbia
  •  Tonquin disaster, Fort Okanogan founded

1813 - Astoria becomes Fort George under British flag

1814 - Treaty of Ghen closing war with Great Britain

1818 -

  • Astoria returned to US. Old Fort Walla Walla founded by North West Company
  • First Joint-Occupancy Treaty 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

  • Fort Hall established in southern Idaho
  • Methodist Mission in Willamette Valley established under Jason Lee

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

1843 -

  • Great immigration; first wagons westward from Fort Hall
  • Provisional Government begun, May 2nd

1844 -

  • First house erected in Portland
  • Slavery is declared illegal in the Oregon Country.

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

1848 -

  • California gold discovery
  • Oregon's Provisional Government passes the first Exclusion Law in the Oregon Country following the Whitman Massacre in 1847.

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

1850 -

  • Steamship mail service from San Francisco to Columbia River established
  • The Oregon Donation Land Act becomes law, granting free land to "whites and half-breed Indians" in the Oregon Territory.

1851 -

  • Jacob Vanderpool, a saloonkeeper living in Salem, becomes the only person known to have been kicked out of the Oregon Territory because of his skin color.
  • February 8 - City of Portland Incorporated

1853 - Washington Territory established; Pacific railroad surveys authorized

1853-1859 - Indian wars

1854 - Oregon's Exclusion Law is repealed.

1857 -

  • Constitutional convention at Salem, August and September. (Ratified by popular vote on 2nd Monday of Nov)
  • The pro-slavery separatists in southern Oregon bring an amendment to vote but again fail to carve a new federal Territory out of the southwestern region of the Oregon Territory.

1858 - First state officials elected. Including Governor "Honest John" Whiteaker

1859 -

  • February 14 - Oregon becomes the first state admitted to the Union with an exclusion law written into the state constitution. Propositions of Congress accepted by the State 3 June 1859
  • "Oregon Democrat" newspaper begins printing.

1861 -

  • The Civil War begins in the East.
  • December 1 - ALbany worst flood in known history - waters were 36 feet higher than normal.

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.

1868 -

  • Railroad building Oregon to California begun. First cargo of wheat shipped to foreign parts
  • Fourteenth Amendment passes in Oregon.

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.

1883 -

  • North Pacific last spike celebration Sept 8; Oregon Railway and Navigation line connected at Ainsworth. Completed to Huntington, 1884)
  • An attempt is made to amend the Oregon Constitution to remove its ban on black suffrage. The effort fails despite the fact that the clause in question was rendered moot following the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, as noted above. Further attempts to remove the language prohibiting blacks from voting were made in 1895, 1916, and 1927.

1884 - Railroad south from Portland reaches Ashland, May 5, (Completed Dec 7, 1887)

1898 - Oregon troops in first military expedition to the Philippines

1865 -

  • The Civil War ends at Apomattox Courthouse.
  • The Thirteenth Amendment, banning slavery in the United States, passes by referendum in Oregon.

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.

1917 -

  • High above the city of Portland the International Rose Test Garden features more than 500 varieties of roses cultivated continuously since 1917
  • North Jetty completed; forty-two feet at mean low water at the mouth of Columbia River
  • Mobilization of Oregon Guard, March 25; war declared April 6th

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

2004 -

  • Attorney Brandon Mayfield taken into custody by FBI in connection with March terror attacks in Madrid;
  • Archdiocese of Portland first in US to declare bankruptcy, cannot meet cost of claims by people allegedly abused by priests

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

2011 -

  • Former Native American students at Jesuit schools awarded settlements for abuse
  • Occupy protesters blocked work at three of Port of Portland terminals

2012 - Oregon Ducks won Rose Bowl after 94 years

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