As The Washington Post reports, archaeologists surveying Nevada’s Great Basin National Park recently discovered an 1882-production Model 1873 Winchester, chambered in .44-40, leaning against a juniper tree. The rifle’s rough condition suggests the firearm has likely not been moved from the spot for more than 100 years.
Personnel at the National Park Service don’t know why the firearm was left against the tree, but note the Great Basin was heavily mined in the late nineteenth century, which may provide clues to the identity of the rifle’s onetime owner.
The Model 1873 Winchester is often referred to as “The Gun That Won the West,” given its storied reputation among hunters and settlers of the era. The model was also extremely popular—Winchester produced more than 702,000 of them between 1873 and the early 1920s.
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Cover photo via Great Basin National Park’s Facebook.