Before 1500

500 – 350,000,000 B.C.E: What is now southwestern Oregon-northwestern California was part of the floor of an ocean basin, most likely near the edge of an oceanic “plate” which was being drawn beneath a volcanic chain of islands. Some metamorphosed sediments in the “Siskiyou” portions of the Klamath Mountains may date from this era – if so, they are among the oldest exposed rocks in Oregon.

230 – 180,000,000: The general geological environment was probably
somewhat similar to that of the volcanic chain of the Aleutian. Deposition of vast amounts of marine and volcanic sediments in a major ocean “trough”.

180 – 130,000,000: Continued deposition of ocean sediments and lavas in deep basins along the flanks of large underwater volcanoes. Many geologists believe that these rocks and the older formations discussed above originally formed far south of their present location and drifted slowly north, coning to rest in their present position at about the time of the last dinosaurs The Klamath Mountain rocks were evidently first raised above sea level during this period.
Erosion of Klamath Mountains and consequent build-up of continental deposits.

130 – 75,000,000: Further uplift of what is now the Klamath Mountain Province; deposition of sediments in the adjacent shallow sea; these are presently exposed near Ashland, Jacksonville and other portions of the Bear Creek Valley. Cretaceous plant fossils [fern,cycad, gingko] now exposed on southern Oregon coast near Port Orford indicate a moist, semi-tropical climate during Cretaceous times.

60,000,000: Cascade Range begins forming.

50,000,000: Present day Upper Klamath Basin is in the Pacific Ocean.

50 – 10,000,000: The climate of the Cascades during the early Tertiary period
was sub-tropical. Western Cascades experienced continued deposition of huge quantities of volcanic ash, breccias, agglomerates and flows from many separate vents. There was also continued uplift and tilting of the Western Cascades to the eastward, with continuing erosion. Late Miocene fossil pollen profiles from elsewhere in Oregon reflect the growing dominance of conifers, due to major cooling trend.

15,000,000: Extension, the process of pulling the earth’s crust apart, created Tule Lake.
 Volcanic activity in the area began 15 million years ago. Active lava flows in the
 area are as recent as 1,000 years ago.

10 – 2,000,000: This period also witnessed the “final” major
uplift of the Klamath Mountains. The “rain shadow” effect of the young High
Cascades had a pronounced impact by the mid-Pliocene Epoch. Late Miocene fossil pollen profiles from elsewhere in Oregon reflect the growing dominance of conifers, due to major cooling trend. Few fossil localities are known for this period (aside from marine shells near Cape Blanco, freshwater mollusks near Klamath Falls and tapir in Curry County), but the climate was cooling and drying. Early human-like species were developing in Africa during the mid-to-late Pliocene.

2,000,000 – 250,000: The Pleistocene Epoch witnessed the continued build-up of the crest of the High Cascades as large composite volcanoes (e.g., Rainier, Adams, Hood, Mazama) erupted and grew along a major fault series of north-south lineation.

750,000: Violent eruptions begin to shape the Cascade Range.

700,000: Mt. McLoughlin began its initial build-up.

500,000: Medicine Lake Volcano is a shield volcano similar to the Hawaiian Volcanoes.
 Over the last half-million years it has been built up by successive outpourings of lava, 
creating a shield-like form.

400,000: Mt. Mazama formed.

300,000: Mt. Shasta started to form.

275,000: Cinders begin erupting through the shallow waters of Tule Lake.

250,000: 12,000: Volcanic events during this period included continued eruptions and flows from major peaks of the High Cascades.

100.000: Mt. McLoughlin begins to form.

48,000: Cone building on Mt. Mazama.

40,000: It is theoretically possible for people to have entered North America from Asia at repeated intervals by land between 40,000 and 13,000 years ago. The general consensus is whether on land, along Bering Sea coasts or across seasonal ice, humans crossed Beringia from Asia to enter North America about 13,000 or more years ago.

25,000: Mt. Mcloughlin is mature. The continued glacial/inter-
glacial sequence in the Pacific Northwest left evidence in the form of U-
shaped canyons, till soils, moraines, cirque lakes, etc., in the southern
High Cascades and, to a lesser extent, in some sections of the Klamath
Mountains. There was on-going erosion and alluvial deposition (including
gold placers) in the Klamath Mountains.

15,000: Late flows on the north slope of Mt. McLoughlin.

13,000: Ancient Modoc Lake was almost 75 miles long and covered 1,000 square miles with at least 400 miles of shoreline, including Upper Klamath Lake, Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake, at an surface elevation of over 4,200 feet. The climate begins to warm.

12,000: First human inhabitants in the Upper Klamath Basin.

12,000 – 4,000: Geologic events in the High Cascades included eruption of lavas, formation of cinder cones and deposition of volcanic mudflows.

8,000: West Coast glaciers begin to recede. Climate was relatively mild and moist until around 8,000 years B.P., evidently changing into a 3,000-4,000 year-long period of drier, hotter weather (which reached its climax about 6,000 years B.P.); Douglas- fir forest was at minimum, oak woodland at maximum extent during this “Altithermal” period.

6,000: Mt. Mazama erupts and collapses.

4,000 – 200: A short climatic interval around 4,000 B.P. brings more effective precipitation, causing a period of canyon down-cutting which is evidenced in the Columbia Plateau as well as the Rogue River Basin. Later, the climate became increasingly like that of the present time.

1,000 – 500: Local inhabitants became heavily influenced by the lower Klamath River and coastal cultures: emphasis on personal wealth and prestige, apparent changes in tool and house styles.

800: The youngest flow on the Medicine Lake volcano is Glass Mountain, formed 
during an eruption less than 1,000 years ago.

400 – 300 B.C.E.: The nineteenth century territorial boundaries and “ethnographic patterns” of the Takelma, Klamath, and other groups were probably fairly well-developed.

Klamath Indians: Around Upper Klamath Lake the Klamath Indians,
É-ukshikni máklaks, “people of the lake,” were divided into five groups. The Gu’mbotkni had winter settlements on Pelican bay and the marsh north of it. Closely related to the Gu’mbotkni were the Dukwakmi with settlements on the Williamson River delta. The Aukch(k?)ni lived in a territory including Klamath Marsh and the middle Williamson River. They had many settlements and were considered the most powerful group. The Sprague River people may have been included with the Aukch(k?)ni who were also closely related to the Kow’cdikni living in a village on Agency Lake. The Iu’lalonki group lived near Klamath Falls and the eastern shore of Upper Klamath Lake. In the summer these camps were dispersed over a wider area following and gathering food sources. (Leslie Spier, Klamath Ethnography, 1930)

Modoc Indians: The Klamath Indians usually outnumbered the Modoc Indians two to one. The Modocs called themselves Móntokni máklaks “living at Moatak” – this being the name of Modoc or Tule lake: “in the extreme south.” The Modoc population was somewhere between 400 and 800. The Modoc’s settlements included camps included the Lower Lost River, Lower Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, Clear Lake, and the territory that extended south as far as the mountains beyond Goose Lake.

Yahooskin Indians: The Yahooskin, 145 individuals in 1888, were a body of the Snake Indians. They hunted and gathered on Goose Lake, Silver Lake, Warner Lake, Lake Harney and temporarily stayed in Surprise Valley, on Chewaukan and Saíkan marshes and gathered wókash on Klamath Marsh.

upper klamath basin timelines icon

Klamath Basin Timeline: Before 1500 … Islands, Mountains, and People

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1500 – 1839 … England, Spain, Russia

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1840 – 1859 … Trappers, Gold and Trails

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1860 – 1869 … Applegates and Captain Jack

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1870 – 1879 … Strongholds and Swamplands

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1880 – 1889 … Klamath County and Newspapers

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1890 – 1899 … Merrill, Flour and Potatoes.

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1900 – 1909 … Steamboats and Locomotives

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1910 – 1919 … Automobiles and Movies

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1920 – 1929 … Recreation and Refuge

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1930 – 1939 … Depression, Sporting and Tulelake

Klamath Basin Timeline: 1940 – 1949 … Internment and Homesteading

Bill and LoEtta Cadman, Ina and Roy Reed, Pat McMillian, William Brady,
Andrew Ortis, John Pratt, Art Eggleston, Rob Crawford – Crawford Farms,
Bev Wampler, Gayle and Chuck Jaynes, Richard Kopczak and
Cindy Wright are some of the many folks that allowed access to their
libraries and, or, shared information, time and labor to help Anders
compile the above timelines.

© 2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.