Wyoming History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Wyoming History


Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Wyoming history.

Around 11,000 BCE, evidence suggest Native American inhabit the area now known as Wyoming, principally the Clovis, Folsom and Plano cultures. During 1100-1200 CE, native peoples construct a medicine wheel in the Big Horn Mountains. It is 25 yards in diameter and features 28 spokes extending from the rim to the center.

Wyoming became the 44th state to join the union in 1890. Wyoming was the first U.S. state to allow women to vote--an achievement that represented one of the early victories of the American women's suffrage movement. Today, although it is the 10th largest state by area, Wyoming has the smallest population of all the states, with just over 550,000 residents.

18th Century Wyoming History Timeline

1742-43 - Francois Louis Verendrye entered area of Wyoming.

19th Century Wyoming History Timeline

1807 - Fresh from the Lewis and Clark expedition, mountain man, fur trapper, and explorer John Colter stumbles upon a land where hot water shoots straight into the air, the earth bubbles as if it were boiling, and almost extinct geysers thunder as if possessed by angry spirits. He calls the area in his written reports "Colter''s Hell."

1811 - Wilson Price Hunt party, the first organized expedition through Wyoming, crossed the state on the way to Astoria, in present day Oregon.

1812 - Robert Stuart and returning Astorians crossed the Continental Divide in the vicinity of South Pass and built the first known cabin in Wyoming, on North Platte River near Bessemer Bend.

1822 - William Ashley puts an ad in a St. Louis paper to recruit able-bodied men for his new enterprise. There is no shortage of willing young men. Ashley will not build a chain of forts to manage his fur trading operation. Instead, he sends his men out alone and makes arrangements to meet them all at a central place a year later. At the predetermined time, Ashley will load up his wagons with supplies and head off to meet his men.

1824 -

  • William H. Ashley's men rediscovered South Pass.
  • The Rocky Mountain fur trappers and traders, including Indians and mountain men, begin holding most of their annual meetings along the Green River.

1825 - Beginning of fur trade rendezvous period. Ashley's yearly journey begins in St. Louis and takes him deep into the heart of the Rockies. His wagons are the first vehicles to penetrate the west, blazing a wagon road for the settlers who will follow a decade later. When Ashley finally reaches his men each year, it is cause for celebration--a wild party they call "the rendezvous."

1827 - Ashley's party took first wheeled vehicle, a four - pounder cannon, through South Pass.

1832 - Capt. B. L. E. Bonneville took first wagons through South Pass, built Ft. Bonneville near present Daniel.

1833 - Bonneville discovers oil.

1834 - Ft. Laramie, first permanent trading post in Wyoming, established by William Sublette and Robert Campbell. Military post 1849 - 1890. Most of the great Indian treaties will be signed there

1835 -

  • Rev. Samuel Parker held first Protestant service in Wyoming near present Bondurant.
  • Rendezvous missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman removes, to the amusement and amazement of the assembled multitudes, a 2-inch arrow or spearhead that had been lodged in Jim Bridger's shoulder for the preceding 3 years.

1836 - Narcissa Whitmarrand Eliza Spalding, brides of missionaries, first White women to pass over the Oregon Trail to the Far West.

1837 - Rendezvous is attended by more than 2,000 trappers, traders and Indians. Styles have already begun to change and top money is not received for the furs

1840 - First Catholic Mass celebrated in Wyoming, Father Pierre DeSmet officiating, near present Daniel.

1842 -

  • Capt. John C. Fremont's first expedition to Wyoming; named Fremont Peak.
  • Gold is discovered in the South Pass district, but the major gold rush will be delayed by the coming Civil War and will start late in the 1860s. The great migration begins on the Oregon Trail.

1843 - Ft. Bridger, second permanent settlement, established by Jim Bridger and Louis Vasquez. Military post 1858 - 1890.

1847 - Mormon migration to Utah. Mormon ferry established on North Platte River.

1849 - US Government purchased Ft. Laramie.

1852 -

  • William Vaux, post chaplain, opened first school in Wyoming at Ft. Laramie, assisted by his daughter, Victoria.
  • Peak year for emigration on Oregon Trail.

1853 - Ft. Supply, first agricultural settlement, established by Mormons near Ft. Bridger. Deserted and burned in 1857.

1854 - Grattan Fight near Ft. Laramie.

1857 - Col. Albert S. Johnston Army reached site of Ft. Bridger and established temporary Camp Scott.

1860 -

  • Pony Express started.
  • Second school in Wyoming established at Ft. Bridger by Judge William A. Carter, with Miss Fannie Foot as teacher.

1861 - Transcontinental telegraph completed and Pony Express discontinued.

1862 -

  • Ft. Halleck (1862 - 1866) established on Overland Trail.
  • Overland stage line changed route from Oregon Trail to Overland (Cherokee) Trail.

1863 -

  • Bozeman Trail established.
  • First newspaper in Wyoming, The Daily Telegraph, established at Ft. Bridger.

1865 -

  • Ft. Reno (1865 - 1868) established.
  • Battle of Platte Bridge, Lt. Caspar Collins killed.
  • Platte Bridge station renamed Ft. Caspar.
  • Powder River Indian Expedition under Gen. Patrick E. Connor.
  • The "Bloody Year on the Plains."

1866 -

  • Ft. Phil Kearny (1866 - 1868) established on Bozeman Trail.
  • Fetterman Fight and John "Portugee" Phillips' ride to carry news to Ft. Laramie.
  • Nelson Story drove first herd of cattle through Wyoming, going north to Montana.
  • Ft. Sanders (1 866 - 1882) established on Overland Trail.

1867 -

  • Ft. D. A. Russell and Camp Carlin established.
  • Cheyenne founded.
  • Union Pacific Railroad entered Wyoming.
  • Laramie County created by Dakota Legislature.
  • Wagon Box Fight.
  • Ft. Fetterman (1867 - 1882) established.

1868 -

  • Wyoming Territory created July 25.
  • Wind River Reservation for Shoshone Indians created by treaty.
  • Ft. Fred Steele (1868 - 1886) established.

1869 -

  • Wyoming Territory organized. John A. Campbell, first territorial governor, on December 10, signed the "Female Suffrage" bill giving Wyoming women the right to vote.
  • Camp Augur (later Camp Brown and then Ft. Washakie) established.

1870 -

  • Esther Hobart Morris of South Pass City first woman ever to be appointed Justice of the Peace (Feb. 17).
  • Women first empaneled for jury service (March), Laramie.
  • First equal suffrage vote cast by Mrs. Louisa Swain of Laramie (Sept. 6).
  • F t. Stambaugh founded (1870 - 1878).
  • Population is 9,118

1871 -

  • William "Buffalo Bill" Cody begins guiding hunting parties and even a Yale paleontologist through the Yellowstone and Big Horn Basin area.
  • First Wyoming high school opens in Cheyenne.

1872 - Yellowstone Park, first national park, created.

1873 - State prison is established in Laramie. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association is formed.

1876 -

  • Cheyenne - Black Hills stage line launched.
  • Ft. McKinney (1877 - 1894) established.
  • Second Powder River Expedition.
  • Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana.

1877 -

  • Agreement made with Shoshone Indians to allow Arapahoes to move onto Wind River Reservation.
  • Cantonment Reno is redesignated Fort McKinney.
  • Chief Joseph leads his Nez Perce people through the "Devil's Doorway" in the Yellowstone area during their attempted escape to Canada.

1880 -

  • Cheyenne Club built by wealthy cattlemen.
  • Wyoming's population is 20,789

1881 - Jim Bridger, famous scout and guide, died in Missouri, July 17. Buried at Westport, Missouri.

1883 - Electric lights introduced in Cheyenne.

1884 - Fremont County is organized.

1885 - Chinese Massacre at Rock Springs.

1886 -

  • Northwestern Railroad reached eastern boundary of Wyoming.
  • Cheyenne and Northern Railroad reached Douglas.
  • First county library law in US enacted by Wyoming Territorial Legislative Assembly.
  • First county library established in Cheyenne .
  • First county fair in state, Johnson County.

1887 - University of Wyoming opened.

1888 - Capitol building completed.

1889 - Wyoming Constitutional Convention.

1890 - Wyoming Territory admitted into Union as 44th state, July 10.

1892 - Johnson County Invasion.

1894 - Mrs. Cort F. Meyer (Estelle Reel) elected State Supertintendent of Public Instruction, one of the first women in the US elected to a state office.

1896 - After using a couple of other names for their town, Buffalo Bill's company picks Cody in the hopes that his reputation will bring in settlers. It works.

1897 -

  • Bighorn National Forest is established.
  • First Cheyenne Frontier Days are celebrated, beginning on September 23rd.

1898 - Jim Baker, scout and mountain man, died May 15.

20th Century Wyoming History Timeline

1900 -

  • Chief Washakie buried with full military honors in post cemetery at Ft. Washakie.
  • Population is 92,531

1901 -

  • Cody charms the Burlington Railroad into building a 70-mile-long spur to his town.
  • Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins opens for prisoners.

1902 -

  • J.C. Penney opens his first store in Kemmerer on April 13th.
  • Yellowstone Forest Reserve (Shoshone National Forest) is the first national forest in the country.

1903 - Tom Horn hanged in Cheyenne, November 20; buried in Boulder, Colorado.

1904 - Brothers Howard, Alden, and Willis Eaton establish the West's first dude ranch near Sheridan.

1906 - Devils Tower National Monument, first in US, created September 24.

1910 -

  • Willis Van Devanter, Wyoming lawyer, named to US Supreme Court.
  • Mrs. Mary G. Bellamy of Laramie first woman elected to Wyoming legislature.
  • First amendment to Wyoming Constitution ratified.
  • Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshone is completed.

1913 -

  • Prince Albert I of Monaco stays as Buffalo Bill's guest for several weeks at his lodge, Pashaska Tepee, near Cody.
  • Pathfinder Dam on the North Platte River is completed.

1918 - Uranium discovered in Wyoming, near Lusk.

1920 -

  • Transcontinental air mail planes crossed Wyoming.
  • Population is 194,402

1922 -

  • Salt Creek Oil Field opened.
  • US Secretary of the Interior leases Teapot Dome naval oil reserves in Wyoming.

1925 -

  • Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross (1876 - 1977), first woman governor in US
  • First woman director of the US Mint (1933 - 1954).
  • Teapot Dome scandal.

1927 - Guernsey Dam is completed.

1929 - Grand Teton National Park is established.

1930 - Ft. D.A. Russell renamed Ft. Francis E. Warren in honor of Senator Warren of Wyoming.

1933 - Nellie Tayloe Ross is the first woman director of the US Mint. She will serve until 1955.

1935 - State sales tax adopted.

1936 - The "bucking horse" appears on Wyoming license plates.

1938 - Cody begins its Cody Nite Rodeo. Alcova Dam is completed.

1939 - Trona is discovered in Sweetwater County. Seminoe Dam is completed.

1939 - Trona discovered in Sweetwater County.

1941 - Richard Cheney is born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on January 30th. He will grow up in Casper, Wyoming, and earn his bachelor's and master's of arts degrees from the University of Wyoming.

1942 - Heart Mountain Relocation Center established in Park County.

1945 - Junior College enabling legislation passed.

1947 - Ft. F.E. Warren became F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

1949 - Severe blizzard paralyzed entire state.

1950 -

  • First woman jury since 1870.
  • Population is 290,529.
  • Congress abolishes Jackson Hole National Monument. Most of its area is included in Grand Teton National Park.
  • Kortes Dam is completed.

1951 - The first Southern Baptist church in the state, First Southern Baptist Church, is formed in Casper by a group of families principally related to the oil industry.

1953 - The Casper-Wood River, Illinois, oil pipeline is dedicated.

1954 - Wyoming's first TV station opened, Cheyenne.

1958 -

  • Warren A.F.B. transferred to Strategic Air Command
  • First Atlas I.C.B.M. base in the world (Feb. 1).

1965 - 75th Anniversary of Statehood observed statewide.

1966 - Congress establishes Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. It is in Wyoming and Montana.

1972 - Yellowstone National Park Centennial.

1974 - Mineral severance tax legislation approved.

1976 - US Supreme Court ruling allows strip mining of extensive coal fields.

1978 - Largest radio telescope in the world built on Jelm Mountain. Operated by University of Wyoming.

1979 - July 16, Cheyenne hit by tornado.

1979 - 1980 - Cheyenne received record snowfall amount 121 1/2".

1981 - Johnson County Centennial, organized 1881.

1982 - University of Wyoming Arena - Auditorium completed.

1984 - Fremont County Centennial, organized 1884.

1985 - Freak rainstorm hits Cheyenne, 12 persons killed.

1987 -

  • Cutthroat Trout adopted as Wyoming State Fish
  • Knightia adopted as Wyoming State Fossil.

1988 -

  • Drinking age raised to 21 years.
  • More than one million acres burned during Yellowstone Park Fires.

1989 -

  • Richard (Dick) Cheney appointed as US Secretary of Defense.
  • Reorganization of State Government Act passed by Wyoming legislature.

1990 -

  • Wyoming Celebrates Centennial.
  • Legislature designates Martin Luther King, Jr./Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday (3rd Monday in January)
  • Population is 453,588

1992 - Voters approve term limitation initiative.

1995 - Wolves reintroduced in Yellowstone.

1998 - Former Wyoming Governor Mike Sullivan appointed Ambassador to Ireland.

21st Century Wyoming History Timeline

2000 - Dick Cheney is elected Vice President of the US

2002 -

  • Wyoming is named the 8th most livable state in the country.
  • Median cost of a home in the Jackson area is $625,000.
  • More than 6 million people visited Wyoming's national parks, monuments

2004 - Dick Cheney re-elected Vice President of U.S.

2008 - Wyoming rated Best State nationally for statewide litter eradication from public properties by the American State Litter Scorecord; Wyoming ranked most "business friendly" tax climate of all 50 states by the Tax Foundation

2009 - Wyoming ranked at top for fastest growing state

2010 - "Cowboy Ethics" new official state code

2011 - Environmental Protection Agency said chemicals from "fracking" had polluted groundwater near Pavillion

2012 -

  • Two backcountry skiers, resort employee killed in avalanche
  • Bison meat prices reached all-time high
  • Federal government granted permit to allow tribe to kill two bald eagles for a religious ceremony

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