The Two Battles of Pyramid Lake

Along Highway 447 a historical marker denotes the Pyramid Lake Wars I & II. At marker 148, the overlook area features a cultural landscape of the battlefield of the second war. Visitors can view a landscape that retains its basic feel and characteristic of the 1860 setting including a meandering Truckee River and to the east terraces with steep banks and alluvial fans emanating from the mountains.

That period of time was turbulent as white settlers and miners infiltrated onto native soil which pressured the Paiutes to defend their homeland. This encroachment and a series of crimes committed on both sides including the kidnapping of two Paiute girls fueled the catalyst of war. On May 12, 1860 Major William Ormsby formed a militia of 105 volunteers and trekked to tribal encampments located in today’s town of Nixon. The militia; however, was met by over 100 tribal forces which included the Paiutes, and several bands of Shoshone and Bannocks who for the first time joined together to soundly defeated the militia. Fear of an uprising spread throughout white settlements and on June 2, 1860 the U.S. Army retaliated. On that day, high ranking military officers led a combined 754 army regulars and militia long the Truckee River where they found tribal men, women, children and elders along the banks. Tribal men held off the army, while Paiute women, children and elders fled to the north.

Following the wars, the tribe was confined to the reservation under the watchful eye of the military. Both battlefields are located on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal reservation and are not open to the general public.

The historical marker parking area is ADA accessible but there is no public restroom and the area has spotty cell service.



Maker 158 along Hwy 447


Sunrise - sunset


Care, ADA


Pull off highway parking