Timeline of Historic Events - 1634 - 2012

Victory Arch
Historic Oshkosh Events: a Timeline

1634:
Jean Nicolet, sent by the French government in Canada, journeyed the Fox  River and Lake Winnebago to locate and make treaties with native tribes.  He was probably the first European to pass through this valley.

1670:
On April 20, Father Claude Allouez said the first Catholic Mass in this area.  A marker in Menominee Park commemorates this event.

1700:
The fur trade between native tribes and French Canada was booming.

1795:
Oshkosh born. In 1827 he was named a chief of the Menominee tribe. He was known as a peacemaker.  Chief Oshkosh died in 1858.

1836:
First settler from the eastern U.S. was Webster Stanley.

1838:
First wedding among the American settlers, Emmeline Wright and Joseph Jackson.

1839
Meeting to choose an official name for the settlement selected Oshkosh.

1840:
First post office established; Chester Ford is postmaster.

1841:
First school opened in a room off Stanley's cabin.  Miss Emmeline Cook was the first teacher.

1847:
First sawmill established.

1848:
Wisconsin became state.  Oshkosh named county seat of Winnebago County, replacing Butte des Morts.

1849:
First newspaper, the Oshkosh True Democrat, began February 9.

1850:
Plank road built to Fond du Lac, 18 miles away.

1851:
First church building built by the Methodists.  Other congregations met in homes or the courthouse.

1853:
Oshkosh was incorporated as a city, population 2500.  Edward Eastman was first mayor.  Oil-burning street lamps were an early civic improvement.

1859:
First railroad reached Oshkosh's south side station.

1861-1865:
Civil War took many Oshkosh men away for military service.

1865:
First baseball team was organized, and named the Everetts, after a school principal.

1866:
Oshkosh was the second largest city in Wisconsin, behind Milwaukee.

1867:
High School built.  Size: 70 by 85 Feet.

1869:
City donated property and $25,000.00 for the new state Normal School.

1870:
Oshkosh had earned the nickname "Sawdust City" with a string of Sawmills lining the river producing over one million board feet of lumber per year, equivalent to 15,000 rail carloads.

1871:
Oshkosh Normal school opened on Sept. 12 with six teachers.

1874-1875:
Fires each spring destroyed most of the north side downtown. Over 700 buildings were destroyed and rebuilt.

1879:
First telephones installed.

1883:
Grand Opera House opened.

1891:
St. Mary's Hospital opened, developed into Mercy Medical Center.

1897:
Electric streetcars replaced horse-drawn ones.

1898:
Woodworkers went on strike against seven mills.

1900:
Public Library moved from room in city hall to new building given by Harris family and Philetus Sawyer.

1901:
High School burned. Interurban transit to Omro was started.

1911:
Chief Oshkosh statue dedicated.

1916:
Normal School burned and was rebuilt.

1919:
Victory Arch erected on Main Street dedicated to the soldiers and sailors of the Great World War.  Designed by Auler & Jensen, decorated by Brasz Brothers.

1922:
Ralph Buckstaff built an astronomical observatory.

1924:
Edgar Sawyer's home became Oshkosh Public Museum.

1926:
North Park renamed Menominee Park.

1927:
Privately owned commercial airport opened, with mail and passenger service.

1928:
Bus franchise granted.

1930:
Last streetcars ran.

1930-39:
Depression hit lumber industry hard.

1941-1945:
World War II took servicemen away, created jobs making military supplies.

1947:
Paine Art Center and Arboretum opened.

1950:
Natural gas became available.  Population: 40,872.

1953:
City celebrated its centennial.

1957:
Council-City Manager system replaced Mayor-Alderman system of government.

1958:
Airport terminal built.

1959:
Lourdes Academy opened.

1961:
New Oshkosh High School opened.

1962:
Rural schools consolidated into Oshkosh Area School District.

1963:
Miss Wisconsin pageant moved to Oshkosh.

1964:
Pioneer Inn under construction.

1966:
Largest land annexation ever.

1967:
Jet service came to Oshkosh airport.

1969:
Winnebago County airport renamed Wittman Field for local aviation pioneer Sylvester “Steve” Wittman.

1970:
Park Plaza shopping development opened on 18 acres in downtown.  EAA holds its first Oshkosh fly-in.

1971:
Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh celebrated centennial.

1972
Second Oshkosh high school, North High, opened.

1973:
Main Street Bridge reopened after 17 months of construction.

1974:
Tornado hit west side of city.

1975:
Senior Citizens’ Center opened.

1976:
Phil Donahue broadcast his June 25th national TV show from Civic Center.

1983:
Steiger wing added to Oshkosh Public Museum.

1984:
EAA Aviation Center and Museum opened.

1985:
President Reagan visited.

1986:
Grand Opera House reopened after restoration. Convention Center and hotel build in downtown. Oshkosh Correctional Institution opens.

1990:
Manufacturers Marketplace outlet mall opened on Washburn Road.

1994:
Oshkosh Public Library reopens in renovated and expanded building. Oshkosh Public Museum damaged by fire.

1996:
Railroad tracks removed from center of town. First CountryUSA music festival.

2000:
Sundial built in downtown Oshkosh.  Mercy Medical Center opened a new $50 million hospital on the west side of Oshkosh.

2002:
Oshkosh YMCA opened second facility on west side.  Gallery Walks begin as a monthly art event.

2003:
Oshkosh celebrated its sesquicentennial.  Aurora Medical Center opened.

2005:
Leach Amphitheater opened on the riverfront.

2006:
Pollock Community Waterpark opened.

2008:
New Wisconsin-Ohio Street bridge constructed.   Portions of feature film Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, filmed in Oshkosh.

2009:
Oshkosh Convention Center reopened after major renovations.

2010:
Construction of the city's first roundabout at Jackson and Murdock, rebuilding of North Main Street as part of Riverwalk, Grand Opera House reopens after ceiling and roof repair.

2011:
Farmers Market moves to North Main Street, and doubles in size.  First RockUSA music festival.

2012: