Timeline

Trace the history and geology of the basin in this interactive timeline.

17 million – 5 million B.P.

17 million – 5 million B.P.

Massive basalt flows form the Columbia Plateau

2.4 million B.P.

Beginning of the last Ice Age causes periglacial loess deposition in the Columbia Basin leading to the eventual formation of the Palouse region in southeast Washington.

770,000-10,000 B.P.

Missoula Floods

15,000 B.P.

Bonneville Flood

14,000 B.P.

14,000 B.P.

Documented human occupation of the Columbia Basin

Since Time Immemorial

Since Time Immemorial

Indian people have lived in the Columbia River Basin for thousands of years. Salmon was their staple of life and the foundation of their culture and economy. It was also an important part of their religion. According to conservative estimates, prior to European settlement, the Columbia River’s annual salmon returns ranged from 11-16 million fish.

1805

1805

Lewis and Clark journals noted the mouth of the Tucannon River entering the Snake River
 

1811-1832

1811-1832

Fort Astoria established – fur trapping expands up the Columbia River and into the Snake River Basin.

1832

1832

Nathaniel Wyeth, a Boston merchant,  tries unsuccessfully to establish a commercial fishery on the Columbia River.

1836

1836

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman establish a mission on the Walla Walla River, along the Oregon Trail.

1837

Marcus Whitman digs the first irrigation ditch in the Pacific Northwest.

1843

1843

Large-scale immigrant travel begins along the Oregon Trail.

1855

1855

Governors Isaac Stevens and Joel Palmer negotiate treaties with tribes in Puget Sound and interior Columbia Basin. The treaties reserved the right to fish at “all usual and accustomed fishing places…in common with citizens.”

1859

Raboin family establishes the first permanent settlement in the Tucannon Basin – ranching and small scale irrigation commence in the Tucannon Basin.

1862

Passage of the U.S. Homestead Act increases settlement of the Tucannon Basin.

1864

1864

The first salmon cannery on the lower Columbia River is established.

1867

Oscar King starts the first dryland wheat farming in the Tucannon Basin.

1868

Northwest wheat begins exporting to world markets.

1877

U.S. Desert Land Act passed to promote irrigation in the western U.S.

1879

1879

First fish wheel built on the Columbia River.

1881

1881

Establishment of a railroad between Walla Walla and Riparia, WA; ran through the town of Starbuck in the Tucannon Basin

1882

First saw mill was established at the confluence of Tucannon River and Tumalum Creek

1883

Columbia River salmon catch reaches its peak – Columbia River salmon populations start to decline due to overfishing

1887

The first salmon hatchery in Pacific Northwest is established in Oregon

1892

Large-scale irrigation begins in Columbia Basin

1894

Heavy logging begins in the Columbia Basin

1895

Cascade Locks and Canal completed

1902

Congress passes Reclamation Act; Federal Bureau of Reclamation created; Trail Smelter built on Upper Columbia

1908

Major flooding washes out the Tucannon River Road

1909

Minidoka Dam (Snake R.), first large Reclamation project

1931

Major flood event on Tucannon River and other blue mountain streams

1935

Congress creates Rural Electrification Administration (REA)

1937

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) created

1938

Bonneville Dam completed on lower Columbia River

1941

Grand Coulee Dam completed on upper Columbia River

1943

Construction of Hanford Engineering Works

1945

Hanford produces first plutonium

1952

Columbia Basin Project begins delivering water

1957

The Dalles Dam completed

1964

Major flood event on Tucannon River and other blue mountain streams

1967

Hells Canyon Dam completed (ends salmon runs to upper Snake River Basin)

1973

Congress passes Endangered Species Act

1976

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed Lower Granite Dam, the last of four lower Snake River dams

1980

Congress passes Pacific Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Act which, for the first time, mandated that Columbia River power production and fisheries be managed as coequals.

1983

Worst Columbia River salmon catch on record

1988

Snake River coho salmon are extinct

1990

Only one sockeye salmon returns to Redfish Lake in Idaho; petition submitted to place Snake River salmon stocks on endangered species list

1991

Snake River sockeye listed as ENDANGERED under the Endangered Species Act

1992

Snake River fall Chinook and spring Chinook listed as THREATENED under ESA

1995

WA DOE Tucannon Watershed Assessment; Tucannon Land Use History dissertation (WSU)

1996

Major flood event on Tucannon River and other blue mountain streams

1997

Upper Columbia River steelhead and Snake River steelhead listed as THREATENED under ESA

1999

Upper Columbia spring chinook declared ENDANGERED; Lower Columbia Chinook declared THREATENED; Upper Willamette River Chinook declared THREATENED; Ozette Lake sockeye declared THREATENED; Lower and Middle Columbia Steelhead declared THREATENED; Columbia River chum declared THREATENED

2004

Tucannon Sub-basin Plan (CCD)

2004

Tucannon Subbasin Plan 2004. Click to download.

2005

Lower Columbia River Coho listed as THREATENED under ESA; Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan (SRSRB)

2008

Columbia Basin Tribes and BPA establish the Columbia Basin Fish Accords, a 10 year agreement in which BPA set aside money for tribally managed salmon restoration projects

2011

Tucannon River Geomorphic Assessment and Habitat Restoration Study (Anchor QEA)

2012

Tucannon River Conceptual Restoration Plan (Anchor QEA)