The Forest Reserve Act is passed, allowing states to set aside public forests.


John Muir helps to found the Sierra Club to “protect the nation’s scenic resources.”

The National Populist Party is formed, with a platform calling for government ownership of the railroads, free coinage of silver, and the secret ballot.


Citing data from the 1890 census, historian Frederick Jackson Turner declares the closing of the western frontier at the American Historical Association meeting in Chicago.

Naturalists estimate that fewer than 2,000 buffalo remain from a herd that once numbered more than 20 million. Rampant hunting – encouraged by a government-sponsored extermination program – is to blame.

The Western Federation of Miners is established following a labor dispute in Idaho.


Congress passes the Carey Desert Land Act, granting one million public acres to each western state for the purpose of promoting agriculture.

Sears, Roebuck and Company begins mail order business in Chicago.


Utah enters the Union.

Nebraska congressman and populist William Jennings Bryan launches a presidential campaign, and his “Cross of Gold” speech against the gold standard makes him a favorite in the West. He loses the election to Republican candidate William McKinley.


News of gold’s discovery in Alaska prompts the last major gold rush. Writer Jack London joins other miners headed to the Klondike.


Hawaii is annexed by the United States.


Photographer Edward Curtis accompanies a scientific expedition to Alaska led by Edward H. Harriman.

Following the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, the United States annexes the Philippines.


Galveston, Texas is devastated by a hurricane.


Bank and train robbers Robert Parker and Harry Longbaugh (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) escape to South America after a string of hold-ups.

Frank Norris publishes The Octopus.

Oil is discovered in Texas.


President Roosevelt signs the Newlands Reclamation Act, authorizing federal construction of dams and reservoirs in the West.

Owen Wister publishes The Virginian.


Jack London publishes Call of the Wild.

Mary Austin publishes Land of Little Rain.

The first “western” film The Great Train Robbery – directed by Edwin Porter – is released.


Railroad magnate James J. Hill found in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and forced to dissolve the holding company that controlled his various business enterprises.


The United States Forest Service is established, and Gifford Pinchot is named its first head.

William “Big Bill” Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners helps to found the Industrial Workers of the World with the goal of uniting working-class laborers in one large union.


San Francisco is devastated by a giant earthquake and fires, leaving 250,000 homeless.

President Roosevelt signs the Preservation of American Antiquities Act, allowing for the protection of certain historic and natural landmarks.

The “See America First” advertising campaign is launched to promote tourism in the West.


Edward Curtis publishes the first of his twenty-volume study, The North America Indian.

Oklahoma enters the Union.


Arizona’s Grand Canyon is designated a National Monument.


The center of the burgeoning film industry begins to shift from New York to Los Angeles.

Strikes led by the Industrial Workers of the World largely shut down the Montana timber industry.

Tom Mix acts in his first silent film, The Cowboy Millionaire.


Glacier National Park is established in Montana.

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