New Info on Winchester Rifle Left Leaning Against a Tree in the Great Basin National Park

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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 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].


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  1. avatar MrB-inTX. says:

    They don’t make ’em like they used to!!

    1. avatar Don says:

      Nominee for the earliest IGOD award.

  2. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Very cool…now I need a functioning Winchester 73…

  3. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

    One of the great guns of the west. I would love to know the story of the cowboy who left it against that tree. He probably cursed that day. There is still romance in the west despite our worlds relativism. May God rest his soul.

  4. avatar Pantera Vazquez says:

    History, forever in the making.

  5. avatar TxDuallyDog says:

    Awesome gun , the local gun shop owner has several old Winchesters he keeps on display way up high where no one can touch them . I’ve got a Uberti 44-40 Henry replica .Fun to shoot .

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  7. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    Not sure I’d want a ‘left leaning” rifle.

    1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      Thems were the days! Even left leaning rifles didn’t think twice about hanging around National Parks….

    2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      You win an internet

    3. avatar NYC2AZ says:


      I’m guessing a “left-leaning rifle” would endlessly apologize for its existence and its “high capacity guilt” (who needed more than 6 rounds in 1873?!?!).

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    If that that tree doesn’t have a license, it’s in big trouble.

  9. avatar Jwestham2 says:

    That was the first western movie I ever saw. Still my favorite to this day.

    Made me want a winchester 73. Just need $15k

    1. avatar Chuck in IL says:

      Spend 5 or 600 and get a good used Italian replica. Well made, and you don’t have to worry about shooting the guts out of it. Few things more fun than ringing steel with a lever gun.

  10. avatar barnbwt says:

    Why don’t my f***-ups end up in a museum?

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Just give it a hundred years or so.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      Maybe they can get hired to work in a museum.

      1. avatar Bob in MI says:

        Damn, that is ice cold.

  11. avatar Hoplopfheil says:

    Just me personally, I would never leave one of my guns in the woods. Those things are expensive!

  12. avatar Southerner says:

    “The .44-40 caliber bullet was carefully removed…”

    Imagine that, a 44 caliber lead bullet somehow lodged in the stock. Could this be the missing piece of the puzzle?

    1. avatar Chuck in IL says:

      It was a spare cartridge, stored in the stock.

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