Fort Churchill is a Civil War era United States Army Fort, Pony Express Station and overland stage stop located in Lyon County, Nevada just West of Buckland’s Station. The station is designated as a home station, where extra horses, firearms, men and provision are kept. The fort was commissioned to protect early settlers from the east from Indian attacks. The garrison was the largest, most elaborate fortification in the Nevada Territory at the time.
The discovery of gold in California caused a massive rush of people across the United States. Some of these early settlers came into the Nevada Territory and setup stage stops and mining operations. The arrival of settlers in their territory threatened the the Northern Paiute people. The increase populations of settlers increased the competition for local resources, such as game. These tensions, along with kidnapping and of rape of two young Paiute girls by prospectors from Williams Station erupted into Pyramid Lake War in 1860.
The U.S. Army fort was build along the Carson River and construction of Fort Churchill started on July 20, 1860. The base was named in honor of Sylvester Churchill who was the Inspector General of the Army. The fort is completed in early 1861 and home to some 200 soldiers charged with protecting settlers and mail routes. The post is abandoned in 1869.
On October 6, 1932, Nevada took control of the 200 acre fort and took steps to preserve the ruins as a state park.
Sources generally agree on the identity of Fort Churchill as a Pony Express stop. Built during the summer of 1860 by Captain Joseph Stewart and his men, the adobe fort housed the Pony Express station in its headquarters building. Construction on the fort began on July 20, 1860, approximately twenty-five miles from Comstock, Nevada, along the edge of the Carson River. When Richard Burton arrived at Fort Churchill on October 19, 1860, he gave it a positive review in his journal and named Captain F.F. Flint as the commander.
Since the Pony Express used Buckland’s as a home station, Fort Churchill probably assumed a similar function when the Pony Express transferred its station from Buckland’s to the fort. The Fort Churchill’s ruins existed as late as 1979, including the headquarters building, and it is a Nevada state park.
Fort Churchill Map
|Churchill County, Nevada
|Fort Churchill Station
|NPS Pony Express Station
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|National Historic Landmark