Growth of the West

Population of the United States in 1850: 23,191,876 
Center of population: 23 miles southeast of Parkersburg, western Virginia

Population of the United States in 1890: 62,947,714 
Center of population: 20 miles east of Columbus, Indiana

Population of western states and territories in 1850 (including present—day Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Utah): 179,000

Population of western states and territories in 1890: 3,134,000

Land area of the United States and its territories in square miles, 
1840: 1,753,588 
1860: 2,973,965

Miles of railroad 
1840: 2,808 
1890: 163,597

Timeline

1833 Four Flathead and Nez Percé Indians journey to St. Louis to inquire about Christian missionaries

1836 Missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrive in Walla Walla River valley, Washington

1837 Cherokees forcibly removed from Georgia to Oklahoma by U. S. government

1841 Migration begins along the Oregon Trail

1846 Mexican-American War begins; the first stage coach line west of the Missouri, Oregon’s “Telegraph Line,” established

1847 Mormons begin trek to Salt Lake City

1847 Cayuse Indians massacre the Whitmans and 12 others

1848 Gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California

1856 Methodist bishop William Taylor publishes Seven Years’ Street Preaching in San Francisco

1857 Dred Scott Decision prohibits banning of slavery in U. S. territories

1861 Civil War begins; completion of the first transcontintal telegraph makes the Pony Express obselete

1862 Homestead Act offers 160 acres of land to anyone who will live on it for five years

1866 Episcopalian Daniel Tuttle named missionary bishop of Montana

1867 U. S. purchases Alaska

1869 First transcontinental railroad completed when east and west meet in Promontory Point, Utah

1871 Indian Appropriation Act makes tribes subject to federal law

1872 Itinerant preacher “Brother Van” (William Wesley Van Orsdel) arrives in Montana

1873 Jesse James robs his first train

1878 Taylor F. Ealy and his wife, Mary, attempt to conduct school and organize a church in the midst of the Lincoln County (N. M.) War

1881 Earps and McLaurys shoot it out near the O. K. Corral

1882 Endicott Peabody arrives to minister in Tombstone, Arizona

1883 Buffalo Bill Cody opens his Wild West show

1885 Sheldon Jackson named general agent of education in Alaska

1889 Oklahoma land rush begins

1890 Mormon “Manifesto” officially ends polygamy

1890 Army chaplain William D. Bloys starts camp meetings outside Fort Davis, Texas

1895 Federal Council of Churches in America founded

1896 Klondike gold strike attracts nearly 100,000 miners to Alaska

1897 Congregational minister Charles Sheldon publishes In His Steps

1900 Western temperance crusader Carry Nation begins attacks on Kansas saloons

1905 Sheldon Jackson investigated for mismanagement of Alaska’s schools and reindeer program

1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, led by William Seymour, sparks worldwide Pentecostalism

1909 Henry Ford manufactures the Model T

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #66 in 2000]

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