Activity 3A

The People's Time Line

Students make a time line showing significant events in the cultural history of Craters of the Moon (see Deep Time and You in the Geology section).


  • Students will be able to visualize the times of important cultural events in relation to other time scales at Craters of the Moon.


1 hour


Craters of the Moon's human history is one of avoidance. The soil is sparse and poor and the minimal precipitation quickly disappears into the porous lava. The few archeological sites at the Monument show that Native Americans traveled through the region but had no permanent dwellings there. Early settlers viewed the inhospitable land with morbid fascination as they headed for greener pastures in Oregon.

Most of what we know about Craters' human history occurred in the last two hundred years, yet people have lived and died in the region for at least 15,000 years. In other words, 99% of our information on cultural history focuses on the last 1% of its time. As with geology, a time line can help to illustrate the relationships of events to time. The process can help to heighten the students' appreciation of cultural history.


  • Adding machine tape (3 or 4 inches wide by about 100 feet)
  • Pencils, pens, crayons
  • Use of a large indoor wall while your class is studying about Craters of the Moon


We recommend that you first conduct the Deep Time and You activity in the Geology section.

The People's Time Line

Have the students make a time line showing the cultural history of Craters of the Moon.
  • Choose several students to make a time line about 15 feet long.
  • Unlike the geology time line, let the range on this one be 1700 to 2000 A.D. (the geology time line counted backward from the "present.")
  • Have the students break the 300 years up into equal-sized 10 year increments. Label it "The People's Time Line."
  • When completed, affix the time line to your wall above the "Craters of the Moon Time Line," aligning the current year with "present" on the time lines beneath it.
  • Other students should make the following labels on separate small pieces of paper (illustrated if they wish) and when completed they should tape them at the appropriate place on the People's Time Line.


1924 President Calvin Coolidge sets aside Craters of the Moon National Monument.
1970 More than 90% of Craters is made a wilderness area-no roads or permanent structures can be built; people can only visit.
1833-34 Expedition where B.L.E. Bonneville says, "Nothing meets the eye but a desolate and awful waste, where no grass grows nor water runs, and where nothing is to be seen but lava."
1850s Settlers use Goodale's Cutoff north of Craters of the Moon as an alternate route to the Oregon Trail to avoid attack by the Northern Shoshone Indians.
1862 Over 1,000 settlers travel to Oregon through Craters in the largest group of settlers ever to travel Oregon Trail at one time. Led by Goodale.
1901 First geologist, Israel C. Russel, studies Craters.
1923 Geologist Harold T. Steams studies Craters.
1920 Robert Limbert walks 40 miles across Craters from south to north with a friend and a dog. The lava cuts the dog's feet; they have to carry him sometimes.
1879 Arthur Ferris and J.W. Powell explore Craters looking for water for cattle.
about 1862 Louis Arco establishes a ranch and trading post at Arco.
1969 Astronaut Alan Shepard and the crew of Apollo 14 come to Craters to see what the moon might be like to walk on.
early 1700's Shoshone Indians get horses for the first time.
1884 Early explorer George Powell finds buffalo remains in "Buffalo Cave."
1926 Craters gets its first public outhouse!
1927 Craters gets its second public outhouse!
1927 Gas is 31 cents per gallon at the service station.
1927 Boy Scouts discover "Boy Scout Cave."
1929 Craters gets its first phone.
1952 Craters gets electricity.
1959 Visitor Center is built.

Place these last two dates on the "Craters of the Moon Time Line."

  • 15,000 years ago, humans have been in southern Idaho for at least this much time.
  • by 800 years ago, Shoshone began using bows and arrows.

Activity 3B - 3C - 3D | Table of Contents | Chapter 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
P.O. Box 29

Arco, ID 83213


(208) 527-1300

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