A recent find in the Nevada desert has left archeologists scratching their heads. Eva Jensen, a Program Manager with the National Park Service, recently found an old Winchester Model 1873 Rifle in Great Basin National Park, which had apparently been left learning against a Juniper tree…for over 100 years . . .
The 132-year-old rifle, exposed to sun, wind, snow, and rain was found leaning against a tree in the park. The cracked wood stock, weathered to grey, and the and the brown rusted barrel blended into the colors of the old juniper tree in a remote rocky outcrop, keeping the rifle hidden for many years…. The rifle was not loaded when it was found, but would have held .44-40 caliber ammunition when in use….
Model 1873 rifles hold a prominent place in Western history and lore. The rifles are referred to as “the gun that won the West”…. Selling for about $50 when they first came out, the rifles reduced in price to $25 in 1882 and were accessible and popular as “everyman’s” rifle….
Who left the rifle? When and why was it leaned against the tree? And, why was it never retrieved? The Great Basin cultural resource staff is continuing research…hoping to resolve some of the mystery….
I have to confess, as a history buff, this is a really cool find. I just hope that whomever left the rifle leanin’ against an old juniper tree didn’t find himself (herself?) needing it soon thereafter.