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North Dakota History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in North Dakota
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in North Dakota history.
North Dakota was first settled by Native Americans several thousand years ago. Prior to the arrival of European explorers and fur traders in North Dakota, at least seven different groups of Native Americans lived in what is now North Dakota: the Assiniboine, Chippewa, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Cheyenne and Yanktonai (branch of the Dakota). The Cree also spent time in the area. The land that today makes up North Dakota became U.S. territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The region was originally part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories, until, along with South Dakota, it was organized into the Dakota Territory in 1861. The state was very sparsely populated until the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s, and finally became a state in 1889.
17th Century North Dakota History Timeline
1610 - Henry Hudson claimed the Hudson Bay watershed, which included much of eastern North Dakota for England.
1682 - LaSalle claimed the entire Mississippi River drainage which included the Missouri River drainage in North Dakota, for France.
18th Century North Dakota History Timeline
1713 - England receives the northern part of North Dakota from France
1738 - Pierre Gaultier de la Vérendrye, a French explorer, visited Mandan villages near the Missouri River. This is the first known Euro-American expedition into what is now North Dakota.
1742 - The sons of La Verendrye returned to the Missouri River as part of an expedition in search of a western sea. Subsequent explorers to visit this region included Jonathan Carver (1768) and David Thompson (1797), among others.
1762 - Spain received from France land claimed by LaSalle.
1763 - Treaty of Paris granted to England part of the state drained by the Mouse and the Red Rivers.
1781 - The first known business enterprise, a fur trading post, was briefly established near the Souris River, but was soon abandoned as a result of pressure from unfriendly Indians.
1792 - Jacques D'Englise (Santiago Leglise) opened trade between Mandan villages and Spanish interests from St. Louis.
1794 - René Jusseaume built a Fur Post near the Knife River.
1796 - John Evans from St. Louis ascended the Missouri River to the Mandan villages near the Knife River.
19th Century North Dakota History Timeline
1801 - John Cameron built a trading post at the current site of Grand Forks.
1802 - On March 12, the first non-Indian child was born in what is now North Dakota to Pierre Bonza and his wife, Black slaves of Alexander Henry, Jr.
1804 & 1806 - An expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark entered North Dakota and wintered near the present town of Washburn on its way to the Pacific Coast. This temporary post, Fort Mandan, was frequently visited by nearby Indians.
1806 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition returned down the river on its way back to St. Louis. Their journey marked the first major American penetration of the area and was characterized by amicable relationships with native inhabitants.
1822 - Fur Trading posts were established in the Missouri Valley.
1829 - Fort Union fur trading post was established.
1831 - Fort Clark fur trading post was established.
1832 - The Yellowstone, the first steamboat on the upper Missouri, reached Fort Union.
1834 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Michigan.
1836 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Wisconsin.
1837 - A smallpox epidemic virtually annihilated the Mandan Indians near Fort Clark.
1838 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Iowa.
1839 - John C. Fremont and Jean Nicollet explored the east-central part of the state.
1842 - The first Red River ox-cart caravan traversed trails between St. Joseph (Walhalla) and St. Paul, inaugurating a major commerce that continued for over 25 years. Major fur posts in this area were operated by Joseph Rolette (1842), Norman Kittson (1843), and Antoine Gingras (1843).
1845 - Fort Berthold fur trading post was established.
1849 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Minnesota Territory.
1853 - Issac I. Stevens crossed the state surveying the "Northern Route" for the proposed transcontinental railroad.
1854 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Nebraska Territory.
1859 - The Anson Northrup, first steamboat on the Red River, traveled from Fort Abercrombie to Winnipeg.
1860 - Regular steamboat service on the Missouri River began.
1861 - Dakota Territory was officially organized by the Federal government and William Jayne was appointed the first governor by President Abraham Lincoln.
1866 - The military post of Fort Buford (1866-95) was established.
1878 - Ranching was introduced in western Dakota Territory.
1880 - Military reserves in the eastern and central portion of northern Dakota were opened to homesteading.
1884 - Half the city of Devils Lake was destroyed by fire.
1895 - The State Historical Society of North Dakota was incorporated with Clement A. Lounsberry as president.
1897 - The first free public library opened at Grafton.
1899 - North Dakota lost its reputation as being the national divorce mecca when a 90-day residency law expired.
20th Century North Dakota History Timeline
1900 - Frank White of Valley City was elected Governor; when reelected in 1902, he became the state's first Governor to serve more than one term.
1906 - Charles Service of Park River became North Dakota's first automobile fatality.
The Liberty Memorial Building was completed on the state Capital grounds.
1929 - June was one of the driest on record in North Dakota, followed by continuing drought conditions throughout the 1930s; this period is often referred to as the "Dirty Thirties." This also marks the beginning of the Great Depression which continued until the beginning of World War II.
1934 - On July 18, the North Dakota Supreme Court disqualified Governor Langer as a result of his conviction for campaigning law violations and Lt. Governor Ole Olson assumed office.
1938 - The first hard-surfaced hiway across North Dakota (US 10) was completed.
1939 - Bismarck Junior College (now Bismarck State College) was established and its first building was constructed on the Capitol grounds.
1940 - The staff of the North Dakota National Guard was ordered into Federal service.
1944 - The Pick-Sloan Plan for the development of Missouri River waters was approved by Congress.
1946 - Construction of Garrison Dam began.
1957 - Construction began at the Minot Air Force base; this base was operational in December, 1959.
1961 - Roger Maris from Fargo broke Babe Ruth's single season home run record.
1967 - The United Power Cooperative Generation facility near Stanton was begun.
Investigation ensued following the failure of the Towner Bank.
21st Century North Dakota History Timeline
2008 - U.S. Geological Survey released assessment of undiscovered oil resources in Bakken Formation
2009 - Thousands asked to evacuate homes in Fargo due to rising of Red River
2010 - North Dakota had lowest unemployment rate in nation at 4.2%
2011 - Flooding forced thousands to evacuate Minot