Word of the rifle’s discovery traveled fast in rural Nevada. In January of 2015 the gun was placed on display at The Border Inn, a local café in Baker, Nevada, during their annual Sheepherders’ Gathering. A number of residents turned out to see if it might be the same rifle that was mislaid by some ancestor. One ranching family saw the gun and realized with disappointment it wasn’t their grandpa’s lost Winchester, because that rifle had several strands of copper wire wrapped around the barrel to help keep the magazine tube in place.
Much of the emotional appeal of “The Lost 1873” comes from speculation as to how the rifle came to be resting against a tree in wilds of Eastern Nevada. Some have attributed it to cattle rustlers, outlaws on the run, lost miners or wandering pioneers. As a professional historian, Ms. Jensen is understandably reluctant to join in the speculation, but she revealed some important new details about the rustic gun’s condition.
“We’re continuing to do our research. We know that the gun was originally shipped from the Winchester factory in 1882 and that it was well-used,” observed Jensen. “It has some crude stock repairs at the wrist area using metal pins and what may have been a leather or rawhide wrap. The cartridge lifter and carrier block have been intentionally removed from inside the action, turning it into a single-shot rifle, but the gun’s screw slots are not damaged so it was probably not disassembled numerous times. The gun was found unloaded, but there was a single UMC 44-40 cartridge found in the butt-trap recess, and that type of cartridge was manufactured sometime between 1889 and 1911. Over the years there has been a great deal of hunting, prospecting, sheep-herding and Native American pine nut gathering in the area where the gun was found, but beyond that, well…”
"If only this gun could talk, what a story it would tell,” said Glenn Hatt, product manager for Winchester Repeating Arms. “ ‘The Lost 1873’ has captured the imagination of all those who love the Wild West, both here in America and around the globe. It’s wonderful that this unique rifle has finally made it home to the headquarters of Winchester Repeating Arms for a visit.”
So, if this gun could talk, what do you think it would say? What’s the real story behind the “The Lost 1873” and how it came to be leaning against a juniper tree in the wilds of Nevada?
Read the original article on the Lost Model 1873.