Researchers are trying to solve the mystery surrounding the discovery of a weathered, rusted Winchester rifle in the mountains of remote eastern Nevada.
The gun manufactured in 1882 was found leaning against a juniper tree on a rocky outcrop in Great Basin National Park during an archaeological survey in November.
According to Yahoo news, Nichole Andler, the park’s chief of interpretation, said officials may never know when the .44-40 rifle was placed there, but it’s possible it could have been left undisturbed since the 1800s.
The area along the Utah border has a history of mining, ranching and hunting, she said, and park researchers are scouring historical documents to learn who might have owned the rifle.
“I would say the possibilities are wide open as to who owned the rifle and why it was left there,” Andler said. “It leaves a lot to the imagination and it may be a mystery that’s never solved.”
Herbert Houze is the former curator of what became known as the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.
Archaeologists said they found the 132-year-old rifle propped against a tree in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park.
It is unclear exactly how long the Winchester rifle had been left there, but it was long enough to leave the stock cracked and buried in dirt.
“It really is a mystery,” said Nichole Andler, a spokeswoman for the park.
The Winchester rifle was common at the turn of the 20th century in the US West during a time when the now parklands were used for mining and ranching.
More than 700,000 rifles were made by the firm between 1873 and 1916.
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