“Visit a once Active Military Site!”
Fort Churchill was once an active U.S. Army fort. Built in 1861 to provide protection for early settlers, it was abandoned nine years later. Today the ruins are preserved in a state of arrested decay. A visitor center displays information and artifacts of the fort’s history. The Pony Express and the Overland Telegraph once passed through this area. Nearby is Buckland Station, a Pony Express stop, supply center, and former hotel built in 1870. Facilities at Fort Churchill State Historic Park include trails, a campground, picnic area, group-use area and access to the Carson River. Visitors can enjoy hiking, historic and environmental education, camping, picnicking, photography and canoeing. The park is located eight miles south of Silver Springs on Alternate U.S. 95, and one mile on Fort Churchill Road. The year was 1860, and the fear of Indian attacks was at its peak. Talk of Indian atrocities at Williams Station, a Carson River outpost 30 miles east of Carson City, filtered back to Carson Valley settlers, who demanded immediate protection. Actually, the so-called Pyramid Lake War began on May 12, 1860 when three white men living at Williams Station kidnapped and held prisoner two Indian girls. Their action and refusal to release the girls led to reprisals by the Indians who killed the three men, released the girls and burned the station. Rumors magnified both the number of whites killed and the number of Paiutes thought ready to move against white settlements. Hasty and ill-conceived plans resulted in the movement of 105 volunteers to Pyramid Lake to avenge the deaths of the white men. In the battle that ensued, the out-numbered whites suffered a major defeat. They lost two-thirds of their original force. The Indians’ decisive victory led to immediate white retaliation. Urgent calls went out to California for regular army troops. The troops, bolstered by additional volunteers, moved against the Indian forces in early June. In this second battle, the out-numbered Indians were forced to retreat. Casualty reports ranged from four to 160 Indians killed while only two whites died.
buildings are well preserved at this site, camping available, nice and peaceful surroundings
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Fort Churchill State Historic Park
- Mon - Fri: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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