State workers in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park recently came across a Winchester Model 1873 rifle propped against a tree in the desert. It’s unclear how long the rifle had been resting in the desolate location, but from its condition and the fact that it was produced in 1882, it would seem it’s been a long time.
Here’s how CNN began its story about the find:
“If this rifle could talk.”
If that rifle could talk it would probably say something along the lines of “I’m really, really bored” or “Where the hell have you been?”
CNN opted to give the gun a more colloquial tone in its musings:
“In a gravelly voice, it may recite a yarn of weary settlers swaying on horses’ backs in the parched, rocky Nevada wilderness. It may talk about riding in a saddle holster across neighboring Utah more than a decade before it became a state of the union.”
Left out is the possibility that the Winchester’s owner went off to use the bathroom and forgot where he put his gun, or that he got himself so gooned up on cheap firewater that he couldn’t find his horse, never mind his rifle.
Of course, if the rifle could talk, it would be a pretty amazing rifle because none of the rifles, shotguns or handguns I’ve seen or handled has so much as uttered a single word. It would be worth a pretty penny, I’d imagine, whether it was 130-plus years old or not.
CNN goes on to speculate further:
“Who knows how many years the rifle stood there, after someone left behind the model called ‘the gun that won the West.’ Did they have to depart in a hurry – running from danger? Or did they not see it, as it stood neatly camouflaged against the arid trunk of the juniper tree?”
Ah, unfounded speculation, the secret garden of the reporter with space to fill, a deadline to meet and few actual facts.
What is known is that the gun was manufactured and shipped in 1882. The Great Basin National Park staff was able to determine that from the weapon’s model name and serial number, which are still legible.
A couple of facts CNN didn’t have to imagine: The rifle will be conserved in the condition it was found, and it will become part of the display commemorating the park’s 30th birthday in 2016.
No word on whether the Winchester will have a speaking role.
(Top: Winchester Model 1873 rifle found propped against tree in Great Basin National Park. Photo Courtesy: Great Basin National Park.)