(LOUISVILLE, February 16th, 2004, 11:30 a.m.) -- A Louisville museum scheduled to open in May has acquired a rifle believed to have belonged to George Washington.
"It is believed that over his life Washington owned some 35 or more firearms, largely pistols and sporting long guns," said Walter J. Karcheski, chief curator of arms and armor for the Frazier Historical Arms Museum. "Only three are known, one of which is believed to be that in the Frazier Museum."
The rifle at one time was on loan for display in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, but it has not been publicly displayed since 1971, according to a statement from the museum.
"Although our research is ongoing, an inscription on the buttplate and a growing body of supporting data suggests that this rifle was a gift to President Washington, perhaps presented to him at Mount Vernon in 1791," Karcheski said.
The statement from the museum did not provide details of how the rifle was acquired.
Exhibits at the museum when it opens are expected to include President Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick," the famous rifle he carried on an African expedition and guns owned by Gen. George Armstrong Custer. The museum also will display British and European armor and weapons dating to the 11th century.