Great Basin Region Timeline


Last Updated: 11 years

12,000-9,000 B.C.  Sites have been found indicating Paleo-Indian habitation within the Great Basin. They were small hunting groups following the mammoth, bison, camel and horse herds. 

9,000 B.C – 400 A.D.  Implements found in this area from this “Great Basin Desert Archaic Period” include milling stones.

3,000 B.C.  The lives of the oldest bristlecone pine trees in the Great Basin National Park began.

500-800 A.D.  The Fremont Culture emerged, leaving behind well-preserved sites indicating agricultural activity as well as hunting and gathering.


1300’s  Numic-speaking peoples entered the Great Basin — the ancestors of present day Western Shoshone and the Southern and Northern Paiute peoples.

1776  Escalante-Dominguez party passes through Pahvant Valley near Delta, Utah.

1826  Jedediah S. Smith expedition crosses Great Basin through present-day Millard County on their way to California in search of beaver pelts. In the summer of 1827 they came back in a direct line across Nevada and passed through White River, Spring and Snake valleys.

1842-45  U.S. Army Captain John C. Fremont expedition encircled the area and reported the internally draining basin as “truly a great basin.” His document was the first to explain the many secrets of this land of “contents almost unknown.”

1849  Howard Egan first brought livestock into the Snake Range.

1851  Governor Brigham Young designates Fillmore as the capital of Utah.

1852  Construction of Fillmore Statehouse begins.  1853 – Eight members of an exploration team headed by Captain John W. Gunnison were killed at Gunnison Massacre site west of Delta.

1853  Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Steptoe investigated the Gunnison massacre and named Mt. Wheeler Jefferson Davis Peak.

1853  Martial law was declared at the Fillmore Fort due to conflicts with the Indians which became known as the Walker War.

1855  First wing of Fillmore Statehouse was completed.

1855  Brigham Young sent a group of elders to establish a mission and plant crops in “Grease Wood Valley” (present-day Snake Valley near Garrison, Utah). Ezra Granger Williams was the first of a party to climb to the top of Mt. Wheeler.

1858  Utah capitol moved from Fillmore back to Salt Lake City.

1858  White Mountain Expedition explores the Snake Range (including Wheeler Peak) and other mountain ranges then establish a mission near present-day Panaca, Nevada.

1859  Captain James H. Simpson passes through White Pine County near what would become Schellbourne station. He called Mt. Wheeler Union Peak.

1859  Overland Stage and Mail station built at Schellbourne.

1859  Virginia City rush begins.

1859  Thomas Robinson discovers ore what will become the Robinson Mining District.

1860  Wildens establish Fort Willden at Cove Creek.

1860  Pony Express begins using Schellbourne Station.

1861  Pony Express Service terminated.

1861  First settlers arrive in Snake Valley.

1863  Telegraph runs through Schellbourne Station.

1863 Treaty between the U.S. and the Goshute Shoshone Indians defined the boundaries of the Goshute  Reservation

1865  Wildens abandon Fort Willden at Cove Creek.

1865  Fort Deseret constructed.

1867  Deseret Telegraph establishes office at abandoned Fort Willden.

1867  Cove Fort settlers arrive at Cove Creek.

1869  Lieutenant George M. Wheeler began comprehensive survey of southwest starting with Mt. Wheeler which now bears his name.

1869  Mineral City (Lane City) established.

1870  Absolom S. Lehman and Olive S. Lehman settle at 600-acre ranch near Lehman Creek.

1871  Aurum Mining District (silver) established east of Schellbourne.

1871  Leamington, Utah settled.

1872  Gold-bearing quartz rock belt found in Osceola District.

1875  Absolom Lehman’s younger brother Benjamin S. Lehman and his wife Mary started a ranch at what is now Baker, Nevada.

1878  Naturalist John Muir explored Nevada and climbed Mt. Wheeler.

1881  It is approximately this time that Absolom S. Lehman is believed to have found and explored Lehman Caves.

1881  U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey set up a heliotrope station on Mt. Wheeler.

1885  Aurum Mining District, Nevada abandoned.

1887  White Pine County seat moved from Hamilton to Ely, Nevada.

1890’s  Town of Baker, Nevada established.

1903  Town of Delta, Utah settled.

1904  Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. begins underground mining in the Robinson District.

1906, Sept. 29  First trains arrive in Ely, Nevada.

1909  White Pine County Courthouse construction completed.

1909  Theodore Roosevelt designates Nevada National Forest including land that is now the Great Basin National Park.

1914  Veteran underground mine in Robinson District closes.

1920  Millard County Courthouse erected.

1922  President Warren G. Harding issued presidential proclamation establishing Lehman Caves National Monument.

1924 American Indian Citizenship Act–granted full U.S. citizenship to America’s indigenous peoples

1930  Daughters of the Utah Pioneers re-open the Territorial Statehouse in Fillmore, Utah as a museum.

1930 Ely Shoshone Indian Reservation created

1940 Duckwater Indian Reservation created

1942-1945  Topaz Relocation Camp near Delta, Utah holds more than 8,300 Japanese-Americans behind barbed wire “For their own safety.”

1947  Utah State Legislature returns to Fillmore Territorial Statehouse for one session to commemorate the centennial. 

1958  Kennecott Copper Corporation acquires full ownership of Robinson District mining operations.

1961, Nov. 5  Fort Ruby receives designation from the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.

1975 Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act—began the evolution of tribal self governance

1979  Kennecott Copper Corporation ceases operations in White Pine County.

1986 – October 27, 1986  President Ronald Regan signed the Great Basin National Park Act.

1991  Magma Nevada Mining, Co. purchases Robinson District mining operations from Kennecott Copper.

1996  BHP Billiton merges with Magma Nevada Mining, Co. to become the new owners of the Robinson District mining operations.

1999  BHP Billiton ceases operations in the Robinson Mining District.

1999  Ely Renaissance Society forms in Ely, Nevada and begins transforming the downtown area with murals, sculptures, and historic renovation projects.

2005  The Great Basin Visitor Center is completed near the town of Baker, NV to provide an interpretive center for the entire Great Basin region.

2005  The Ely Renaissance Society purchases the Geraghty Property near downtown Ely, NV and begins renovation of the area now known as “Renaissance Village.”

2006, Sept. 20  The Nevada Northern Railway – East Ely Yards receive designation from the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.

2006, Sept. 29  The Nevada Northern Railway celebrates the 100th anniversary of the railroad reaching Ely.

2006  Highway 50 from Millard County, Utah through White Pine County, Nevada receives national designation as the Great Basin National Heritage Route.

2007, March 29  The Central Utah Relocation Center (Topaz) receives designation from the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark.