20 January 2015

Where did you leave... your Winchester?

Perhaps the questions should be more... why was it left, and by whom?

Last November a Model 1873 15-shot Winchester repeating rifle was found leaning against a tree in the Great Basin area of Nevada. It wasn't loaded. 

Archeologist Eva Jensen and her team were doing a sweep of the Snake Mountains area looking for Native American artefacts before a controlled burn when a reflected glint from the sun caught her eye and she went to investigate. Not quite the artefact she was expecting, but perhaps more astonishing. The Cody West Firearms Museum dated its manufacture to 1882.

So who leaned it against a tree and never returned for it? A miner? A hunter? A Native American?

The Model 1873 Winchester became known as 'the weapon that won the West', and there was still  enough power in its name for Hollywood to title a 1950 movie in its honour - Winchester '73 - starring James Stewart.

As might be expected of the find in Nevada, there was plenty of coverage across in the States, but more surprising has been the response in the UK. The Telegraph had a half page spread about it in its Saturday 17 January edition. It was even mentioned, alongside the re-discovered Beagle2 craft on Mars, in its Editorial.

Who said interest in the Old West was dead?