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Mystery 132-year-old rifle found in national park

The park said the rifle appears to have been leaning against the juniper tree for "many years."

By Ben Hooper
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The engraving reading "Model 1873" on the Winchester rifle found in Great Basin National Park. Photo by U.S. National Park Service
The engraving reading "Model 1873" on the Winchester rifle found in Great Basin National Park. Photo by U.S. National Park Service

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK, Nev., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Officials at Nevada's Great Basin National Park said they are trying to determine the origins of a 132-year-old rifle found leaning against a tree.

Park officials said the rifle, identified by an engraving on its side as a Model 1873 Winchester manufactured in 1882, was found blending in with the colors of a juniper tree in the park and seems to have been there for "many years."

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The officials wrote on the park's Facebook page the rifle was "exposed to sun, wind, snow, and rain" and features "a cracked wood stock, weathered to grey" and the barrel has "rusted" to brown.

The park said researchers are seeking to answer questions including: "Who left the rifle? When and why it was leaned against the tree? And, why was it never retrieved?"

The Facebook page said the park will allow the public to view the rifle before it is sent off to conservators to undergo treatment and preserve it the way it was found. The rifle will return to the park to be displayed as part of the Great Basin National Park 30th Birthday and the National Park Service Centennial celebration.

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