Fort Churchill Nevada

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 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.

A lithograph drawing of Fort Chuchill, Nevada Territory created by Grafton Tyler Brown in 1862
A lithograph drawing of Fort Chuchill, Nevada Territory created by Grafton Tyler Brown in 1862

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.

Fort Churchill Map

References

Buckland’s Station

Buckland Station is a pony express station, stage stop, boarding house and supplier near Fort Churchill in Lyon County, Nevada.

Buckland Station early 1900s
Buckland Station early 1900s

In 1857, Samual Buckland moved from California to the future site of Buckland’s Station. Buckland, a cattle rancher, improved the property by building a tradingpost, tent hotel, stage stop and toll bridge over the Carson River. A small log cabin was constructed in 1860.

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The Pony Express Trails and Stations In Nevada

The Pony Express operated for a very brief period of time from April 3, 1860, to October 26, 1861. The mail service allowed quick delivery of mail, messages and newspapers between California and Missouri. The pony express was built and operated around one hundred and eighty six stations, which enabled a rider to change horses frequently and quickly traverse the county.

Pony Express Riders "Billy" Richardson, Johnny Fry, Charles Cliff, Gus Cliff - Ernest and Elaine Hartnagle (original tintype from the Martin E. Ismert Collection - Kansas City, Missouri) - http://www.historybuff.com/library/refrichardson.html
Pony Express Riders “Billy” Richardson, Johnny Fry, Charles Cliff, Gus Cliff – Ernest and Elaine Hartnagle (original tintype from the Martin E. Ismert Collection – Kansas City, Missouri) – http://www.historybuff.com/library/refrichardson.html

The Pony Express only operated for a brief 18 months. Yet, the lore of its riders racing the mail across the country maintains a special place in history. The service was not a financial success and heavily subsidized. Despite this influx of capital, the service was doomed on October 24, 1861 with the success of the transcontinental telegraph.

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Johntown Nevada

Located in Gold Canyon between Silver City and Dayton, Johntown Nevada is the first ghost town in Lyon county. None of the buildings are currently standing to mark the site of the original workings. The camp was started as a placer mining operation just off of the road in Gold Canyon in the early 1850s. The initial camp started when James Fenemore setup his tent in the side of the hill and started washing gravel for gold.

Placer mining, 1880s, in Gold Canyon. The original site of Johntown mining settlement , south of Silver, City Nevada - Stanley W. Paher, Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, Howell North, 1970, p 70. courtesy of Nevada Historical Society
Placer mining, 1880s, in Gold Canyon. The original site of Johntown mining settlement , south of Silver, City Nevada – Stanley W. Paher, Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, Howell North, 1970, p 70. courtesy of Nevada Historical Society
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Pine Grove Nevada

One of the lesser known yet longest running gold mining camps is Pine Grove, Nevada.  Located in Lyon County, Nevada just East of the 338 highway .Pine Grove was founded in 1866 when gold was discovered by William Wilson and he founded the Wheeler Mine the following year.   Within a year the town grew to about 300 people and the site was named Pine Grove Hills.

Pine Grove, Nevada - 1880s
Pine Grove, Nevada – 1880s

A post office was opened in 1868 in the small town along with a newspaper. A two stamp stamp mill was built to process the gold and silver ore.

The town of Pine Grove grew to 1000 people by the time the 1880s came around and the three mills processed $10,000 in gold bullion in a week. At its height, the town was spread out over a mile. The citizens enjoyed saloons, three hotels, stores, assorted businesses to support the mining effort.  A dance hall was also built to keep everyone entertained.

The mining effort stalled in 1883 due to a depression in the United States. Work recovered, and the mines were again active from 1900 to 1910 with marginal results. Although there was some prospecting, mining ceased production for a final time in 1918.

The town continued to support a small population, however it finally expired in the 1930’s after over 50 years to activity.

Steam boiler, Pine Grove, Nevada, 1880s. The steam from the boiler supplied a small engine which powered a ventilation fan.
Steam boiler, Pine Grove, Nevada, 1880s. The steam from the boiler supplied a small engine which powered a ventilation fan.

Pine Grove Town Summary

NamePine Grove
LocationLyon County, Nevada
Post OfficeSept 1868-Oct 1869
Nov 1869-Nov 1912
NewspaperThe Pine Grove Chronicle ( 1872-1872 )

Pine Grove Trail Map

Resources