Dennis Cassinelli: Possible artifacts from the Pyramid Lake Indian War battlefield

A few weeks after I first printed my series of articles about the tragic Pyramid Lake Indian Wars, I was contacted by someone who chose not to reveal his name or contact information. This anonymous person claimed that more than 40 years before, he and members of his family had visited the site of the Pyramid Lake Indian War along the Truckee River. During this visit to the site, he and his relatives had found several artifacts he believed were from the Pyramid Lake Indian War battles.

The man had taken several photographs of the items he had found and he told me that his relatives also had found some artifacts including weapons, but he had no photos of them.

I was skeptical about the story, even though the photos appeared to be genuine. I have had experience with people who tried to pass off phony artifacts as genuine before. Finally, when I was working as a volunteer tour guide at the Nevada State Museum, I decided to show the photos to an artifact expert at the museum for his opinion.

I was told that the items in the photos appeared to be from the time of the Pyramid Lake battles. The rifle barrel and the type of action on the weapon were from the 1860s. The rimfire cartridge, musket balls and the eyeglasses were all from the time of the Pyramid Lake Indian Wars. The corroded condition of the metal parts is a further indication of age. There was no other proof that the items were, indeed, from the Pyramid Lake battleground.

If the artifacts in this collection are genuine, they were likely the property of Maj. William Ormsby, Capt. Edward Storey or any of the other 76 militiamen killed during the battle.

Now, before anyone gets any bright ideas, I must caution you that all the items in the photos might have been taken illegally from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian reservation. The penalties for removing or searching for such items are severe.

Since I received these photos, I have felt I had an obligation to share them with the public since I am not aware of any other such items in existence. I welcome constructive reader comments or information concerning this collection.

This article is by Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli, who can be contacted on his blog at All Cassinelli’s books sold through this publication will be at a discount plus $3 for each shipment for postage and packaging.


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