1882 Winchester Rifle – The Mystery


1882 Winchester Rifle - The Mystery

In this article we will be looking at a mystery that began in the ​Great Basin National Park when a 1882 Winchester rifle was discovered by employees…

The Discovery

The discovery happened on November of 2014 when employees of the Nevada Great Basin National Park came upon an antique rifle leaning up against a tree.

The park was searched daily but this was the first time the employees had come across anything this old.

When they examined the gun they could tell it was an antique piece – the barrel was naturally rusted and the wood bore an old, patina crack to it. The employees thought it must be the prized possession of a hunter, left behind by mistake.


When the gun was put through analysis they discovered that it was a genuine Model 1873 that was manufactured in 1882.

But why was this priceless item left leaning against a park tree? Surely it hadn’t been standing there for over a 100 years?

When experts were called in they informed the park that the gun would have cost about $25 in 1882 – that was a pretty hefty price at the time ( about $500 worth in our time! ).

Also, in 1882 there were only about 25,000 rifles of that model manufactured. The manufacture line went on from about 1873 to 1919.

The Owner?

The Winchester Company offered an explanation that the gun must of belonged to a lone rider at the time who simply forgot it at the base of a tree – not many people went along with that idea as you can imagine!

The rifle went through further analysis including a x-ray session at the local hospital. They eventually discovered that the rifle had been slightly altered at some point in it’s history – it was now only able to fire a single shot.

Park historians were called in to see if there were any ‘stand out’ events that had happened in the area – maybe leading to the rifle being left there. They found nothing of note.

The mystery still remains unsolved with a member of the Cody Firearms Museum in Wyoming claiming it will always remain that way. He believes the way in which the rifle was simply left there will stump all attempts to clear up it’s history.

A respected pawn shop in Las Vegas has valued the gun at a really high price due to the strange history and story surrounding it.

It is currently kept under lock and key at he Cody Firearms Museum but will eventually be returned to the Park for display purposes.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the mystery of the 1882 Winchester rifle, please leave them in the comment section below.

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