Friday, July 22, 2011

Travelog: Winchester Historic Firearms Museum

Sorry I've been away for a while. Besides being really busy with DarkThreadsy stuff, I was away on a business trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. However, I did find some time to indulge in a personal interest. I went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA, which also happens to be home to the largest collection of Winchester rifles on the west coast.

(Photo: Theodore Roosevelt with his engraved Henry model)

Oliver Winchester started the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. in 1857, famous for the Henry Repeating Rifle, known as "the gun that won the west."

The Winchester Historic Firearms Museum displays many historical firearms, including several that are hundreds of years old, and the famous limited edition Winchester rifles.

Close up of the matchlock - the oldest firearm in the collection (15th c.). The matchlock was the first weapon to use a mechanism for firing.

Close up of the wheellock (16th c.) - the next step in the evolution of firearms.

Next comes the flintlock...well you get the idea. My father actually built one of these himself. Shoutout to my blackpowder reenactor friends! Fun times!

Limited edition Winchester rifles:

Another thing I learned is that Winchester made pistols, also on display in the museum.

Of course, I also took a tour of the "mystery house" - built by Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester and heiress to the Winchester fortune. The house truly is a mystery, with 160 rooms, miles of labyrinthine hallways, secret passageways, and inexplicably placed doors and windows. It is said that Mrs. Winchester never got over the untimely deaths of her child and her husband, and having $20 million (=unlimited budget) and lots of time on her hands, what else is a girl to do?

It was well worth the ticket price (which obviously goes to the maintenance of the property), and I would definitely visit again, if I'm in the neighborhood.
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