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The old musket pictured above was retrieved from Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin two years ago. It appears to be a “trade musket” manufactured about 200 years ago. From . . .

“It was around 11 a.m. on Sept. 4 and as soon as I saw the barrel I knew what it was,” he said.

There — hooked on the end of his anchor — was a flintlock musket, rusted and weathered by the passage of time.

“This is crazy. It’s like one of those tall fish tales,” he thought as he held the ancient musket in hand and turned his 14-foot Lakeland fishing boat toward shore near Clarence’s harbor.

The 47-inch heavy iron barrel was coated with zebra mussels and a large portion of the wooden stock was missing — eaten way after centuries of resting at the bottom of the big lake.

The story resonates with me, because 35 years ago, I spent considerable time dragging grappling hooks along the bottom of Lake Winnebago. I worked with a Wisconsin Conservation Warden. I will simply call him “Tom” because he was a law officer that was a little off his rocker. We never found any muskets, but we did pull up a few old fishing rods and plenty of sticks.

No guns, though. Pity. I wish I had snagged that musket. Of course, just because the musket was about 200 years old doesn’t necessarily mean that it was lost on Lake Winnebago 200 years ago. Flintlocks are still in use. It could reasonably have been lost at any time up to about 1900.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

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    • I can’t be certain without the rest of the buttstock but it’s either a low end fusil de Chasse (hunting gun) carried by voyageurs and coureurs de bois or a Northwest trade gun. The trade guns were used as treaty payments to the northeast Indians. That kept them at peace with the English and slaughtering each other. The Company would have been proud.


      • No, this looks like a Tanegashima, a Japanese matchlock. This means that there must have been Japanese Samurai who traveled to the area after being warned by Japanese time travelers that Japan loses World War 2 and the Shogun, believing defeat in the future by his descendants to be a dishonorable act, dispatched his best warriors to find the ancestors of the US generals and admirals and kill them so they can’t be born.

        Basically, this is like The Terminator without Skynet, John Connor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  1. The oshkosh area is great. Big deer and a ton of crazy aerospace tech. Interesting find for such a big lake. Wish I could have made it up this summer.

  2. No expert in these matters but judging from what I can see of the action, especially the trigger gaurd, I would say it’s indeed a trade musket. Likely French.

  3. Is there any chance that the low oxygen environment at the bottom of that cold lake could have preserved it enough that it could be brought back to life? Like those ancient extinct trees that don’t rot and then they are sold as exotic wood??? Hmmmm that’d be cool.

  4. I just snagged a 1858 Remington Beal’s Army Revolver that was dug up from a Civil War battlefield in NW Arkansas some seventy or so years ago.

    Old firearms finds are great. That Winchester lever gun that was found a couple years ago in tree was another good story.

    Here’s a link to an 1873 Winchester that was found 100 years later in Wales, AK with the skeleton of an Eskimo . An it’s being auctioned off by Goodwill Industries as a donated item:

  5. A 200 year old musket from Lake Winnenago is cool. But y’know what would be even more cool? A 200 year old Winnebago from Lake Musket.

  6. Yup. Every so often someone comes across something like this out there. I know of one that was discovered by an associate of my father. Someone found a civil war era rifle inside of a tree. I can only image someone propped his rifle and had was either killed or otherwise had to flee and the tree just grew around it.

  7. Good thing this didn’t happen in New Jersey. He would be off to prison for having an illegal weapon.

  8. Good thing it wasn’t found in a Winnebago. The poor driver would have been carted off and jailed.

  9. S. Watts, and D.Feinstein will probably say “Check the serial number”, to see if it’s stolen.

  10. Apparently firearms have been getting lost in “tragic boating accidents” for a lot longer than I thought.

  11. I think I’d go out with a big-ass magnet instead of dragging an anchor or big grappling hook.

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