An 1877 Colt .38 revolver arrived loaded at the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum.
"When a gun comes in cocked and half loaded, you don’t have to be a CSI guy to figure out that whatever happened wasn’t good for the gun’s owner," says Hans Kurth, who with his wife, Eva, founded and manages the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum in Cody, Wyo.
“Broken stuff was all I could afford to buy when I started collecting guns,” Kurth says. He began building his trove of firearms at age 8. Thirty-three years later he takes good care of some 900 ruined and rusted rifles, shotguns, and pistols once used in events from the Civil War to World War II to a 19th-century Nevada jailbreak.
“These aren’t guns that spent all their lives in a box in a desk drawer,” Kurth says. “These guns and their owners paved the way out here. They stretch the imagination.”
Kurth can’t help puzzling over one unusual musket in the collection: It was found in California in the fork of a madrone tree, which had grown up around it and encased it in wood.
Open some days in April (call for times and dates), and daily May through September. (307) 587-3344, codydugupgunmuseum.com.
Photography by D. Robert Franz
This article was first published in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.