Mountain West History

Home of the United States' most dazzling natural beauty. Escape hatch for the rugged individualist. There is a long history of mining, ranching, and personal autonomy in this vast, sparsely populated area.

Geoworld -- "Prehistoric Wyoming"

A remarkable number of well-preserved fossils have been extracted from Wyoming, including some stromatolites dated at nearly 2 billion years old.

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  • c.10000 B.C. - First American Indians arrive in the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding deserts.
  • c.1200 - The largest Pueblo cliff-dwellings are constructed in the southwest.
  • 1608 - Santa Fe is founded in New Mexico and soon becomes the capital of that region. It develops as a remote outpost of colonial Spain.
  • 1680 - Pueblo Revolt temporarily drives the Spaniards out of New Mexico.
  • 1803 - The Louisiana Purchase doubles the size of the United States.
  • 1847 - Mormon settlers, fleeing from the eastern United States, arrive at the Great Salt Lake and establish the area's first towns.
  • 1848 - United States greatly expands its territory in the West/Southwest after the Mexican-American War, in the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo.
  • 1859 - The silver boom in America begins when the Comstock Lode is struck in Nevada. Silver mining becomes a backbone of the Western economy through the 1890s.
  • 1869 - The "golden spike" is driven, completing the First Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah.
  • 1869 - Wyoming becomes the first territory to grant women the right to vote.
  • 1874 - Joseph Glidden patents barbed wire, which revolutionizes the western cattle industry and the overall landscape.
  • 1890 - The Wounded Knee Massacre is the final chapter in the subjugation of the Western Indian tribes.
  • 1931 - The legalization of gambling in Nevada leads to the first casino hotels in Las Vegas. By the 1960s the city is one of the central tourist destinations of the United States.
  • 2007-2009 - After a long boom, real estate values collapse by almost 50% in some areas of Phoenix and Las Vegas, due to the subprime mortgage crisis.