Historical Timeline of Events Leading to the formation of Washington State
Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection is the product of a partnership between the University of Washington Libraries Map Collections and Washington State University's Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections. The maps of this collection have been drawn solely from the collections of these two institutions and are widely varied, ranging from large-scale geographical maps to small hand-drawn sketches of settlements. In the time period spanned by this project, the Pacific Northwest went from being considered "parts as yet unknown" to being the subject of literally thousands of maps concerned with geography, transportation, climate, population, cultures, politics, tourism, and other topics.
This timeline presents a small portion of those maps in a historical perspective. The maps chosen are not necessarily from the noted date, but are instead picked to represent the events of that date. In keeping with the wide spectrum of maps to choose from, some of the maps will provide a general overview of the event in question, while some will be relevant only to one small example of the item. For further maps related to a given event or date, please search the database using either the event or date as keywords.
40,000 to 10,000 BC: Future 'native Americans' arrive in Pacific Northwest.
1570-1800: Exploratory European expeditions begin mapping the coast of the Northwest. Sir Francis Drake is the first and a number of explorers eventually follow, most being of Spanish, Russian, or British origin.
1792: Captain George Vancouver compiles the first truly extensive maps of the Northwest coastline.
1805: Lewis & Clark reach what is a today part of Washington State.
1823: Monroe Doctrine warns other countries against attempting occupation in U.S. claimed lands.
1824: Bureau of Indian Affairs is set up in the War Department. Russia sets its southern boundary in the Pacific Northwest at 54 degrees, 40 minutes.
1825: Hudson's Bay Company sets up Fort Colville and Fort Vancouver. Both lay along the Columbia River. B
1834: The Whitman Party, including Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa and also Reverend H. H. Spalding and his wife Eliza set up mission at the junction of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Their travel route would become known as the Oregon Trail and used by thousands of future settlers.
1841: The Western Emigration Society, a group of settlers bound for California and the Oregon Territory led by John Bidwell, set off on the Oregon Trail.
1842: John C. Fremont leads an Army Topographical Corps' Expedition to the Rocky Mountains. He witnesses an eruption of Mt. St. Helens. His maps of this expedition and one the following year are printed by the government and are widely used by pioneers heading west.
1843: The Great Migration, a rush of approximately 1,000 pioneers, head out on the Oregon Trail, led by Dr. Marcus Whitman.
1844: James K. Polk becomes President of the United States. Among his four goals is the designation of the Oregon Territory's northern border to extend to 54' 40", even if through an act of war.
1853: Farmers living north of the Columbia River successfully argue for Congress to declare the region Washington Territory. It encompasses land east to the Rocky Mountains that are today Idaho and part of Montana.
1858: The first Northwest railroad, the Cascade Railroad Company, begins operation in the Columbia River Gorge. The Walla Walla and Columbia River Railroad became the second Northwest railroad in 1873, and a large number of local railroads subsequently spring up in the 1880s.
1861: The battle at Fort Sumter marks the beginning of the Civil War.
1862: Congress passes the Pacific Railroad Act, giving Central Pacific and Union Pacific Companies permission and land grants to begin construction of a transcontinental railroad line stretching along the 42nd parallel.
1862: The Homestead Act is passed, providing 160 acres of surveyed but unclaimed public land to each citizen. Title is awarded if resided on and improvements made after five years.
1871: Indian Appropriations Act states that Indians are no longer considered sovereign nations but wards of the federal government.
1872: President Grant establishes the Colville Confederated Tribes through an Executive Order, not a treaty. The reservation lands are reduced later that year following complaints of Colville Valley settlers.
1887: Dawes Severalty Act is passed. Indian lands are split into individual allotments, with remaining lands becoming public and therefore up for sale. Colville Reservation begins allotment process in 1906.
1905: Under the Dawes Act, tribal lands on the south half of the Colville.Reservation not then allotted are declared up for sale to white settlers.
1910: Women win the vote in Washington State.
1934: Indian Reorganization Act sets up Tribal Business Councils and promotes the return of communal ownership of reservation lands, in order to create self-sufficiency.
1936: Completion of Bonneville Dam.