Los Angeles: A 130-year-old weather-beaten rifle touted as "the gun that won the West" has been found leaning against a tree at the mountains of remote eastern Nevada in the US.
Abandoned for ages, the Winchester Model 1873 firearm propped up against a juniper tree in Great Basin National Park in Nevada, was found by a park employee who worked in the area with an archaeology team.
Archaeologist Eva Jensen said the Winchester company, based in New Haven, produced 720,000 of the model from 1873 to 1916.
The Winchester Model rifles, referred in history as "the gun that won the West", indicates it was made in 1882, Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.
The .44-caliber rifle wasn't loaded. It could fire 15 shots without reloading.
The gun's location on a wooded, craggy hillside with a commanding view of the valley to the east suggested a good strategic spot for a gun battle. Maybe the gun jammed and was abandoned.
As per the weapon's order number, it was shipped from the Connecticut warehouse in 1882. Jensen couldn't locate who ordered the gun or where it went.
In 1873, the Winchester originally sold for USD 50, but the price dropped in half during a subsequent recession, Jensen said. It is equivalent of more than USD 1000 today.
She said it's something much more ? a mystery that continues to baffle the staff at Great Basin National Park as who owned it. She said everyone has a different theory about what would have happened.
Jensen said the area has a history of mining, ranching and hunting, and park researchers are scouring historical documents to learn who might have owned it.
Jensen consulted the Buffalo Bill Museum and determined that the gun in her possession was made in 1882.