America West - History

America West - History

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American West was incorporated in 1981. It began service in 1983 after raising capital as a start-up with an initial public offering. Service began from a hub in Phoenix with 3 737's. By the end of 1990 America West had over 14,000 employees and operated 104 aircraft including 11 157's and 4 747's. In June of 1991 America West declared chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 1994 with the assistance of a $214 million outside investment America West emerged from bankruptcy. It has thrived since emerging from bankruptcy. In 2005 America West entered into a reverse merger with US Airways and soon renamed its planes and flights as America West

Timeline of the American Old West

This timeline of the American Old West is a chronologically ordered list of events significant to the development of the American West as a region of the United States. The term "American Old West" refers to a vast geographical area and lengthy time period of imprecise boundaries, and historians' definitions vary. The events in this timeline occurred primarily in the portion of the modern United States west of the Mississippi River, and mostly in the period between the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the admission of the last western territories as states in 1959. [1] A brief section summarizing early exploration and settlement prior to 1803 is included to provide a foundation for later developments. Rarely, events significant to the history of the West but which occurred within the modern boundaries of Canada and Mexico are included as well.

Western North America was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Native Americans and later served as a frontier to the Spanish Empire, which began colonizing the region starting in the 16th century. British, French, and Russian claims followed in the 18th and 19th centuries, though these did not result in settlement and the region remained in Spanish hands. After the American Revolution, the newly independent United States began securing its own frontier from the Appalachian Mountains westward for settlement and economic investment by American pioneers. The long history of American expansion into these lands has played a central role in shaping American culture, iconography, and the modern national identity, and remains a popular topic for study by scholars and historians.

Events listed below are notable developments for the region as a whole, not just for a particular state or smaller subdivision of the region as historians Hine and Faragher put it, they "tell the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the lands, the development of markets, and the formation of states. It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures." [2]

American West Timeline

This America West Timeline lists the critical years of the Western American territory’s discovery, colonization, and settlement.



The Santee Sioux had moved onto a reservation that had poor land and their crops failed. Compensation payments that had been promised by the government had not been delivered and the tribe faced starvation.

In August 1862 the Santee Sioux warriors attacked the government Agency. They continued to attack white settlers and the army for three months before being defeated by the army.

Cattle ranching had been firmly established in Johnson County since the 1870s and many ranch owners had become wealthy and influential. During the 1880s they wanted more land and tried to buy-out small time ranchers and farmers. Those small-time ranchers and farmers who resisted were accused of cattle-rustling and some were hanged.

In 1892 the cattle barons had hired a vigilante group to get rid of the ‘rustlers’. The small time ranchers and farmers formed their own army to counter the vigilante group. The army of small time ranchers and farmers managed to force the vigilante group back to their base and hold them under siege. The situation had to be resolved by the intervention of the US cavalry to free the vigilantes.

This article is part of our larger resource on the American West culture, society, economics, and warfare. Click here for our comprehensive article on the American West.

Welcome to the Old West History

Experience the wild and wooly past of the Old Wild West, its history, folklore, cultural expression including legends of the cowboys and pioneer women of the frontier as well as the various historical events that took place in the American West.

Look for information on captivating movies that brought to life some of the forgotten traditions of the Old West along with its jaggedness and outlaws. Americans are especially thrilled by the Old West for its gunfights, cowboys, gambling, and stagecoach robberies. Regardless of your perception of the American West, you will find great articles plus links to other great facts about the Wild West.

The American West May Be Entering a ‘Megadrought’ Worse Than Any in Historical Record

Drought has scorched western North America for the better part of two decades, withering crops, draining rivers and fueling fires. Scientists now warn that this trend could be just the beginning of an extended megadrought that ranks among the very worst of the past 1,200 years and would be unlike anything known in recorded history.

As with past megadroughts, the current event is driven largely by natural variations in climate. But unlike prehistoric megadroughts, it’s happening during an era of climate change that the authors say is responsible for nearly half of its destructive impact.

“No matter which way you slice it, the clear indication is that the current drought ranks right up there with the worst in more than a thousand years, and there’s a human influence on this of at least 30 percent and possibly as much as 50 percent in terms of its severity,” says Jason Smerdon, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory who co-authored the new research published today in Science. “It would have been a bad drought without anthropogenic warming, but not a contender to rival these really heavyweight droughts that occurred during the Medieval Era.”

Megadroughts, by definition, are occasional events of unusual severity lasting for at least 20 years. During the past 1,200 years, four major megadroughts occurred in the American West: during the 800s, the mid-1100s, the 1200s, and the late 1500s.

Some evidence suggests these events upended life in the West. For example, no one is certain what circumstances led the Anasazi people to abandon their cliff dwellings at Chaco Canyon during the 12th century and Mesa Verde during the late 13th century, but researchers have long theorized that megadroughts corresponding to those periods drove their inhabitants to seek reliable sources of water. The worst known drought of the entire 1,200-year period, in the 16th century, may have helped to amplify the devastating epidemics of cocoliztli in Mexico, which killed perhaps half of the indigenous population. Theories suggest drought weakened a malnourished population, or that conditions became ideal for the disease to spread widely among rodent hosts.

"There's always been the prospect that by chance we could have one of these droughts in the West, but we haven't had one since the late 1500s," Smerdon says.

Lake Powell as seen from space (NASA)

The evidence was already alarming. A 2016 study by some of the same researchers tried to model the probabilities that a megadrought of 35 years or longer would occur by 2100 if global climate change continued unabated, and put that probability at 90 percent.

Now the new research reveals that the period of drought between 2000 and 2018 was the second driest of all 19-year periods in the past 1,200 years. “Suddenly, looking at the data since 2000, they’re definitely suggesting that we are currently on a megadrought trajectory,” Smerdon says. And while 20 years is a long time to live with drought, the megadroughts recorded in the paleorecord lasted far longer, like 50 or even 90 years.

An extended megadrought isn’t inevitable. Complex climate variations that brought some wetter years during the past two decades, and that ended past megadrought events, could reemerge. For example, La Niña conditions, when the Pacific Ocean cools, tend to correlate with big droughts in the American West by pushing storms north of the region. Warm-water El Niño conditions can bring precipitation and drought relief. But the warmer temperatures brought on by climate change make it all the more difficult for a drought to dissipate naturally.

“The fact that the climate system was capable of producing those droughts in the past provides pretty strong evidence that similar droughts could occur in the future,” says Connie Woodhouse, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona not involved in the research. “However, with the increasing temperatures, the impacts of future droughts will be greater than those that occurred under cooler temperatures.” In fact, she notes, the new study shows that this drought wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if not for anthropogenic climate change.

Since the early 20th century, scientists have known that ancient trees hold clues to past climate. Good years are reflected in wide growth rings, while narrow rings mark lean and dry years. Clusters of narrow rings show prolonged periods of drought.

The study’s lead author, Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, says that when scientists first analyzed rings, they were shocked at the tale the trees told. “These megadroughts looked nothing like what modern society in the 1920s had ever dealt with. At that point these Medieval megadroughts started being talked about almost mythically,” he says.

Through the 1990s, Williams says, scientists and water managers tended to talk of these droughts only as remarkable events from prehistory because nothing like then had ever been seen in modern times. “The conclusion now, that we may be actually converging on one of these events, is really something else.”

Williams’s group reached its conclusion by poring over thousands of tree and wood samples from across the region, from Oregon and Montana to Mexico. They reconstructed a record of drought conditions from the year 800 A.D. to the present and compared the current drought to the worst 19-year periods within that long historic record. The current drought hasn’t persisted as long as the notable megadroughts, one of which stretched over almost the entire 13th century. However, Smerdon says, “this particular drought could go toe to toe with the worst megadroughts of the past over any 19-year interval that we were able to characterize.”

The team employed 31 climate models to estimate how evidence from the past, combined with the facts of the current drought, might translate into future projections. They conclude that the biggest factor in amplifying the current drought into a megadrought of historic (or prehistoric) significance is a warming Earth. Using 120 years of weather data and 31 different climate models the study suggests that the region’s average temperature has risen over the past two decades by 2.2 F (1.2C) compared to what would have been likely without anthropomorphic warming. Warmer temperatures mean more evaporation, which reduces soil moisture levels and exacerbates drought.

Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan not involved in the study, lauds the group’s work on this front. “They document the impact that anthropogenic climate change has played in amplifying what might have been a modest drought into what instead has become the first true multi-decadal megadrought to hit the United States.”

Overpeck adds that while the study period has ended, the drought continues. The nation’s two biggest reservoirs, Lake Powell (Utah and Arizona) and Lake Mead (Nevada and Arizona), remain less than half-full. He says the study highlights that soil moisture, like river flows, is dramatically declining in the Southwest. “This new work makes clear that if climate change is left unchecked, a large region of the country will continue to be slammed by ever-worsening droughts into the future,” Overpeck says.

Williams says we still can’t be certain exactly where today’s drought ranks among the millennium’s very worst. But to debate that matter would be to miss the point.

“There’s no getting away from the basic conclusion that this drought that we’re in now is definitely contending, in severity, to be one of the worst megadroughts of the last millennium—and climate change did contribute in some important way to making it worse.”

American West Heritage Center

Come and enjoy this family friendly event with the world-renowned band, Nashville Tribute Band, free parking, food vendors to choose from, and the beautiful backdrop of the Wellsville mountains!

Cache Valley Mountain Man Rendezvous

May 28th, 29th, & 31st, from 10am to 5pm. Go back in time to the Cache Valley Mountain Man Rendezvous! Come and learn about the life of the Mountain Men. Check out Traders Row, throw a tomahawk, and become a Mountain Man with a skill demonstration.

Baby Animal Days featuring Yellowstone Bear World

Baby Animal Days at the American West Heritage Center is back and better than ever! We are excited to offer MORE animals and MORE days to #experienceit! Main festival days on April 7-10 will feature bear cubs from Yellowstone Bear World. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets!

Baby Animal Days Featuring Utah's Petting Zoo Gone Wild

Baby Animal Days at the American West Heritage Center is back and better than ever! We are excited to offer MORE animals and MORE days to #experienceit! Main festival days on April 1-3 will feature exotic animals from Utah's Petting Zoo Gone Wild. Visit for more information and to purcha.

Holiday Sleigh Rides on the Farm

December 18-19th, 26th, and December 28th-January 1st, from 10am-4pm. Come and enjoy a "Sleigh Ride on the Farm." $7 per guest- Includes complimentary trip to hot cocoa bar and access to sledding hill.

Drive-In Movie & Corn Maze

Celebrate National Disabilities Awareness Month and support local non-profits by attending the Drive-In Movie and Corn Maze at the American West Heritage Center. Cache Employment and Training Center, Jump the Moon Art Studio, and the American West Heritage Center are joining forces to bring you ".

Barnyard Boo

12-4pm - Trick-or-treat on the farm and enjoy the Corn Maze! Barnyard Boo costs $1 with paid admission.

Fall Harvest Festival

10am - 5pm - Bring in the harvest the old-fashioned way! Experience cider pressing, corn shelling, candle making and more! Admission includes entrance to corn maze, train rides, pony rides, games and living history demonstrations!

Haunted Hollow

"Something wicked this way comes!" Come and find out why our Hollow is truly a HaUnTiNg experience! Every Friday and Saturday in October starting October 3 and ending October 30. 7:30-10:30pm

Legends of America

Mormons pulling handcarts, by Hannah Cowan, Bureau of Land Management

Joseph Smith, Mormon Church Founder

The Mormon Church was founded in New York after Joseph Smith, Jr. claimed to have found a buried book of golden plates written by ancient American prophets in the late 1820s. Smith said the Angel Moroni, who was the guardian of these plates, had directed him to these writings and that his mission was to publish a translation of this book. This work, published in 1830, as the Book of Mormon, served as a foundation for Smith’s organization, first called the Church of Christ, established April 6, 1830. It was later renamed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Kirkland, Ohio Mormon Temple, courtesy Wikipedia

For most of the 1830s, Smith lived with the majority of his church members in Kirtland, Ohio. Growing in numbers, Smith sent followers to Jackson County, Missouri, in an attempt to establish a City of Zion as the biblical New Jerusalem. Situated near Independence, the Mormon settlers were driven out of the county in 1833, then settling in Clay and Caldwell Counties of Missouri. Smith’s paramilitary campaign to redeem the area was unsuccessful.

Smith then taught his followers that the church needed endowment of heavenly power before redeeming Zion, and he soon began construction of an expensive temple in Kirtland where the endowment was to occur. However, on January 12, 1838, after a financial scandal effectively caused the collapse of the Ohio church, Smith fled an arrest warrant and joined his followers in Missouri.

When many of the Kirtland church members followed him to Missouri, tensions escalated with the old Missouri settlers, which led to what has become known as the Missouri Mormon War. Missouri’s “old settlers,” characterized the Mormons as fanatics whose clannish behavior made a mockery of republican institutions by placing power in the hands of a single man.

Violence broke out again at an election riot in Gallatin on August 6, 1838, and before long, “old settler” mobs and Mormon paramilitary units roamed the countryside. When the Mormons attacked an authorized militia group, under the belief it was an anti-Mormon mob, Missouri’s governor, Lilburn Boggs, ordered them expelled from the state, or “exterminated,” if necessary. Between August and November 1838, more than 20 Mormons were killed.

Mormon Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Over the next year, an estimated 10,000 Mormons were forced to leave the state, most settling in or near what would become the city of Nauvoo, Illinois. In 1839, Smith directed the construction of a second temple in Nauvoo, as well as becoming the mayor of the new town, and commander of the Nauvoo Legion, a large and nearly autonomous branch of the Illinois militia. Publicly, while Smith was teaching religious doctrines, he was also secretly introducing the practice of polygamy among his members, as well as a symbolic Millennial legislature that made him the king.

In 1844, Smith ran for President of the United States but, by this time, there were several church members that had begun to question him. The first and only edition of the Nauvoo Expositor ran an article that claimed Smith was practicing polygamy and that he intended to set himself up as a theocratic king. The assertions, made by a group of Latter Day Saint members, also charged that Smith was a fallen prophet and that he had acquired too much power. Smith, who was then serving as Nauvoo Mayor, responded by destroying the newspaper’s facilities and declaring martial law to corral the local outrage. Smith was then arrested and jailed in Carthage, Iowa on charges of treason. While he was awaiting trial, an armed mob of men with painted faces stormed the jail and shot him and his brother Hyrum to death. Today, Latter Day Saints view Joseph and Hyrum as martyrs. In a series of church-sanctioned essays released in October of 2014, the Mormon Church acknowledged for the first time that Smith had between 30 and 40 wives during his time as leader.

Broken up over the deaths, the council chose Brigham Young as their leader and decided to move westward. They toiled across Iowa and Missouri during the years of 1845-46, settling down again at points on the Missouri River. Trouble with the Indians caused them to build a town across the river near the present city of Council Bluffs, calling it “Kanesville.” Nearly 15,000 of them located at a point north of Omaha, near present-day Florence, Nebraska, calling it “The Winter Quarters.”

In the spring of 1846, Brigham Young sent out 80 wagons equipped to travel into the Rocky Mountains, where it was rumored that an inland sea, with fertile lands bordering it, awaited their coming, and where they could build up an empire outside of the jurisdiction of the United States.

The next year, Young led a large band of Mormons up the Platte Valley, across the plains and mountains to the Great Salt Lake in present-day Utah . Other groups soon followed, and the Mormon towns of Florence and Kanesville, which, at their height, had contained long streets that were lined with stores and residences, were practically deserted by 1851-52.

The cholera scourge of 1850 followed the Mormons far out on the trail, with many hundreds of them succumbing to its ravages in the first 400 miles of the journey.

While the Platte River was the main Mormon Trail to Fort Kearny, Nebraska , second in importance was their use of the original trail from Independence to Fort Kearny, especially by the thousands of Mormons who emigrated from England, and by boats via New Orleans and St. Louis to Independence, or by rail via New York. Migration of the Mormons to the west continued in organized companies along the Mormon Trail until 1869. Afterward, they came by railroad, continuing the resettlement until 1890.

Upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, the Mormons publicly announced the practice of plural marriage, which Smith had instituted in secret some years earlier. Plural marriage would become the faith’s most famous characteristic during the 19th century. However, the practice was vigorously opposed elsewhere in the United States, threatening the church’s existence as a legal institution.

They also began to build, laying out farms, creating irrigation systems, and constructing homes, churches, and schools. The first community established in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 was called Bountiful. The next year, lands were purchased in present-day Ogdon and in 1859, Tooele, Provo, and Manti were founded. Fillmore, Utah , intended to be the capitol of the new territory, was established in 1851. Almost immediately, Brigham Young sent out scouting parties to identify and claim additional settlement sites, minerals and other resources. Before long, new settlements were made as far south as Mexico, west into California , north into Idaho and Canada, and east into Wyoming . Missionary efforts led to outposts at Ft. Lemhi, Idaho , Las Vegas, Nevada and Elk Mountain in east-central Utah .

As the colonizer and founder of Salt Lake City, Brigham Young was appointed the territory’s first governor and superintendent of Indian affairs by President Millard Fillmore. Young quickly organized a militia, created Indian missions, directed the building of roads, and established businesses and services to allow the territory to be self-sustaining. However, by the mid-1850s federal officials received reports that Young was electing only Mormons to become government officials and non-Mormon settlers were frequently complaining of harassment and abuse at the hands of the Latter Day Saints.

Salt Lake City, Utah by James Ackerman, 1851

Others contended the Mormons were essentially in a state of rebellion against the United States. President Buchanan’s concern that Brigham Young was intent on making Deseret, as Utah was then known, an independent state prompted him to install a non-Mormon governor. This ignited what became known as the Utah War, a confrontation that lasted from May 1857 until July 1858.

Expecting the Mormons to resist, Buchanan ordered an expeditionary force of 2,500 soldiers to the territory. Under the command of General William S. Harney, the troops marched from Fort Leavenworth , Kansas , on July 18, 1857, hoping to occupy Utah by fall. Viewing the army as a hostile invasion force, Brigham Young mobilized the Utah Militia and began preparations for a guerrilla war. Although the campaign was bloodless, Mormon militiamen were successful in impeding the progress of U.S. forces, which were forced into winter encampment near Fort Bridger, Wyoming in the fall of 1857.

Mountain Meadows Massacre, T.B.H. Stenhouse, 1873

However, it was at the height of the conflict, that the members of the FancherBaker wagon train were slaughtered on September 11, 1857, in what became known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The extent of Young’s involvement in the massacre has been a subject of much controversy virtually since the day of the tragic event. Though John D. Lee, the only Mormon punished for the tragedy, would claim that he was acting under direct orders from Young, the church leader was later pardoned for any alleged role in the atrocity.

Unwilling to give up the territory, Young made plans to burn Salt Lake City and move his followers to Mexico, but at the last minute, he relented and agreed to step down as governor on April 12, 1858. Young and his followers were pardoned for acts of rebellion, and U.S. forces established Camp Floyd 40 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

In the end, the Utah War started a slow decline for Mormon isolation and power in Utah . They soon lost control of the executive branch and the federal district courts but maintained political authority in the Territorial Legislature. In 1869 the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, and soon large numbers of “Gentiles” arrived in Utah to stay.

Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Utah

Despite this, complete federal dominance was slow in coming. Brigham Young maintained a “shadow government” for years and conflict between the Mormons and the federal government, particularly over the issue of polygamy, would continue for nearly 40 years. In 1890, church leader and Prophet, Wilford Woodruff, announced that he had received a revelation, which officially discontinued the practice of plural marriage. Utah was finally made a state in 1896.

Afterward, several smaller groups broke with the main Church of Latter Day Saints, over the issue of plural marriage, forming several denominations of Mormon fundamentalism. The main church distanced itself from these groups and began to promote the mainstream American view of monogamous families.

In November 1978, Congress established the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail as part of the National Trails System, which commemorates the 1846-47 journey of the Mormon people from Nauvoo, Illinois to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.

Photo Gallery

– Courtesy Phil Spangenberger –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Library of Congress –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy John McWilliams Collection –

– Courtesy Kansas State Historical Society –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Fort Smith National Historic Site –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin collection –

– Courtesy Robert G. McCubbin Collection –

– Courtesy Jeff Morey –

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America West - History

Concerts on the Farm

The Nashville Tribute Band is coming to the farm on July 10th! Come and enjoy this family friendly event with free parking, food vendors to choose from and the beautiful backdrop of the Wellsville mountains!

Summer Camps

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to sign your camper up to connect to history and nature and experience everything from farm chores to archery to riding horses!

Historic Adventures

Tour the historic buildings, ride the train and ponies, milk a cow, pan for gold and much more!

To make a donation in memory of Brenda Pound, please click below:

The American West Heritage Center sits at the foot of the majestic Wellsville Mountains on U. S. Highway 89/91 in Utah’s magnificent Cache Valley, the most scenic route to Jackson Hole, WY and Yellowstone National Park, and just 70 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Our mission is to create an educational & entertaining environment that inspires our patrons to learn, live, and celebrate the American West Heritage by exploring the diverse cultures that shaped the Cache Valley and surrounding region from 1820 to 1920.

Myth: Prostitutes had it rough

We've all seen Deadwood. We all know Trixie. We know that 19th-century prostitutes had a rough life, subject to abuse, poor personal hygiene and the whims of their employer. At least, this was the common perception, until Thaddeus Russell published A Renegade History of the United States in 2010.

Back in the day, women had no real rights. Women were barely allowed to work, and those jobs they were permitted to do paid obscenely low salaries. Wives has no legal right to property and were themselves the lawful property of their husbands. Respectable women in the Wild West could not, to paraphrase Russell, own property, make high wages, have sex outside of marriage, perform or receive oral sex, use birth control, consort with men of other races, dance, drink, walk alone in public, or wear makeup, perfume, or stylish clothes—all things women are obviously allowed to do in today's American society. The only women who could do all these things, surprisingly, were prostitutes.

As described in Russell's book, madams owned some of the sweetest real estate in the Wild West, during a period in history when women owning land was virtually unheard of. Prostitutes also had the highest income of all American women, and with money comes power, so wealthy madams held great influence in the development of the west. In a time when health insurance wasn't commonplace, some madams even offered free health care to their employees, in addition to private and police protection from rowdy or dangerous clients. In terms of personal freedom, prostitutes were free from the "slavery of marriage," and were—in many ways—some of the first, true American feminists.

Watch the video: The American West. Full Documentary 12