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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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Soldier and Brave
Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark FORT CHURCHILL

Location: Lyon County, on Nev. 2B, about 1 mile west of U.S. Alt. 95, some 7 miles south of the town of Silver Springs.

Fort Churchill (1860-69), as guardian in west-central Nevada of the Central Overland Mail and Pony Express routes, the transcontinental telegraph line, and east-west and north-south emigrant trails, was primarily significant in the history of western transportation and communication. But it also protected mining camps, ranches, and emigrants from the Indians and served as a supply depot for military operations in Nevada. Its founding, 25 miles east of Virginia City on the north bank of the Carson River adjacent to Buckland Station, a trading post that had been established in 1859, was the direct result of a Southern Paiute uprising in the spring of 1860. This had been generated by a silver rush to the region the previous year and culminated in the Battles of Pyramid Lake (May and June 1860). During the Civil War, California and Nevada Volunteers replaced the Regulars and considerably enlarged the post. The Paiutes caused no further trouble in the Carson River Valley, though at times the fort aided in quelling Indian disturbances in northeastern Nevada. In 1870, the year after the Army abandoned the fort, the Government sold the buildings at public auction.

officers' quarters
Ruins of officers' quarters, Fort Churchill Historic State Monument. (Nevada State Park System)

Over the years the adobe buildings were either destroyed or fell into ruins. By 1930 the walls stood only 2 or 3 feet above ground. In 1935, after the National Park Service had supervised a program of archeological excavation and historical research, a force of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) laborers reconstructed a number of buildings on their original foundations. The ruins of some 15 of these structures comprise Fort Churchill Historic State Monument, which also includes a small museum and the old post cemetery. In the 1880's the soldier dead, many from the Indian wars, had been moved to Carson City and San Francisco; the graves of Samuel Buckland and several other early settlers remain.

NHL Designation: 11/05/61

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Last Updated: 19-Aug-2005