Home Good Old Days Park ranger discovers 135 year old Winchester rifle… Resting against an old...

Park ranger discovers 135 year old Winchester rifle… Resting against an old tree!


Great Basin National Park was established in 1986. Employees of Nevada’s Great Basin National Park made quite the discovery when they found a Winchester 1873 leaning up against a tree in a remote part of the park.

Over the years the rifle had become rusted and weathered into the same colors of the juniper tree that it was leaning against, creating a natural camouflage!

Junipers vary in size and shape from tall trees to columnar or low spreading shrubs with long trailing branches. They are evergreen with needle-like and/or scale-like leaves. In some species these “berries” are red-brown or orange but in most they are blue; they are often aromatic and can be used as a spice.

Archaeologists believe that the rifle dates back to 1882; 135 years old! The factory records obscure the rifle’s original owner, so we’re still unsure of where this gun came from.

The Model 1873 was one of the most successful Winchester rifles of its day, gaining the reputation as “The Gun that Won the West”.

It was produced in three variations: a 24-inch barrel rifle, 20-inch barrel carbine, and a “musket”. The “musket” is a term that, at the time, denoted a full length military-style stock. The easy to transport and handle carbine was the most popular variation of this rile.

What do you think of the employees of the National Park discovering the rifle years after the park was established? Do you think it should have been found sooner? Use the comments section below and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

— John 14:27