30,000 B.C.

The wheel is invented.

600 B.C.

Babylonians use tar for the improvement of roads.

500 A.D.

An early culture builds a large city, of which a large hill still remains near Cahokia, on the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis.

1150

The pueblos of Acoma and Moenkapi are founded.

1492 Christopher Columbus and crew sighted land in the present-day Bahamas (Oct. 12)

By 1500

Numerous trails traverse and criss-cross North America.

1539 – 42

Hernando de Soto makes his way across the Southeast of today’s U.S. On June 18, 1541, he and his company cross the Mississippi; a year later de Soto dies near today’s Vicksburg.

1540 – 42

Coronado, coming by land from Mexico, is the first European to enter the desert Southwest, searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola.

1542

Juan Cabrill explores the California coast.

1565

Pedro Menendez founds St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest settlement of Europeans on what is today U.S. soil.

1579

Coming from Hawaii, Sir Francis Drake explores the coast of Oregon, Washington, and Northern California.

1585

Sir Walter Raleigh sets up a colony on Roanoke Island, which soon disappears without a trace.

1607

Foundation of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia.

1608/9

The French establish a settlement at Quebéc City.

1609

The Spanish establish a colony at Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Henry Hudson, English explorer of Northwest Passage, employed by Dutch, sailed into New York harbor and up the Hudson River to Albany.

Samuel de Champlain explores upstate New York, especially the region of the lake eventually bearing his name.

1619 First Negro laborers landed by Dutch at Jamestown.

1620

The pilgrims on the Mayflower reach Massachusetts Bay late in November, landing at Plymouth on Dec. 21.

1626

The Dutchman Peter Minuit acquires Manhattan Island from Man-a-hat-a Indians for trinkets valued at $24.

1629

Foundation of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1634 Maryland founded as a Catholic colony with religious tolerance.
1636 Roger Williams founded Providence (Rhode Island). Harvard College founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1638 Delaware established by Swedish trading company.

1644

Twenty-year war against Powhatan Federation in Virginia ends with defeat and near extinction of native tribes in the Tidewater area.

1654 First Jews arrive in New Amsterdam.

1664

British troups conquer New Amsterdam and rename it New York.

1681 William Penn establishes colony of Pennsylvania.

1682

Setting out from Lake Michigan, La Salle follows the Illinois and the Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico and claims the land for France.

1692 Witchcraft delusion in New England, 19 persons executed at Salem, Massachusetts.

1701

The French establish Ft. Detroit.

1713 France yielded Nova Scotia by treaty following Queen Anne's War.
1716 First theater in colonies opened at Williamsburg, Virginia.

1735

The French establish St. Louis.

1739

Paul and Peter Mallet, two Frenchmen, establish a trade line from Illinois to Santa Fe.

1742

Setting out from French Canada, the brothers de la Verendrye enter what is today North and South Dakota and claim the land for France.

1754

The French occupation of Ft. Duquesne, on the site of today’s Pittsburgh, opens a long row of hostilities between the British and French, as well as their respective native allies. The result is the Seven Years’ War, ending in 1763 with the French losing their North American possessions to the British.

1755 British moved Acadian French from Nova Scotia to Louisiana.

1770

The first Mission of Spanish Franciscans is established in California.

1775

Lexington and Concord (near Boston) witness the outbreak of open hostilities between American settlers and British troups. It is the culmination of increasing disagreements between the government in London and colonials resenting efforts to impose a stricter rule on the colonies.

1776

Declaration of Independence.

1781

Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown

1782

London recognizes the independence of the thirteen former colonies.

1783

Treaty of Paris establishes the United States, extending the territory to the Mississippi River.

1785 Russians settle Aleutian Islands.

1787

Constitution passed by Constitutional Congress presided by George Washington.

1791

First ten amendments of Constitution, the Bill of Rights, implemented.

1792

Pedro Vials, a Frenchman, is ordered by the Spanish government to travel from Santa Fé to St. Louis

1793 Eli Whitney invented cotton gin.
1794 Whiskey rebellion in western Pennsylvania.
1800 Federal government moves from Philadelphia to Washington.

1803

Louisiana Purchase doubles the land area held by the U.S.

1804/6

Lewis and Clark lead a government-sponsored expedition from St. Louis to the estuary of the Columbia River and back to St. Louis.

1805/6

Zebulon Pike explores the Southern Plains and Rocky Mountains

1807 Robert Fulton makes first successful steamboat trip on Clermont between New York City and Albany.

Trade with Europe discontinued by Embargo Act.

1808 Slave importation outlawed by U.S. (some 250,000 slaves were illegally imported during the next 50 years).
1810 Gov. Harrison of Indiana Territory begins war with Miami Indians and their Confederates; belligerence soon spreads across Great Lakes Region.
1812-15 Congress declared war against Britain because of trade restrictions. Various unsuccessful attempts at invading Canada suggest another reason for the war.

1812/13

Traveling from west to east, Robert Stuart is the first to take the route of what is later to become the Oregon Trail.

1818/19

Border treaties with England and Spain determine the confines of Oregon Territory

1819 Spain cedes Florida to U.S.

1820

Beginnings of the fur trade in the West.

Missouri Compromise determines northern boundary of slavery.

1821

William Becknell, a businessman, opens the Santa Fé Trail

Mexico declares independence from Spain

1823

Monroe Doctrine devised by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.

1824

Trappers open up a route across the Rocky Mountains, which is to become South Pass.

1825

The Erie Canal is opened, connecting Albany and Buffalo in upstate New York.

A law introduced by Senator Thomas Hart Benton orders the exploration and mapping of the Santa Fé trail.

Fort Vancouver is established by the Hudson Bay Company and soon becomes the trading center of the Pacific Northwest.

First passenger-carrying railroad operating in England.

1826

Jedediah Strong Smith is the first white man to cross the Rocky Mountains and reach Southern California. He repeats the feat in the next year.

1827

Independence, Missouri, is founded, and soon becomes the starting point of the trails to the west.

1828 First U.S. railroad, Baltimore & Ohio, was begun.
1831 Nat Turner's rebellion, the last major slave uprising in the U.S., is crushed in Virginia.

1836

Texas declares its independence from Mexico.

The first white women cross South Pass in a wagon trail to Oregon.

The five Civilized Tribes (Cherokees, Crees, Chocktaws, Chicasaws, and Seminoles) are forced to leave their homes in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, and are sent on the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory, today’s Oklahoma).

1841

Trecks on the Oregon Trail become regular annual affairs.

First wagon train for California left Independence, Missouri, and arrived in November.

1842

Charles Preuss’ expedition provides maps of the territory traversed by the Oregon Trail. 10,000 copies of his description of the route are printed, and settlers used his maps.

1844 Samuel F. B. Morse patents telegraph.

1845

Emigrants’ Guide for the journey to Oregon and California is published.

1846

Border dispute leads to U.S.-Mexican War.

Brigham Young leads Mormons to Great Salt Lake.

1848

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the war between the U.S. and Mexico, with Mexico ceding neary half of its territory.

By agreement with Britain, Oregon becomes part of the U.S.

1849

U.S. army assumes supervision of Oregon Trail and establishes Ft. Laramie.

News of California gold rush leads to new wave of migrants on the trails.

1851

Ft. Union is established to protect trade on Santa Fé Trail.

Perhaps more than 10,000 Native Americans, some 12 tribes, participate in the conference leading to the first treaty of Ft. Laramie. Peaceful co-existence, the proposal of the treaty, lasts only for three years (before broken by whites).

1853

Commodore Perry lands in Yokohama and forces the opening of Japanese ports.

Gadsden Purchase completes establishment of borders in the desert Southwest.

1858/61

Butterfield Overland Post links St. Louis and Los Angeles by way of El Paso.

1859

Near Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake succeeds with the first oil drill.

Oregon is admitted as a state.

1860

Pony Express established, connecting Missouri and California.

1861

Confederate troups fire at Ft. Sumter.

1865

Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Court House.

1867 U.S. buys Alaska from Russia, paying $7.2 million.

1869

On May 10, a golden spike driven into a crosstie at Promontory, Utah, marks the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Women suffrage law passed in Territory of Wyoming.

1870 Great fire destroyed Chicago.
1871 Fighting with Apaches begins in the desert Southwest.
1872 Julers Verne publishes Around the World in 80 Days.

Congress founded first National Park, Yellowstone.

1876

June 25, battle of Little Big Horn, "Custer’s Last Stand."

Alexander G. Bell patents the telephone.

1877

A. L. Barber founds Trinidad Asphalt Company and provides Washington DC with an innovation, the first streets paved with asphalt.

1880

Railroads reach Santa Fé; the Santa Fé Trail falls into disuse.

1882 Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust is first national monopoly.

1883

The Santa Fé Railroad connects Los Angeles, Santa Fé, and Kansas City.

Completion of Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

1884

The Northern Pacific Railroad links Seattle and St. Paul, Minnesota.

1886

Karl Benz builds the first motor car.

In Atlanta, Georgia, John Pemberton invents Coca Cola.

Geronimo surrenders to General Miles.

Statue of Liberty dedicated Oct 28.

1888 J. B. Dunlop invents pneumatic tire.
1889 Indian Territory in Oklahoma is opened to settlers; within 24 hours, 50,000 settlers staked claims.
1890 Battle of Wounded Knee (SD), the last major conflict between Native Americans and U.S. troops; 200 Indians, men, women, and children, and 29 soldiers dead.
1892 Diesel engine patented.

Ellis Island opened as NY immigration depot.

1893

Frank and Charles Duryea of Springfield, Massachusetts, build the first American motor car.

1894 Eugene V. Debs calls general strike of railroad workers to support Pullman Company strikers. The strike is broken, and Debs is jailed for six months.

1895

The first gasoline-driven automobiles are sold by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Duryeas win the first car race, averaging 5 mph (8km/h) on a 50 mile course around Chicago.

1896

Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson approved racial segregation under the "separate but equal" clause

Buffalo, New York, is the first major American city that has its streets paved.

1898

The first "Stanley Steamer" is commercially available.

Invention of Pepsi Cola.

1899

A "Stanley Steamer" climbs Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

1900

The first steering wheel is built into a Packard "Ohio," replacing steering poles.

Cars powered by electric energy outnumber gasoline-driven ones by two to one.

Oil is discovered in Texas.

Oldsmobile introduces the speedometer.

1903

Henry Ford founds Ford Motor Company.

The Brothers Wright succeed in flying the first morored airoplane.

Winning a $50 bet, Dr. Horation Jackson succeeds in crossing the U.S. in a car. Accompanied by a chauffeur and his dog, he is on the road for 65 days.

1904

Campaigns for the improvement of roads are under way.

Henry Ford sets a speed record — 144 km/h

New York City Subway is opened.

1905

Some 75,000 cars are on American streets

1907

The first gas station opens at St. Louis.

1908

General Motors founded.

Ford introduces the Model T car, priced at $850.

1909

The first country road is being paved.

Alice Ramsey is the first woman to drive an automobile across the U.S., the trip lasting 41 days.

1910 Boy Scouts of America incorporated.

1911

The first Indianapolis 500 car race is held.

1912

In Redlands, California, the first street markings are introduced.

1915

A total of 2.3 million cars is reached.

Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road, is marked.

1916

The "Federal Aid Road Act" introduces federal financing of highway construction.

1918

Wisconsin introduces the system of numbered roads and highways.

First traffic light (with three colors) is installed.

1919

Dwight Eisenhower directs a military convoy across the country; the excessive duration (two months) makes necessary the proper pavement of roads.

1920

Prohibition begins; number of cars exceeds 6.5 million.

First regular licensed radio broadcast begun Aug. 20.

1921

The first original White Castle hamburger stand (in Wichita, Kansas) introduces the era of fast food.

1922

Doughnut tires and gas gauges are introduced.

The Ford Motor Company manufactures nearly half of the new cars and trucks in use in the U.S.

1925

The system of numbering the federal highways is introduced. The emblem used for the signs is designed by Frank Rogers.

The first motel is opened in San Louis Obispo, California.

1926

Route 66 is established, stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles.

1927

Ford discontinues assembling the model T, of which 27 million were sold.

Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast transit road, is all paved.

Charles A. Lindbergh flies first successful solo non-stop flight from New York City to Paris.

1927/28 Beginning of an extensive drought in the region of southern Plains ("dust bowl"), forcing over 1 million to migrate west.
1931 Empire State Building opened.

Al Capone convicted of tax evasion.

1932 Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly Atlantic solo.

The Great Depression following the crash of the stock market in 1929 worsened; over 12 million unemployed.

1933

End of prohibition.

1935

Howard Johnson develops the system of franchise restaurants.

The first parking meters are introduced.

1936 Boulder Dam completed.

1939

At the Universal Exposition in New York, Norman Bel Geddes advocates the system of limited-access highways.

1940

The total number of cars in use in the U.S. exceeds 20 million.

Pennsylvania Turnpike and Arroyo Seco Parkway (today’s Pasadena Freeway) are opened to traffic.

First branch outlet of Dairy Queen is opened.

1941

The monument on Mt. Rushmore is opened.

1944

The national system of interstate and defense highways is approved by Congress.

War-time rationing of gasoline is set at two gallons (7.6 liters) per week.

The nationwide speed limit is set at 35 mph (48 km/h)

1946

Bobby Troup writes the song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66," which Nat King Cole turns into a hit.

1947

Death of Henry Ford.

1949

The Volkswagen Beetle is introduced to America.

Richard and Maurice McDonald come up with their cheap and perfect fast food.

1952

The first Holiday Inn opens at Memphis, Tennessee.

New Jersey Turnpike is opened to traffic.

1955/6

In Montgomery, Alabama, a boycott of public busses ends segregation of public transportation.

1956

The system of Interstate highways is introduced. Some 70,000 kilometers of top priority roads are planned, to be built largely with federal money. First estimates of the costs are near $27 billion; until today, more than $125 billion have actually been spent.

1957

Sputnik I is launched successfully, the first earth-orbiting satellite.

Ford introduces the Edsel, the first car made according to customer’s wishes.

1958

In Wichita, Kansas, the first Pizza Hut is opened.

1959

Ford discontinues building the Edsel, having run up a deficit of $350 million.

1963

California is the first state that introduces exhaust fume regulations.

1964

The 350 hp Pontiac GTO inaugurates the era of power cars.

1974

The oil crisis has the federal government impose a general speed limit of 55 mph (88 km/h).

1984

Chrysler presents the mini van. The last part of the original Route 66, near Williams AZ, is replaced by I-40

1992

Lyn St. James is the first woman to compete successfully in the Indianapolis 500, coming in 11th.

Currently in the United States more than 175 million persons have a driving licence, more than 200 million cars are registered, and over 6.5 million kilometers of paved highways criss-cross the country.