130 Year Old Winchester Rifle Found in Great Basin National Park

GreatBasinRifle009The Winchester Repeating Rifle Model 1873 was so prevalent on the American frontier – with nearly 3/4 of a million produced between 1873 and 1916 – that it was dubbed The Gun that Won the West.  One particular 1873 was also The Gun that was Lost in the West.

Workers in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park found the rifle propped against a tree last November and have been working to track down its origins.  Although severely weathered after having been exposed to the elements, the rifle appears to be in relatively good condition with the serial number and other barrel markings readable.  Those markings were used to help trace the rifle back to its 1882 date of manufacter, according to records held at the Cody Firearms Museum’s Center for the West in Cody, Wyoming.

It is unclear exactly how long the rifle has been waiting to be discovered in Great Basin NP or why it was left there.  Researchers continue to hunt for clues to find out whether it was left there by a forgetful real life Old West cowboy or perhaps in more recent decades by a hunter who may have lost track of the lever-action rifle during a pit stop.

Although the date of manufacture was tracked down, there do not appear to be any records of who purchased the rifle or from which warehouse it was shipped.  According to the park’s Facebook page, more than 25,000 such rifles were produced that year with a price tag of $25, lowered that year from the original price of $50.  The historic firearm will be preserved the condition in which was found – including weathered wood and rusted metal – to become part of the display commemorating the park’s 30th year in 2016.

Check out more photos below from the US National Park Service:

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