‘Forgotten Winchester’

The invaluable History Blog has a couple of add’l facts on what has been dubbed “The Forgotten Winchester” — although as I said in my earlier post it seems to me unlikely the old gun was forgotten or even simply misplaced. The Stars & Stripes story referred to a bullet found in the stock of the rifle, but I assumed that must have been an error in terminology, since the Winchester’s tubular magazine runs underneath the barrel, not up through the stock (as some earlier repeaters did). Turns out I should have trusted the reporter’s accuracy. An x-ray did in fact discover an unfired cartridge in the stock, in a compartment designed to hold not bullets but a cleaning rod and accessories. Why the owner would have pushed a bullet up there is another minor mystery to add to the other questions about the gun’s history.

Second interesting fact: “The Juniper tree that was its home for so long alas is no longer with us. Just two years after the rifle was found, a wildfire burned the hillside above Strawberry Creek where the Forgotten Winchester had resided. Its comfy leaning tree was devastated in the conflagration. All that is left of it is a black stick. Had Eva Jensen’s keen powers of observation not spotted the rifle — which had weathered to such a consistently grey color that it looked practically indistinguishable from the tree — it would have burned to nothingness and nobody alive would have known it ever existed.”

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