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Mojave Desert History
Chronology - Timeline
1604 Juan de Onate is the first European to meet the Mohave Indians while seeking the 'Southern Sea.'
1772(?) Pedro Fages led an expedition along the edge of the western Mojave along the northern foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains looking for deserters from the Spanish Army
1776 First Caucasian crossing of desert: Fr. Francis Garces
1810 Sufficient sentiment against the missions had been stirred up that the Mojaves participated in and may have been leaders of an attack on Mission San Gabriel. (Mojave Indian history, the Spanish/Mexican period)
1819 Nuez, Fr. Joaquin Pasqual accompanies Moraga into Mojave Desert the Moraga party on a punitive expedition against the Amajaba (Mojave) Indians.
1826 Jedediah Smith explores a route across the Mojave from the Colorado River to San Bernardino
1827 The vanguard of a large party of fur trappers and traders led by Ewing Young terrorize Mohave Village. (Mohave enthnography: Explorers)
1827 Jedediah Smith returns to Mohave village enroute to Southern California and is attacked by the Mohave. Ten men of his party are killed and two women captured.
1829 Ewing Young, Kit Carson, and their 16 companions who reached a Mojave rancheria in 1829 half-dead from thirst, hunger, and fatigue and are helped by Mojaves.
1831 George Yount and William Wolfskill in 1831 arrived with a half-starved party of 20 men at the Mojave villages and are helped by the Mojaves.
1835 Lt. Robert Williamson explores the Mojave River while looking for a route to the Colorado River
1844 Lt. John Fremont and Kit Carson cross the Mojave on similar route
1844 Indian massacre at Resting Springs avenged by Kit Carson and Alexander Godey of Fremont's expedition
1849 A portion of the Hunt Wagon party, while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields, becomes the first Caucasians (Lost 49'ers) to cross Death Valley
1850 - Sitgreaves Expedition
1854 - Whipple Expedition
1857 - Beale Expedition
1857 - Mountain Meadows Massacre, 120 emigrants, including women and children, meet thier death along the Old Spanish Trail in southwestern Utah.
1858 - Aaron Lane
He had barely settled in before his ranch was raided by Indians. Other attacks followed throughout the years, and once he was even forced to ...
1858 - Rose-Bailey Wagon Train
1859 - Hoffman Establishes Ft. Mojave
1860-70 Mining strikes in and near the desert; grazing starts in the eastern Mojave to support miners
1861 Remi Nadeau arrives in Los Angeles from New England with one team of oxen
1862 - Floods in Mojave Desert
Indians and secessionists were not the only troubles besetting the area; the largest storm of record in ...
1866-68 Mojave Road used as mail route; military outposts established along the route
1871 George Englemann of the USGS's 40th parallel exploration team studies the desert and gives scientific name to the Joshua tree
1873 Remi Nadeau operates 80 freight teams hauling silver bullion from the mines at Cerro Gordo to Los Angeles
1883 Railroad completed
1893 C. Hart Merriam conducts a biological study of Death Valley
1905 - Pete Aguereberry and Shorty Harris discover what turns out to be the Eureka mine.
1905-06 Tonopah & Tidewater railroad built from Ludlow to Tonopahvia, Death Valley; abandoned during WW II
1906 Salt Lake City–Los Angeles railroad built through the desert (later became Union Pacific Railroad)
1916 Federal Aid Road Act leads to development of Route 66 parallel to the railroad
1910-30 Homesteading in Lanfair Valley
1920s Los Angeles' population doubles; one automobile for every three citizens
Las Vegas' population grows and gambling takes off during prohibition
1930s Great Depression drives many from cities to the desert for gold and for land to raise crops
Las Vegas booms again with return of alcohol; jobs from building Hoover Dam
1938 Route 66 fully paved
WWII Gen. Patton trains tank troops throughout Mojave Desert. Policy to eliminate coyotes and other destructive behaviors modify large sections of desert flora and fauna
1940-60 Military bases established in California and southern Nevada
Second railroad constructed across desert
1956 Federal Aid Highway Act authorizes interstate highways
1960s Interstate highways built across desert (I-40 completed in 1973)
post-WW II regional population explosion
1980-2000 Housing booms in Antelope Valley, Victor Valley, and Yucca Valley area of western Mojave
Population dramatically increases in Las Vegas, and in Colorado River towns with casino industry