The American “Old West” overlaps a lot with the modern age.

It kinda blows my mind that while outlaws and cowboys were roaming the American Old West, having shoot-outs and robbing trains, scientists and inventors were bringing about the electrical/atomic age.

To highlight this, I present the following timeline showing some key moments in the Old West as well as key inventions and discoveries in Science and Technology:

  • 1824 J. L Prevost and J. B. Dumas showed that the sperm in semen were not parasites, as previously thought, but, instead, the agents of fertilization.
  • 1826 Karl von Baer showed that the eggs of mammals are in the ovaries, ending a 200-year search for the mammalian egg.
  • 1836 Telegraph was invented.
  • 1838 Matthias Schleiden proposed that all plants are composed of cells.
  • 1839 Theodor Schwann proposed that all animal tissues are composed of cells. Schwann and Schleinden argued that cells are the elementary particles of life.
  • 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto.
  • 1848 Lord Kelvin determines absolute zero.
  • 1850 the cities of LA and SF Incorporated. California becomes a state.
  • 1851 Electrical Refrigeration invented.
  • 1852 The Wells Fargo company is founded
  • 1854 The first electrical ice maker.
  • 1856 Dallas is incorporated in Texas
  • 1858 Combustion Engine invented.
  • 1860 The Pony Express completes its first westbound and eastbound deliveries between SF and Missouri.
  • 1861 The first transcontinental telegraph line is completed. Thus rendering the Pony Express obsolete.
  • 1863 The first subway line completed in London.
  • 1864 Nevada became a state.
  • 1864 Louis Pasteur disproved the spontaneous generation of cellular life.
  • 1865 Gregor Mendel demonstrated in pea plants that inheritance follows definite rules. The Principle of Segregation states that each organism has two genes per trait, which segregate when the organism makes eggs or sperm. The Principle of Independent Assortment states that each gene in a pair is distributed independently during the formation of eggs or sperm.
  • 1865 Civil war ends. “Wild Bill” Hickok kills gambler Davis Tutt in a shootout in Springfield, Missouri.
  • 1866 Ex-Confederate bushwhackers Frank and Jesse James rob their first bank.
  • 1867 The Wagon Box Fight. (The Wagon Box Fight is prominent in the folklore and literature of the Old West as an example of a small group of well-equipped professionals holding off a much larger but poorly equipped force. The new, faster-shooting rifles are cited as the principal reason for their success.)
  • 1869 Dmitri Mendeleev publishes the first modern periodic table, with the 66 known elements organized by atomic weights. The strength of his table was its ability to accurately predict the properties of as-yet unknown elements.
  • 1869 Trans Continental rail completed. Also, the first documented competitive rodeo.
  • 1870 “Wild Bill” Hickok is involved in a shootout with several members of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment in Hays City after killing one trooper and wounding another.
  • 1870 “Hurricane Bill” Martin, a notorious outlaw in Kansas, begins rustling cattle southeast of Abilene before he and his gang are driven off by a posse.
  • 1871 Shortly after robbing a nearby bank, Jesse James addresses a crowd at a political rally in Corydon, Iowa.
  • 1872 William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, a scout for the U.S. Cavalry, is awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • 1873 The Colt Single Action Army revolver is first manufactured.
  • 1873 The James–Younger Gang commits the first train robbery in the history of the West.
  • 1874 John Younger is killed when he and his brother Jim assault two undercover Pinkerton detectives and a local sheriff in St. Clair County, Missouri.
  • 1876 “Wild Bill” Hickok is shot and killed by Jack McCall during a poker game in Deadwood.
  • 1876 Custer’s last stand.
  • 1876 Telephone invented.
  • 1877 “Billy the Kid”, shoots his first man, Frank “Windy” Cahill.
  • 1877 Four months after his surrender, Oglala war leader Crazy Horse is fatally stabbed with a bayonet by a U.S. Army soldier while allegedly resisting imprisonment.
  • 1877 Phonograph invented.
  • 1878 Nick Worthington, a well-known outlaw throughout New Mexico and Colorado, is killed by residents of Cimarron, New Mexico after killing several men and stealing horses.
  • 1879 Ike and Billy Clanton enlist William “Curly Bill” Brocius and Johnny Ringo as they begin cattle rustling in the New Mexico and Arizona Territories.
  • 1879 Incandescent Light Bulb invented.
  • 1881 Billy the Kid is shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
  • 1881 San Jose, California becomes the first city west of the Rocky Mountains with civic electric lighting.
  • 1881 The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes place in the street behind a saloon in Tombstone, Arizona, pitting the Earps and Doc Holliday against Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, and Billy Claiborne.
  • 1882 First coal-fired power station (London)
  • 1882 Jesse James is shot in the back of the head by Robert Ford, a new recruit to his gang, at his home in St. Joseph, Missouri.
  • 1882 Morgan Earp is shot and killed while playing billiards in Tombstone, Arizona. His assassination is linked to his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  • 1882 Outlaw William “Curly Bill” Brocius is shot and killed by Wyatt Earp at Iron Springs in southeastern Arizona.
  • 1886 Apache renegade Geronimo surrenders to forces under General Nelson Miles and is taken into custody at Fort Grant, Arizona. His surrender is often considered the end of the Apache Wars.
  • 1886 Dave Rudabaugh, a former member of Billy the Kid’s Dodge City Gang, is reportedly captured and decapitated by townspeople after terrorizing the village of Parral, Mexico.
  • 1886 The first combustion engine automobile (Benz)
  • 1887 Doc Holliday dies.
  • 1887 Luke Short kills former Fort Worth, Texas Marshal Jim Courtright in a gunfight on the streets of Fort Worth. The shooting is ruled self-defense, since Courtright drew his pistol first.
  • 1889 Oklahoma outlaw Belle Starr is killed.
  • 1889 Outlaw Butch Cassidy robs his first bank in Telluride, Colorado before fleeing to the remote hideout of Robbers Roost.
  • 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee
  • 1892 Four members of the Dalton Gang are killed in a shootout with townspeople while trying to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville, Kansas.
  • 1893 Following a ten-month manhunt, local train robbers John Sontag and Chris Evans are wounded during a shootout with a posse of lawmen on a ranch north of Visalia, California. Both outlaws are eventually captured, and Sontag dies of his wounds three weeks later.
  • 1895 John Wesley Hardin dies.
  • 1895 X rays discovered
  • 1896 Becquerel discovers radioactivity
  • 1896 Butch Cassidy, Elzy Lay, Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, and Bob Meeks rob a bank in Montpelier, Idaho.
  • 1897 Electrons discovered
  • 1898 The Curies discover polonium and radium
  • 1898 Martinus Beijerinck used filtering experiments to show that tobacco mosaic disease is caused by something smaller than a bacterium, which he names a virus.
  • 1899 Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch rob an Overland Flyer passenger train near Wilcox, Wyoming, resulting in a massive but ultimately futile manhunt.
  • 1901 Butch Cassidy, Harry Longabaugh, and Etta Place depart the United States for Buenos Aires, Argentina aboard a British steamer.
  • 1902 Radioactive decay explained
  • 1903 First powered human flight (Wright brothers)
  • 1903 “Calamity Jane” Canary dies.
  • 1905 Einstein drafts his Special theory of Relativity
  • 1905 The city of Las Vegas is founded in Nevada.
  • 1905 William Bateson coined the term “genetics” to describe the study of biological inheritance.
  • 1905 Virgil Earp (Wyatt’s brother) dies.
  • 1908 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are reportedly found dead following a shootout with police in the town of San Vicente, Bolivia.
  • 1908 Geiger counter invented
  • 1908 Model T goes into production
  • 1911 Rutherford articulates his model of the atom
  • 1913 Bohr publishes theory of atomic structure
  • 1913 The first commercial fridge
  • 1915 Einstein publishes his General Theory of Relativity
  • 1916 The last stagecoach robbery in American history occurs at Jarbidge Canyon, Nevada, when three robbers hold up a U.S. Post Office Department stagecoach, shoot the driver, and steal $4,000 in cash. The criminals are captured without incident soon after.
  • 1917 Scientists first split the atom.
  • 1917 “Buffalo Bill” Cody dies.
  • 1919 The first artificially induced nuclear reaction
  • 1926 Sharpshooter Annie Oakley dies.
  • 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin
  • 1929 Wyatt Earp dies.
  • 1932 Hans Adolf Krebs discovered the urea cycle.