Wyoming History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

Evidence of prehistoric human occupation across this rugged land dates back more than 12,000 years.

Plains Indians including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone and Ute tribes lived here as the first handful of fur hunters and explorers arrived.

Little is known about those early adventurers, but France, Britain, Mexico and Spain all laid claim to parts of the land. Regardless, this was Indian Territory and remained so well into the 19th century.

In 1800, as Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies moved across Europe, pushing Spain to the corner, the Louisiana Territory (New Orleans) and a huge chunk of land in the now central United States (including much of Wyoming) cededFrance Spain through the agreement.

In 1803, with military pressures mounting, Napoleon approved the sale of the entire area to the United States in a deal called the Louisiana Purchase and the United States doubled in size almost overnight.

John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition ,and the first white man known to have entered present-day Wyoming, was made famous by exploring the Yellowstone area in 1807. His stories of geysers, hot springs, and other spectacular sites created quite a movement. in the east – many considered it a big lie. His explorations were followed by a long line of rugged “Mountain Men”

who roamed the west along a pass route that would later be called the Oregon Trail. In fact, the first trainload of eastern settlers bound for California, Oregon, and the Pacific made their way through here in 1832.

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By the early 1840s, small frontier trading posts were springing up as frequent caravans moved west along the trail. Many of those settlers simply stopped and settled in Wyoming, and conflicts with the American Indians were inevitable and unavoidable.

The southwestern area of ​​present-day Wyoming was received by the United States in the 1846 Oregon Treaty with Great Britain. In 1869 the Wyoming Territory (including parts of the Dakota, Utah and Idaho territories) was organized and a governor appointed.

The Union Pacific Railroad changed the American west forever, and Wyoming was no exception; its population grew rapidly, with thousands of settlers arriving as well as cattle ranchers and sheep herders – moving north from Texas. At that time, huge herds of buffalo still infested this original land of the American Indians of the Plains. The Indians, in order to survive, fought back against the expanding population. Legendary battles between the American Cavalry and the Indian forces (led by Crazy Horse and Red Cloud) resulted in heavy casualties for both sides. In the end, all remaining (repressed) Indians were moved to the reservation.

Statehood was on the minds of many, and in 1888, the Wyoming Territory sent the American Congress formally petitioned for admission to the Union, but this was initially denied. On July 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state and the Cheyenne Capitol.

In the 20th century, Wyoming’s economy was supported by the chemical and oil industries; uranium discovery and mining, and coal mining and subsequent power generation.

Tourism has clearly placed it on the world map as the state contains more than its share of stunning natural wonders with Yellowstone National Park topping the list.

Rich cowboy campfires chronicle Wyoming history, frontier settlers, Indian cultures and old western towns, and here you can easily catch a glimpse of that past surrounded by one of America’s most scenic landscapes.

Wyoming timeline

1700s – 1800s

  • (1742-1743) François Louis Verandin entered Wyoming, discovered the Great Horn Mountains
  • (1803) Louisiana Purchase ended, included present Wyoming
  • (1806) American John Colter discovered Yellowstone, called Colter’s Hell area; explored Teton Mountains
  • (1812) Robert Stewart found the South Passing through the Rocky Mountains
  • (1822) General William Ashley established a trading post on the Yellowstone River
  • (1827) Ashley’s group boarded first a wheeled vehicle, a four-pounder cannon, across the South Passage
  • (1830) Kit Carson arrived in Wyoming
  • (1832) Captain B. L. E. Bonneville brought the first wagons through the South Passage; established Fort Bonneville
  • (1833) Bonneville discovered oil near the Wind River Mountains
  • (1834) First permanent trading post, Laramie set
  • (1842) Fort Bridger established; Captain Fremont led expedition to Wyoming, discovered Fremont Peak; Gold discovered near the South Passage
  • (1849) US bought Fort Laramie
  • (1854) The Grattan Massacre took place near Fort Laramie
  • (1867) Cheyenne founded; Transcontinental Railroad entered Wyoming
  • (1868) Wyoming Territory created
  • (1869) Women gained the right to vote
  • (1872) Yellowstone Park became the first national park
  • (1877) Arapaho Indians moved into the Wind River Reservation
  • (1885) The Chinese Massacre took place at Rock Springs
  • (1890) Wyoming admitted to the Union as 44th state
  • (1897) The first Cheyenne Frontier Days are celebrated


  • (1906) Devils Tower erected, first national monument in the US.
  • (1918) Prohibition passed; uranium discovered near Lask
  • (1923) Kemmerer mine explosion killed ninety-nine
  • (1925) Nellie Taylo Ross became the first female governor in the US; The teapot dome scandal happened
  • (1933) Nellie Taylo Ross named the first female director of the American Mint
  • (1949) A snowstorm paralyzed the entire state
  • (1978) The world’s largest radio telescope was built on Mount Jelm
  • (1979 – 1980) Cheyenne got 121 inches of snow
  • (1988) Devastating fire in Yellowstone National Park burned more than one million acres


  • (2000) Dick Cheney elected Vice President of the United States.
  • (2002) More than 6 million people visited Wyoming national parks, monuments
  • (2004) Dick Cheney re-elected Vice President of the United States.
  • (2008) Wyoming ranked Best State nationally for statewide waste disposal from public properties by US State Garbage Scorecord; Wyoming rated the most “business friendly” tax climate of all 50 states by the Tax Foundation
  • (2009) Wyoming ranked at the top for fastest growing state
  • (2010) “Cowboy Ethics” New Official State Code
  • (2011) EPA said chemicals from “fracking” contaminated groundwater near the Pavilion
  • (2012) Two backcountry skiers contact employee killed in avalanche
  • (2012) Bison meat prices hit an all-time high
  • (2012) The federal government gave permission to allow a tribe to kill two bald eagles for a religious ceremony

Wyoming History