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Fort Churchill (1860-1871) - A U.S. Army post established in 1861 just before the start of the U.S. Civil War by Captain Joseph Stewart, 3rd U.S. Artillery, in Lyon County, Nevada. Named for Colonel Sylvester Churchill, Inspector General of the US Army. Abandoned in 1871. Also known as Churchill Barracks.
Fort Churchill History
Captain Joseph Stewart and his Carson River Expedition were ordered to establish a post on the Carson River. Construction started 20 Jul 1860. It was built as a permanent open plan installation with adobe buildings erected on stone foundations in the form of a square, facing a central parade. Average strength of the post was 200.
Before the start of the U.S. Civil War, Fort Churchill guarded the Pony Express run and other mail routes and hundreds of soldiers were based here between expeditions against the Indians. The War made the fort an important supply depot for the Nevada Military District, and a base for troops patrolling the overland routes.
The fort was ordered abandoned on 29 Sep 1869 but the last troops did not leave until 15 Jun 1871. The adobe buildings were auctioned for only $750. In 1884, the remains of solders buried in the post cemetery were moved to Carson City.
The State of Nevada took custody of 200 acres of the original military reservation on October 6, 1932. Nevada in turn deeded the land and buildings on April 30, 1934 to the Nevada Sagebrush DAR Chapter to hold in trust. On February 16, 1961, the title of Fort Churchill was reconveyed to the State of Nevada. The National Park Service made restoration plans, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) renovated what was left of the fort. It was the CCC who build the Visitor Center.
The fort was again abandoned during WWII, falling victim to vandals and weather. Interest renewed in the '50s and the fort became a part of Nevada's State Park System in 1957. The buildings that remain are in ruins; others simply no longer exist, and only markers tell what structures once stood there. The Division of State Parks maintains these ruins in a state of arrested decay.
USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:
- Name: Old Fort Churchill Type: Historical Class: Military ID: 1681361
- Location: Lyon, Nevada, US, FIPS Code: 32019
- Latitude: 39.2927778, Longitude: -119.2700000, Elevation: 4255 Map: Churchill Butte
- As Of: 1 Jan 1991
- Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names
Location: Eight miles south of Silver Springs on Alt. U.S. 95, Lyon County, Nevada
Maps & Images Lat: 39.2925 Long: -119.27056
- Hart, Herbert M., Tour Guide to Old Western Forts, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder CO, 1980, ISBN 0-87108-568-2, page 91-92
- Frazer, Robert W., Forts of the West, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1965, ISBN 0-8061-1250-6, page 92
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 490-491
- North American Forts - Fort Churchill
- Wikipedia - Fort Churchill State Historic Park
- Nevada State Parks
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