Oregon History: Chronological Events - 1543-1850

map of Sir Francis Drake's travels
A map showing Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 to 1580. (Image via Wikimedia) Enlarge image
Bartolome Ferrelo possibly reaches southwest coast
Manila Galleon trade route opens across North Pacific
Sir Francis Drake allegedly visits Oregon
Sebastian Vizcaino possibly sights Cape Sebastian
San Francisco Xavier probably wrecks at Nehalem
Pierre Gaultier de la Verendrye leads first expedition into Oregon
First use of word "Ouragon" in Maj. Robert Rogers' petition to explore American West
Capt. Juan Perez sails to Northwest Coast for Spain
Capt. Bruno Hezeta sees mouth of Columbia and names it Rio San Roque
First smallpox outbreak among Oregon’s indigenous people
Capt. James Cook makes landfall at Cape Foulweather and discovers fur wealth of Northwest Coast
Capt. Robert Gray trades with tribes in Tillamook Bay
Marius Lopius, African traveling with Gray, probably killed at Tillamook
Capt. Robert Gray enters and names the Columbia River
Capt. George Vancouver expedition charts Columbia estuary
 Lt. William E. Broughton names Mount Hood after British naval officer Alexander Arthur Hood
Second smallpox outbreak among Oregon’s tribes
map of the Louisiana Purchase
A map showing the territory associated with the Louisiana Purchase. (Image via Wikimedia) Enlarge map
Louisiana Purchase extends United States to Rocky Mountains
President Thomas Jefferson dispatches Lewis & Clark Expedition
Lewis & Clark Expedition explores lower Snake and Columbia Rivers and establishes Fort Clatsop
Lewis & Clark Expedition returns to the United States
John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company establishes Fort Astoria
Overland Astorians discover South Pass in Wyoming, later route of Oregon Trail
North West Company purchases Fort Astoria and names it Fort George
First English woman, Jane Barnes, visits Fort George
First domestic livestock imported by sea from California
William Cullen Bryant refers to "Oregon" in poem Thanatopsis
North West Company establishes Fort Nez Perce
James Biddle and John Prevost assert United States interests in Oregon
U.S. and Great Britain agree to "joint occupancy" of Oregon
Adams-Onis Treaty cedes Spain's discovery rights north of 42 degrees to the U. S.
Hudson's Bay Company subsumes North West Company
U.S. and Russia agree to 50 degrees as southern boundary of Russian interests
Dr. John McLoughlin begins long tenure as Chief Factor for Hudson's Bay Company
drawing of Fort Vancouver
Fort Vancouver played a key role in the early development of the Oregon Country. See large ​version of this hand-colored lithograph Courtesy of the Oregon History Project​
Workmen build Fort Vancouver on Columbia River
U.S. and Great Britain agree to indefinite "joint occupancy"
First sawmill begins cutting lumber near Fort Vancouver
Jedediah Smith’s party travels overland from California but Indians kill 15 men on the Umpqua River
First grist mill starts making flour at Fort Vancouver
Dr. John McLoughlin establishes claim at Willamette Falls, later Oregon City
Fever pandemic begins calamitous death toll of tribes
Newspapers report four Indians from Pacific Northwest in St. Louis seeking missionaries
Nathaniel Wyeth enters Oregon fur trade
Capt. B. L. E. Bonneville arrives overland to trap and trade for furs on Columbia Plateau
Hudson's Bay Company establishes Fort Umpqua at Elkton
First school opens at Fort Vancouver
First lumber exports by Hudson's Bay Company to China
Jason Lee's party establishes Methodist Mission near Wheatland
John K. Townsend and Thomas Nuttall collect natural history specimens
First steamship Beaver begins service for Hudson's Bay Company on the Columbia River
Lt. William Slacum mounts reconnaissance of western Oregon
Whitman-Spalding mission party, including Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding, arrives overland via Oregon Trail
Washington Irving publishes Astoria
Willamette Cattle Company drives livestock overland from California
Priests Blanchet and Demers arrive overland from Canada
Catholics establish mission at St. Paul
Lt. Charles Wilkes mounts reconnaissance with U.S. Exploring Expedition
Ewing Young's death leads to public meetings
First Catholic boys' school founded at St. Paul
First ship, Star of Oregon, built by settlers
Methodist missionaries found the Oregon Institute in Salem, an antecedent to Willamette University
First brick building, a house, erected by George Gay in Polk County
First large migration of over 900 emigrants arrives via Oregon Trail
Lt. John C. Fremont mounts reconnaissance of Oregon Trail
"Wolf Meetings" lead to Provisional Government
Oregonians submit petition to Senate seeking U.S. jurisdiction
photograph of Oregon City town
Oregon City, shown here in an 1867 Carle​ton Watkins photo, was a destination for many travelers to the Willamette Valley. Enlarged image courtesy Oregon History Project​.
First plat surveyed for a town at Oregon City
First Catholic girls' school founded at St. Paul
 Acts to prohibit slavery and exclude blacks and mulattoes from Oregon Territory were passed and the “Lash Law” enacted requiring Blacks – “be they free or slave – be whipped twice a year until he or she shall quit the territory”
Meek Cut-off opens as alleged short-cut to Oregon Trail
Estimated 3,000 overland emigrants arrive
Oregonians petition Congress for federal services
First Provisional governor, George Abernethy, elected
Francis Pettygrove and A. L. Lovejoy name Portland and commence plat of city
Lt. Neil Howison mounts reconnaissance of western Oregon
Barlow Road opens as toll route
Applegate Trail opens as alternative to Oregon Trail
Oregon Treaty affirms U.S. sovereignty to Pacific Northwest
First newspaper, Oregon Spectator, founded in Oregon City
Cayuse Indians attack Whitman Mission
Oregon Volunteers engage in Cayuse Indian War
First postmaster, John Shively, named at Astoria
First English book, a Blue Back Speller, printed in Oregon City
Joseph Meek carries petition east seeking federal "patronage"
Organic Act creates Oregon Territory
James Marshall discovers gold in California
First U.S. Customs Service office opens in Astoria
First territorial governor, Joseph Lane, assumes duties
First Mounted Riflemen of U.S. Army arrive overland
First "Beaver" gold coins minted in Oregon City
Congress passes Oregon Donation Land Act
First capital punishment—five Cayuse are hanged in Oregon City
Investors start printing The Oregonian in Portland
Census enumerates 11,873 Oregonians

1851-1900 >