A Timeline of Washington State

  • Horses introduced to North America

    Horses introduced to North America
    Horses were introduced to the Native Americans around the year 1700 by Spanish explorers. By 1750 many tribes had at least a few horses. Horses would soon become a staple of many tribes and revolutionize the way they lived.
  • Lewis and Clark expedition reaches Pacific Coast

    Lewis and Clark expedition reaches Pacific Coast
    After over a year of traveling, Lewis and Clark finally reached their goal, the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Oregon Trail

    The Oregon Trail
    In 1842 Elijah White arrived in Willamette Valley, Oregon with a group of 100 settlers. The route they took from Independence, Missouri would become known as the Oregon Trail. Over 300,000 men, women, and children would embark upon this perilous journey over the next 35 years.
  • The Pig War

    The Pig War
    The death of a pig on San Juan island quickly escalated into what threatened to be war with the British Empire. After a standoff of 162 American troops and over 2000 British troops and 3 warships, the conflict was deescalated peacefully. The only casualty was the pig that started it all.
  • Whitman Massacre and the Cayuse War

    Whitman Massacre and the Cayuse War
    On November 29, 1847, the Whitman Mission was attacked and overrun by some 60 Cayuses and Umatillas. Narcissa and Marcus Whitman and 11 or 12 others were killed; 53 others were taken hostage. The Whitman Massacre sparked the Cayuse war, which lasted until 1855. The Cayuse were defeated and placed on a reservation.
  • Washington Territory is organized

    Washington Territory is organized
  • The Stevens Treaties

    The Stevens Treaties
    Following the Cayuse War, Governor Stevens worked to sign 10 treaties with Indian Tribes to move them to reservations in exchange for free industrial and agricultural schools, as well as free healthcare on the reservations.
  • Civil War Begins

    Civil War Begins
    On April 12, 1861, the Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter, marking the beginning of the Civil War. The Confederates surrendered in 1865.
  • Nez Perce War

    Nez Perce War
    When Gold was discovered on the Nez Perce Reservation, the Nez Perce were forced to move once more. Many were angered by this, and four white men were killed in retaliation. Knowing the US Army would soon take action against them, the Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph (Hin-maton-Yal-a-kit) took his people and attempted to flee to Canada. The Army pursued them, and fighting broke out. Through brilliant strategy, the Nez Perce made it to the Canadian border, but there they were forced to surrender.
  • Transcontinental Railway

    Transcontinental Railway
    In 1883 the Northern Pacific's Railway line from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound was completed, connecting Washington to the transcontinental system. Now a journey that would normally take upwards of three months could be completed in five days. The railways greatly affected Washington's growth, making it easier to bring in settlers and supplies to the Pacific Northwest.
  • Washington State is admitted to the Union

    Washington State is admitted to the Union
  • The Klondike Gold Rush

    The Klondike Gold Rush
    In August of 1896, gold was discovered in the Klondike River. Soon a mass of hopeful prospectors flocked to the Yukon. Because Seattle was the closest American port, it became the staging ground for many gold diggers. All the business and travel turned Seattle into the largest city of the Pacific Northwest by 1910
  • Women's Suffrage

    Women's Suffrage
    With women leading the progressive movement, it became evident that women had just as much right to vote as men. A state constitutional amendment was made granting women the right to vote in local and state elections, serve on juries, and hold public office. Washington was the fifth state to grant this right, 10 years before the 19th Amendment that would give these rights to all American women.
  • World War I

    World War I
    On April 6, 1917 the US joined the fight against the Central Powers. About 75,000 men from Washington fought in the conflict, and many others at home contributed to the war effort. Washington supplied lumber for the ships, airplanes, and houses necessary for the war, and some of Washington's crops were sent overseas to Europe. The war ended on November 11, 1918, and led to a massive boom in Washington's industry.
  • Prohibition

    Women headed the movement for the prohibition of alcohol, making the argument that it leads to violence against women and children. However, rumrunners soon started smuggling in alcohol from Canada. Before long alcohol was readily available to any who were willing to break the law to get it. Corruption also ran rampant, with many police officers accepting bribes to turn a blind eye to alcohol. Prohibition was repealed in 1933
  • The Dust Bowl

    The Dust Bowl
    In 1928 America faced one of the worst droughts in her history, one that would last for 12 years. Washington did not go unaffected. Dust storms plagued the Pacific Basin, and at the height of the drought 450,000 acres of national forest were destroyed in forest fires. However, conditions were much worse farther east, and thousands of migrants flocked to the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Great Depression

    The Great Depression
    On October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed in an event that would become known as Black Tuesday. This marked the beginning of the Great Depression, as banks, investors, and others went bankrupt. Unemployment rates in Washington skyrocketed to as much as 26.5%. Every industry suffered, and some people wondered if the economy would ever recover.
  • The Grand Coulee Dam

    The Grand Coulee Dam
    Roosevelt's New Deal started the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam across the Columbia River. The construction was costly and dangerous. Over 70 workers died on the job, and many more were injured. However, it created thousands of jobs at a time when people were desperate for work. The Dam was completed in 1941 and was the largest concrete structure in the world.
  • World War II

    World War II
    On December 7th, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The following day President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and the United States entered into World War II. Despite the horrors of war in Europe, business was booming in the US, especially Washington. Washington supplied Aluminum, Battleships, and Airplanes.
  • The Atom Bomb

    The Atom Bomb
    On August 6th, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The initial blasts alone killed roughly 120,000 people and the lingering radiation would kill tens of thousands more.Japan announced its unconditional surrender on August 15th, 1945. One of the research facilities for the Manhattan project was located in Washington at a place called Hanford. Though thousands worked at the facility, few knew what it was for.
  • The Cold War

    The Cold War
    The rise of Communism in Russia and it's aggressive "liberation" of many countries during WWII made many fear a war between the two great super-powers, The US and the USSR. When the USSR revealed that it too had nuclear capabilities, many people in Washington feared that they would be a target because of the Boeing factories. The Cold War lasted nearly 35 years, but there were never any direct conflicts between the US and the USSR.
  • The Civil Rights Movement

    The Civil Rights Movement
    The 1950s marked the rise of the social rights movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr. He used peaceful boycotts and protests to challenge the inequality faced by blacks. The first major victory of the Civil Rights Movement was the desegregation of schools in Brown vs. The Board of Education.
  • The Korean War

    The Korean War
    In 1950 the first major conflict of the Cold War began. Communist North Korea invaded South Korea, and soon the US and 15 other nations sent troops to help defend South Korea. It was expected to be a short war, but it dragged on for three years and finally ended in a stalemate. Of the 33,000 American casualties, 528 were from Washington.
  • The Vietnam War

    The Vietnam War
    Shortly after the end of the Korean War, America became embroiled in another conflict in Asia, one that would stretch on for roughly 20 years. The war was divisive for many Americans. Some thought that America should not interfere, while others said it was America's duty to fight Communism in all forms. American forces were withdrawn in 1973 and Communist forces took control two years later.
  • Sputnik I

    Sputnik I
    On October 4, 1957, the USSR launched the first artificial satellite, sparking a space race between the USSR and the US.
  • Environmental Activism

    Environmental Activism
    In the 1960s and 70s, people became increasingly alarmed by the effects they were having on the environment. This movement has continued to gain traction as more environmentally friendly alternatives are searched for.
  • Seattle World Fair

    Seattle World Fair
    In 1961 the Seattle Space Needle was completed, a symbol of the US Space Program. The following year, the World Fair was held in Seattle to display the science and technology of the future.
  • The Moon Landing

    The Moon Landing
    On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two men to set foot on the moon.
  • Mount Saint Helens Erupts

    Mount Saint Helens Erupts
    Mount Saint Helens exploded with a force equal to 21,000 atomic bombs on May 18, 1980. The eruption killed 57 people.
  • The Cold War Ends

    The Cold War Ends
    In 1991 the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and many other countries in Eastern Europe fell apart, marking the end of the Cold War.
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic

    The Coronavirus Pandemic
    In late 2019 the city of Wuhan China began experiencing a disease similar to pneumonia. On January 21st, 2020, a Washington resident became the first case of COVID-19 -- a novel coronavirus -- in the United States. On February 29th Washington declared a state of emergency, and on March 13th all schools were shut down. As of May 16th, 2020, there have been 19,197 confirmed cases.