Long before the arrival of white settlers, the area north of Walker Lake and along the Walker River was home to Paiute natives, and as early as 1859 the area was set aside for "Indian purposes". For a period of time, attempts were made to relocate the Paiute people to the Pyramid Lake Reservation, but on March 19, 1874 President Ulysses S. Grant signed an executive order formally recognizing the Walker River Reservation.

During this early period (as early as 1863), agency superintendent Warren Wasson made his home along the Walker River at what would be called Wasson's Camp, and other agency buildings were built. Later this would be known as Reservation House, or simply 'Agency'. In 1881, the Carson & Colorado Railroad reached the Walker River Reservation, and after negotiations between Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz and Henry Yerington, tracks were laid across the Reservation. At the agency, a new station was established called "Schurz" in honor of the Secretary. A post office opened a decade later, though Schurz didnt't develop as a town until after the turn of the century.

In late 1905, the Schurz Townsite Company was formed in anticipation of tribal lands being opened for prospecting and settlement. A year later, a townsite plat was filed, R.C. Dyer opened the first trading post in the new townsite, and the Schurz & Hawthorne Telephone Line Company was incorporated. Schurz was to become the shipping point for region mines, and the first copper shipment was made by the Crawford Copper Company in July 1907. A simultaneous rush to Rawhide brought much excitement to Schurz, which soon had hotels, cafes, bars, and stores. Though this development proved profitable to their white owners, the Paiute natives were not so benefitted despite earlier predictions.

On July 11, 1908, a fire wiped out much of the Schurz townsite, and as Rawhide began to decline so too did Schurz. By 1910, the census recorded 110 non-Native residents in town, a number which dropped to fourteen a decade later. By 1924, the Schurz Townsite Company failed to renew its corporate status, and by 1939 only three stores remained operational (including one still owned by R.C. Dyer). While the old townsite has since faded into history, Schurz today has a population around 650 and still maintains its status as the center of the Walker River Reservation. Antiquated tribal facilities have been replaced by modern ones, and a few businesses remain to serve travelers along Highway 95.

Carson & Colorado Railroad
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