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Museum Minute: The firearm of the first woman who rode across the country on horseback

A rifle that belonged to Nan Aspinwall that was manufactured in the 1920's and 1930's.
The Buffalo Bill Museum
Cody Firearms Museum Curator Danny Michael says this rifle that belonged to Nan Aspinwall was manufactured in the 1920s and 1930s.

Nan Aspinwall is the first woman to ride across the country solo on horseback. She completed the nearly 4,500 mile journey from San Francisco to New York in 1911. A bet between Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill allegedly inspired her journey.

Aspinwall was also a sharpshooter and trick roper in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. A firearm that was likely given to her years after her famous ride and her time with the show is on display at the Cody Firearms Museum.

Curator Danny Michael said the receiver on her Remington model 24 rifle is nickel-plated with scrollwork engraving, and it says on it “presented to Two-Gun Nan.”

“And those features on a somewhat utilitarian gun, those would be something we might expect on maybe a nicer, higher-end type gun, but to see it here on this gun is really interesting, meant as a special gift to this public figure, so that makes it a unique version of an otherwise somewhat basic firearm,” he said.

Aspinwall’s firearm is part of an upcoming exhibit that features the firearms of Buffalo Bill and performers in the Wild West show. It will be open to the public concurrently with the Advertising the Frontier Myth: Poster Art of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West exhibit.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.<br/>