Social Forces Timeline

Art and Architecture

Ceiling of the Old Mission

Approx. 1850 - Approx. 1860

12 ceiling panels hand carved by Brother Francis Huybrechts that took 10 years to complete. Every panel is unique. The middle panels were stained blue by using huckleberries.

Cataldo Mission

Approx. 1850

A Greek Revival style structure designed by Father Ravalli. This was built using only a block and tackle system, pen knife, broad ax, and an auger. (Schwantes, 96)

Rag Town

Approx. 1860

Lewiston, Idaho was referred to as "Rag Town". Buildings made of brown muslin covered poles and rafters made up much of the town during the Clearwater mining rush.


Pacific Northwest Fur Trade Era

Approx. 1780 - Approx. 1840

The rich environmental resources of the Pacific Northwest made the area ripe for exploitation.
(Schwantes, 79)

Pacific Northwest Gold Rush


The Pacific Northwest gold rush happens simultaneously with the Civil War, and helps fund Union armies.

Railroad Era

1871 - 1897

Railroads brought "industrial expansion (most notably the dramatic growth of the region's timber industry), urban development, large scale migration and political reform movements." (Schwantes, 199)

Science and Technology

Captain Robert Gray


Captained by Robert Gray, the "Columbia" was the first U.S.vessel to circumnavigate the globe. Captain Gray also discovered Gray's Harbor and the river he named Columbia. He laid the foundation for a U.S. claim to the Northwest area by charting it and "notifying European powers of the American discovery." (Schwantes, 51)

Corps of Discovery

1804 - 1806

Led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the Corps of Discovery was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to find an overland passage to the northwest in order to expand commercial interest for the United States.

George Simpson


Governor of the Northern Department of Rupert's Land (a large part of modern day Western Canada) played an important role in diversifying the skills of the Hudson's Bay Company employees, thus lessening their dependence on the fur trade. Also founded Fort Vancouver. (Schwantes, 70)


John McLoughlin runs the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company

1824 - 1846

John McLoughlin, known as the "Father of Oregon" builds an empire on the Columbia River for the Hudson's Bay Company, including livestock, substantial crops for export, grain production, and commercial farming.

Wolf Meetings


The "Wolf Meetings" were held in the Oregon Territory by early settlers who were trying to deal with wild animal attacks on their livestock. These meetings laid the foundation for a provisional government in the territory. (Schwantes, 114)

Caleb Lyon


Idaho territory's second governor. He was too refined to fit in with the "rough and tumble miners of Idaho", and skipped out of his duties as governor to escape to the national capitol. He moved the Idaho capitol from Lewiston to Boise.


Lewis and Clark Expedition

1804 - 1806

In addition to the contributions to early American explorations, Lewis and Clark kept now-famous journals that chronicled the flora and fauna of the West.

The Oregon Trail

1840 - 1860

The Oregon Trail is commonly called the World's Longest Graveyard, with a body buried, on average, every eighty yards. The major cause of death was dysentery, often due to burying people or animals in shallow graves that then collected water that unsuspecting travelers would drink, thus getting sick. In all, over 53,000 people undertook the journey to the Oregon Territory. The trails and tracks they left in the landscape are still visible today.

Orofino City burns down


After being abandoned by gold miners, Orofino City burns down. Many mining towns sprang up seemingly overnight, and were abandoned just as quickly when gold was discovered somewhere else. The effects of mining left many scars on the environment.


The start of missionary activity in the Northwest


A delegation consisting of three Nez Perce and one Flathead Indian travel to St. Louis to request the "book" and the "black robe" for their people. This provided the motivation for missionary activity in the Northwest. (Schwantes, 92)

The Whitman Massacre


in 1836, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries, travel to Fort Vancouver from New York. They are accompanied by fellow missionaries Henry and Eliza Spalding, William Gray, two hired men, and three Nez Perces. They make it by cart as far as Fort Boise, the farthest west a wheeled cart had yet made it. The Whitmans established their homestead in Cayuse territory at Waiilatpu, which became a permanent fixture for future settlers.
Cultural misunderstandings led to the tragic Whitman massacre in 1847, when members of the Cayuse Tribe killed Marcus and Narcissa and 11 others. Many missionaries left the area after this, ending an era in the history of Protestant missionaries. (Schwantes,84-88)

First Mormon colony in Idaho


A band of thirteen Mormon colonists establish Franklin, Idaho's first town. Soon thereafter Mormons constituted the largest religious group in Idaho.
Later, anti-Mormon prejudices caused great divisions in Idaho, sparking an anti-Mormon crusade from 1882-1893.
Mormon settlers sought to establish agrarian settlements in Idaho.