A Chronology of Small Towns in Oregon
Thousands of years before present
Native Americans inhabit the region we define as Oregon today.
1700s
Spanish galleons explore the coast of Oregon.
1792
Captain Robert Gray enters the river we now call the Columbia and names it after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva.
1800s
Oregon's streams, rivers, and lakes teem with beaver, and trade in beaver pelts attracts explorers, trappers, and traders to the region.
1804-1806
Captains Lewis and Clark travel with their party from Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia River. President Thomas Jefferson believes a settlement at Astoria will be a key to expanding the American empire west all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
1811
Astoria is established by the Pacific Fur Company.
1827
The first sawmill is built in the Pacific Northwest.
1829
Dr. John McLoughlin founds a town at Willamette Falls which later becomes Oregon City. Hall Jackson Kelley organizes the "American Society for Encouraging the Settlement of the Oregon Territory."
1833
The first shipment of Oregon timber is sent to China.
1836
Missionaries led by Jason Lee arrive at Fort Vancouver, and later establish the Willamette Mission near Salem.
1838
The first cattle drive of the West arrives in Oregon from California.
1840
The Willamette Valley receives cattle from the California surplus. Farming and stock-raising with Andalusian blacks supplant the fur economy in the Willamette Valley.
1843
Civil government is established in the Oregon Country. Major immigration to Oregon begins along the Oregon Trail, with over 53,000 people traveling the Oregon Trail between 1840 and 1850.
1844
Acts to prohibit slavery and to exclude blacks and mulattoes from Oregon are passed.
1845
Small town of Portland is platted along Willamette River - only 16 blocks.
1848
The Oregon Territory is organized.
1850
Donation Land Claim law is passed, causing more settlers to move to the Oregon Territory. Congress provides for the renegotiation of treaties with the Indians of the territory. Gold is discovered in the Rogue River Valley, leading to the establishment of cities and towns in Southern Oregon. Population of Oregon is 12,093.
1851
Portland is incorporated as a city.
1851-52
Gold is found along Jackson Creek in southern Oregon.
1853
Joel Palmer becomes Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He later implements the reservation system in Oregon.
1853-55
Rogue River Indian Wars are fought.
1855
Treaties are signed with the Columbia River tribes. The tribes cede most of their lands, but reserve exclusive rights to fish within their reservations and rights to fish "at all usual and accustomed places…"
1859
Congress ratifies the Oregon State Constitution, and the state accepts the congressional proposal to be admitted to the Union as the 33rd state.
1860s
Daily stagecoach line is established between Portland and San Francisco. Frontier minister Thomas Condon pronounces John Day Fossil Beds a "scientific treasure."
1860
Population of state is 52,465.
1862
Congress passes the Homestead Act, allowing 160 acres to those who will live on and work the land. Gold is discovered in eastern Oregon, in Baker and Grant counties. Baker City becomes known as "Queen City of the Mines."
1864
Salem is voted the state capital. Transcontinental telegraph service to Portland via California is begun.
1867
The first salmon cannery on the lower Columbia River begins production.
1870
Population of state is 90,923.
1873
Modoc Indian war.
1877
Nez Perce Indian War. Chief Joseph states, "I will fight no more forever."
1880
Population of state is 174,768.
1934
The transcontinental railroad is completed.
1883
Grand Ronde Indian Community, Inc. is formed.
1885
The first Northwest paper mill is built on the Columbia River at Camas.
1887
Oregon-California railroad is built. Local railroads throughout Oregon are built.
1890
Population of state is 317,704.
1900
Rail lines extend into Prineville, Lakeview, and later Redmond, Burns, and Bend, all of which become active cow and sheep towns. The railroad makes Shaniko one of the world's principal wool markets. Population of state is 413,536.
1912
Railroad bypasses Gardiner, connecting to Florence.
1964
Coos Bay is selected as Southern Pacific Railroad terminal.
1916
Federal District Court in Sohappy v. Smith affirms Indian treaty fishing rights in Columbia River.
1920s
The United States enters World War I.
1920
Population of state is 783,389.
1929
The Great Depression begins.
1930
Population of state is 953,786.
1933
Oregon Coast Highway is finished.
1938
Oregon passes Washington as the leading timber producer in the nation.
1940
Population of state is 1,089,684.
1941
The United States enters World War II.
1942
Camp Adair founded near Albany. From 1942-1947 it is the second largest city in Oregon, with 50,000 soldiers and prisoners of war.
Mid 1940s
The lumber industry begins to convert to a diversified forest products industy.
1947
Oregon has 1,573 lumber mills, turning out more than 7 billion board feet.
1950
Population of state is 1,521,341.
1960
Population of state is 1,768,687.
1968
First grapes are planted in Oregon for wine industry.
1970
The National Environmental Policy Act is passed. Population of state is 2,091,533.
1971
The Oregon Forest Practices Act, the first of its kind in the United States, requires resource protection during logging.
1973
Statewide land use planning is approved. Congress passes the Endangered Species Act.
1974
John Day Fossil Beds are designated a national monument.
1978
Kinzua, Fossil's largest employer, is closed.
Early 1980s
A coalition of ranchers, miners, loggers, developers, farmers, and others create the Sagebrush Rebellion and argue for more local control over land management and natural resources.
1980
Population of state is 2,633,321.
1989
Oregon Shines, a statewide vision for the future of Oregon, is adopted.
1990
Population of state is 2,842,321.
1997
Fossil establishes its first Internet access line.
Present
1,000 small towns exist in Oregon. One out of four Oregonians live in small towns. In 2000 population of Oregon is 3,421,399.
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