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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mystery of the Winchester Model 1873 rifle found propped against a tree in Great Basin Desert

There it is, hidden in plain view (more photos on Great Basin Facebook Page).

That looks to be a somewhat unforgiving area; it is not unthinkable that the owner died near where the rifle was found and his remains were scattered by time and nature.  Then again, it would not be the first or last time a hunter simply lost track of where he put his rifle.

Anyway, being as the internet is a fickle friend and often lets superbly interesting news articles vanish, I'm posting two reference links.

Click HERE for the CNN version

Click HERE for the Washington Post version

Below are photos of an intact Winchester 1873 that left the factory in 1891; although it is a bit "younger," it still would be a near twin to the Mystery Rifle.

 The photo above shows the ejection port sliding dust-cover OPEN.

The photo above shows ejection port sliding dust-cover CLOSED.  It is not unusual to find the dust-covers missing on utility grade 1873 rifles; they frequently jam the action so they are removed and set aside by the owners.  The dust-cover on this rifle is not an original.  I was unable to see if there was a dust-cover on the Mystery Rifle.


Glenn B said...

I might be willing to believe that the rifle leaned against that tree for 100 years (as at least one of the articles said)if anyone took the time to determine the age of the tree as being, lets say at least 110 years old. Sure, I know that Junipers can live to astounding ages but I am just a bit skeptical of their claim with no proof offered of the trees current age. I suppose its that cynical investigator side of me that makes me look for proof. That the rifle has been out in the elements a long time seems almost without doubt. Sure would be interesting to solve the mystery of to whom it belonged and how it arrived where it was found.

James Zachary said...

If you run across anything, let us know. It is a cool story.

Both articles (IIRC) said the rifle was unloaded. Does your retired G-MAN instincts give that any significance?

It would be great to have a forensic team go over that site.

Glenn B said...

Yeah, the guy ran out of bullets. (lol)

Jason said...

Is that your 1873 in the other pictures Zack?

James Zachary said...

Hey there Jason!

Yep. I'd really like to hang it on the wall or over the fireplace, but that may be asking for a burglary unless I go to living with the drapes always closed and banning all visitors ;)

It is now back in the safe.