History comes alive at Buckland Station | NevadaAppeal.com

History comes alive at Buckland Station

Rich Moreno

Restored Buckland Station, now part of the Fort Churchill State Historic Park near Fallon.
Courtesy of William Hoffknecht

It is still possible to imagine the sound of a creaking stagecoach coming to a stop in front of Buckland Station.

Located about 40 miles east of Carson City via U.S. 50 and Alternate U.S. 95, Buckland Station remains one of the few intact Overland Stage stops in Nevada. The large, two-story white wooden building is a fascinating reminder of an adventurous age when traveling west was a risky and dangerous ordeal.

Records indicate that Samuel S. Buckland settled on the site in 1859 and began ranching. He also established a tent hotel, which accommodated the wagon train settlers crossing the Emigrant Trail through Nevada, and a station for the Overland Stage Co.

During that time, it is also believed that he constructed the first bridge across the Carson River.

By March 1860, Buckland had erected a large ranch house that contained a trading post, tavern and hotel. He also agreed to allow the Pony Express to utilize his facility.

Additionally, on May 11, 1860, Buckland Station assumed a minor but important role in Nevada history. That day, a citizen militia stayed overnight at Buckland before heading north to participate in the first battle of the Pyramid Lake Indian War. The men requisitioned Pony Express horses and headed north.

Four days later, the survivors of the battle straggled back to Buckland, having been soundly defeated by the Indians. By summer of that year, the U.S. government had decided to build a fort in Nevada to protect the growing population of the state from hostile tribes, who, ironically, were only trying to protect their traditional homeland from the onslaught of settlers.

About a mile from the station, the U.S. Army erected Fort Churchill, which became the new stopping point for the Pony Express until the service went out of business in 1861.

In November 1861, the Nevada territorial government designated Buckland Station as the seat of Churchill County. This legal status stayed with the site until 1864, when Nevada became a state and more accurate county lines were drawn. At that point, Buckland became part of Lyon County.

In 1870, Buckland built the present two-story structure, which was originally a hotel with dance hall, dining room and saloon. Interestingly, the hotel was partially constructed from wood sold at auction to Buckland by the U.S. Army when it decommissioned and dismantled Fort Churchill.

The decline in stage traffic in the late 1870s marked the end of Buckland Station as an important way stop. The building was later converted into a private residence and was inhabited until about the 1950s.

Today, the station is the property of Nevada State Parks and part of the Carson River Ranch unit of Fort Churchill Historic State Park. The structure has been restored and is open for tours. Inside, displays tell the story of the Buckland family and describe the area’s rich history.

Rich Moreno writes about the places and people that make Nevada special.