You may recall that an archaeological crew stumbled onto a old rifle leaning against a tree during a survey of the Great Basin national park last November. The Las Vegas reviewjournal.com now reports that “the park sent the Winchester Model 1873 this year to be examined and stabilized in its current, weathered condition. In the process, the staff at Cody took an X-ray of the rifle and discovered a cartridge tucked inside its stock where cleaning rods normally were kept.” And so . . .
The .44-40 caliber bullet was carefully removed and traced back to its long-gone manufacturer: Connecticut-based Union Metallic Cartridge Co., which merged with Remington in 1912.
Jensen said the folks in Cody believe the cartridge was made sometime between 1889 and 1911.
They also were able to determine the rifle was manufactured in February 1882 and shipped from Winchester’s factory in New Haven, Conn., in June 1882. But the Winchester records kept at the museum did not reveal where the gun was shipped or what happened to it after that.
The Winchester has been preserved in its current state. It will go on display at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, welcomed home with a screening of the 1950 Western Winchester ’73 starring Jimmy Stewart [before the four rules of gun safety kicked in].