The old musket pictured above was retrieved from Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin two years ago. It appears to be a "trade musket" that was manufactured about 200 years ago. From boatingwinnebago.com:
The story resonates with me, because 35 years ago, I spent considerable time dragging grappling hooks along the bottom of Lake Winnebago. I worked with a Wisconsin Conservation Warden. I will simply call him "Tom" because he was a law officer that was a little off his rocker. We never found any muskets, but we did pull up a few old fishing rods and plenty of sticks.
“It was around 11 a.m. on Sept. 4 and as soon as I saw the barrel I knew what it was,” he said.
There — hooked on the end of his anchor — was a flintlock musket, rusted and weathered by the passage of time.
“This is crazy. It’s like one of those tall fish tales,” he thought as he held the ancient musket in hand and turned his 14-foot Lakeland fishing boat toward shore near Clarence’s harbor.
The 47-inch heavy iron barrel was coated with zebra mussels and a large portion of the wooden stock was missing — eaten way after centuries of resting at the bottom of the big lake.
One day, it was getting late. We had already put in 12 hours or so on other matters. At that time, the State of Wisconsin did not pay for any hours past 56 per week. Tom had already passed that level.
A big storm was coming on, and Tom said that he was going out on the lake to drag for set lines. That was the idea of dragging with the grappling hooks. Set lines were illegal in Wisconsin. I advised Tom not to do it. I did not think the risk was worth it. To get a better idea of the benefit end of the equation, I asked him how long he had been dragging for set lines. He said eight years. I asked him how many set lines he had found.
He looked at me, hesitated, then said: "I haven't found any - yet - but I will some day!" With that he took his boat and left to drag for non-existent set lines, in the middle of a big lake, by himself, at night, with a significant storm coming on, for no pay.
Years later, I heard that he had been fired from the Warden force for some infraction. I wasn't all that surprised.
I wish I had snagged that musket!
Just because the musket was about 200 years old, does not mean that it was lost on Lake Winnebago 200 years ago. Flintlocks are still in use. It could reasonably have been lost at any time up to about 1900.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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