FORT CHURCHILL STATE HISTORIC PARK
An integral part of the history of Nevada and the American West, Fort Churchill was built in 1861 to provide protection for early settlers and guard Pony Express mail runs. Today the ruins are preserved in a state of arrested decay within the Fort Churchill State Historic Park, and visitors can walk designated trails to study the ruins. The park also features the renovated Buckland Station, an important way station in the 1800s for pioneer travelers on the Overland Route. With 3,200 acres along the Carson River, the park is an idyllic place for campers, hikers, bird watchers, canoeists and equestrians.
Nevadas first, largest and most elaborate military outpost was active from its establishment in July 1860, through an era rife with local and national conflict, and up to its abandonment in the fall of 1869. During this tumultuous yet significant decade in the history of Nevada and the American West, Fort Churchill helped to bring about a semblance of Federal control over a quickly developing and resource-rich area that lacked effective government control. The troops stationed at Fort Churchill protected California-bound emigrants, safeguarded the Pony Express and telegraph lines, fought battles and skirmishes with local Native Americans, protected area settlements, intervened in miners disputes and quelled any uprisings brought about by the Civil War.
The Fort was abandoned in 1869 and the adobe buildings were auctioned for $750. In 1884 the remains of soldiers buried in the post cemetery were moved to the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City. The remaining graves are those of Samuel and Eliza Buckland, and five of their eight children.
In the early 1930s, the Nevada Sagebrush Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution took an interest in preserving the Fort and had 200 acres transferred to the State of Nevada. Then, in 1935, under the guidance of the National Park Service, the Civilian Conservation Corps spent two years stabilizing the ruins and creating a viable state park. Facilities for camping and picnicking were constructed, as well as the building which currently serves as the park museum and Visitors Center.
World War II stretched Americas resources and the Fort was again abandoned, falling victim to vandals and weather. The 1950s brought with it a renewed interest in historic Fort Churchill and, in 1957, the Fort became a part of the Nevada State Park System. Fort Churchill remains an integral and significant chapter in the history of Nevada and the American West.
Today, a visit to Fort Churchill requires some imagination. Many buildings no longer exist, and those that do are in various states of ruin or arrested decay. While the daily sights, sounds and smells once associated with the proud military fort are long gone, the stories associated with the historic site will not be forgotten.
The main campground has 20 sites suitable for travel trailers, motorhomes or tents. Campsites include a table and fire ring, and all are shaded by large cottonwood trees. Sites cannot be reserved and there are no hook-ups, but an RV dump station is nearby. A camping limit of 7 days in a 30-day period is enforced.
Scout Camp is located on the Carson River Ranch section of Fort Churchill, adjacent to the Carson River. It is a large, dispersed camping or day-use area that includes picnic tables, fire rings with grill tops, one vault toilet, and multiple horse corrals. Scout Camp is a carry in, carry out trash area. Horse manure needs to be picked up and carried out, or disposed of in the designated manure dump. There is no electricity or water available here. To reserve the area please call the park office.
The group area will accommodate up to 60 persons for group camping or picnicking on a reservation-only basis. No electricity is available. No RVs, please. For reservations, contact the park office.