Timeline of Human History in Yellowstone

PaleoIndian Period (~11,000-7,000 years ago)

11,000 years ago (approximately)
A Clovis point from this period was made from obsidian obtained at Obsidian Cliff.

10,000 years ago
Folsom people were in the Yellowstone area as early as 10,900 years ago—the date of an obsidian Folsom projectile point found near Pinedale, Wyoming. Sites all over the park yield paleoindian artifacts, particularly concentrated around Yellowstone Lake. Earliest Humans in Yellowstone.

9,350 years ago
A site on the shore of Yellowstone Lake has been dated to 9,350 years ago. The points had traces of blood from rabbit, dog, deer, and bighorn. People seem to have occupied this site for short, seasonal periods. People continued to leave traces of camps on shores of Yellowstone Lake throughout the archiac period until 1,000 CE (Common Era).

Archaic Period (7,000–1,500 years ago)

7,000 years ago
Vegetation similar to what we find today begins to appear. Projectile points begin to be notched.

3,000 years ago
Oral histories of the Salish place their ancestors in the Yellowstone area.

1,500 years ago
Bow and arrow begins to replace atlatl (throwing spear); sheep traps (in the mountains) and bison corrals (on the plains) begin to be used in the Rocky Mountain region.

500 to 1700 CE

1400
Oral histories of the Kiowa place their ancestors in the Yellowstone area from this time through the 1700s. More Historic Tribes

1450
Little Ice Age begins.

1600s
North American tribes in the southwest begin acquiring horses in the mid to late 1600s. Ancestors of the Crow may have come into Yellowstone during this time.

1700s
Lakota Sioux begin exploring the Yellowstone area.

Late 1700s CE to Present

Late 1700s
Fur traders travel the rivers into the Yellowstone region. Tribes in the Yellowstone area begin using horses.

1804–1806
The Lewis and Clark Expedition passes within 50 miles of Yellowstone.

1807–1808
John Colter explores part of Yellowstone.

1820s
Trappers return to Yellowstone area.

1834–1835
Trapper Osborne Russell encounters Sheep Eaters in Lamar Valley.

1840s
Trapper era ends.

1850s
Little Ice Age ends, climate begins to warm.

1860
First organized expedition attempts but fails to explore the Yellowstone Plateau.

1862
Gold strike northwest of Yellowstone.

1869
Folsom–Cook–Peterson Expedition.

1870
Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition; Old Faithful Geyser named.

1871
First Hayden Expedition.

1872
Yellowstone National Park Protection Act establishes the first national park.

1877
Nez Perce (Nee-me-poo) flee US Army through Yellowstone.

1883
Northern Pacific Railroad reaches the North Entrance of the park.

1886
The US Army arrives to administer the park. They stay until 1918.

1894
Poacher Ed Howell captured; National Park Protection Act (Lacey Act) passed.

1903
President Theodore Roosevelt dedicates arch at the North Entrance in Gardiner while on vacation.

1906
The Antiquities Act provides for the protection of historic, prehistoric, and scientific features on, and artifacts from, federal lands.

1908
Union Pacific train service begins at West Yellowstone.

1915
Private automobiles are officially admitted to the park.

1916
The National Park Service Organic Act establishes the National Park Service.

1918
US Army turns over park management to the National Park Service.

1929
President Hoover signs first law changing park’s boundary.

1932
President Hoover expands the park again.

1933
Civilian Conservation Corps established, works in Yellowstone through 1941.

1934
The National Park Service Director’s Order prohibits killing predators.

1935
The Historic Sites Act sets a national policy to “preserve for future public use historic sites, buildings, and objects.”

1948
Yellowstone receives one million visitors.

1949
Nineteen snowplane trips carry 49 passengers into the park in winter.

1955
Mission 66 initiated. The first concession-run snowcoach trips carry more than 500 people into the park in winter.

1959
Magnitude 7.5 earthquake strikes on August 17 west of Yellowstone, killing campers in Gallatin National Forest and affecting geysers and hot springs in the park.

1963
The Leopold Report is issued. Modern Management in Yellowstone

1966
The thermophile Thermus aquaticus discovered in a Yellowstone hot spring. Life in Extreme Heat

1970
New bear management plan begins, which includes closing open-pit dumps in park.

1971
Overnight winter lodging opens in park.

1975
Grizzly bear listed as threatened species in the lower 48 states.

1988
Public Law 100-443 protects hydrothermal features in national parks from geothermal development on adjacent federal lands. Summer of Fire: more than 790,000 acres affected by fires in Yellowstone.

1991
Clean Air Act Amendments require air quality monitoring at sites including Yellowstone, a Class I airshed.

1994
Congress enacts a law allowing a percentage of park entrance fees to be kept in the parks.

1995
Wolves are restored to the park.

1996
Federal buyout of gold mine on Yellowstone’s northeast border is authorized.

1998
The National Parks Omnibus Management Act is passed.

2002
National Academy of Sciences confirms effectiveness of Ecological Process Management (aka natural regulation).

2007
Yellowstone’s grizzly bears removed from federal threatened species list; New winter use plan approved for winters beginning in 2008.

2008
Gray wolf delisted and relisted to endangered species list. Judges rule against the new winter use plan.

2009
Grizzly bears returned to threatened species list. Wolves in Wyoming returned to endangered species list; Interim winter use plan approved for winters 2009–2011. Bioprospecting final EIS completed. Science agenda established for Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

2011
Grey wolves removed from the endangered species list in MT, ID, OR, and WA. Remain listed in WY

2013
National Park Service publishes final rule for winter use in Yellowstone.

2016
National Park Service Centennial.

 

Last updated: November 17, 2017

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

(307) 344-7381

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