Fort Churchill

Following increasing hostility from Paiute natives in the area, culminating with the May 6, 1860 massacre at Williams Station on the Carson River and raid at Cold Springs Station a few days later, a group of 105 volunteer soldiers were led by Major William Ormsby to Pyramid Lake; this was the beginning of the Pyramid Lake War. The first battle took place on May 12, and the volunteer militia was greatly outnumbered by Paiute forces and their allies, led by Chief Numaga. Seventy-six of the volunteers were killed, including Maj. Ormsby, and another twenty-six were injured. On June 2, a second, larger group of volunteers was led to the lake by Colonel John C. Hays and Captain Joseph Stewart. They were victorious, and brought the war to a close.

Shortly thereafter, Captain Stewart established Fort Churchill on the Carson River, named for Inspector General of the U.S. Army Sylvester Churchill. Construction began in July and was completed the following year. By the end of 1861, some 600 men were stationed at the post. During the Civil War, Fort Churchill served as a Union recruiting station and major supply point. After the war, the fort's importance diminished, and only one company remained after 1867. The fort was officially abandoned in 1869, and its buildings were subsequently auctioned off to Samuel Buckland (of nearby Buckland's Station) for $750.

On October 6, 1932, two hundred acres of the military reservation were granted to the State of Nevada, who in turn deeded the fort to the Nevada Sagebrush Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution two years later. Under the guidance of the National Park Service, the adobe ruins were stabilized and a visitor's center and facilities constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1957, Fort Churchill finally became a Nevada State Historic Park. Ruins of nearly two dozen adobe buildings remain in a state of arrested decay, surrounding a 13-acre parade ground.

Pony Express, 1860-61
← Miller's/Reed's • Fort ChurchillBuckland's