%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
Nevada Government & Politics
Riches, Ranching & Railroads

Pyramid Lake War

In 1860 there was bloody conflict between Native Americans and Euro-Americans.  It began when two Paiute girls were kidnapped, and taken to a trading station on the Carson River.  When the Indians retaliated, three white men were killed.  Rumors quickly spread that there was an Indian uprising, and panicked settlers formed military companies.  About 100 men marched off to Pyramid Lake.

When the disorganized and unprepared settlers marched toward native settlements, the Indians attacked.  76 men were killed and 29 were wounded.  Among the dead was Major William Ormsby, the group's leader.

Frightened settlers raised another army, bringing in troops from California.  In May, 700 soldiers and volunteers set off again for Pyramid Lake and this time the natives were the losers.  There are differing accounts of the numbers of Indians who were killed, but recent studies estimate that about 160 Native Americans died.

It was a tragic event in Nevada history.  The Paiutes had lived peacefully with the settlers.  Fort Churchill was constructed as a result of the panic and violence associated with the Pyramid Lake Indian War, and troops were stationed there for several years.

Photo Credit:
Nevada Historical Society