Discovery of 500-year-old pistol parts sheds new light on Colorado's Spanish colonial history

The discovery of centuries-old pistol parts in Colorado is shedding new light on the state’s Spanish Colonial history.

The spring-loaded arm, known as a “dog” and trigger guard were once part of a wheellock pistol, according to the Museums of Western Colorado, which has released details of the fascinating find.

“The dog was found as part of an archaeological excavation conducted by the Western Investigations Team (Museums of Western Colorado) of a site, known as the Redoubt Site, which included bits of Spanish Armor and other Spanish Colonial memorabilia found near a small fortification, a few years back south of Grand Junction, Colorado,” explained David Bailey, curator of history at Museums of Western Colorado, in an email to Fox News. “After analyzing the material, we discovered there was a dog and a trigger guard [that] were from a very early Spanish pistol known as a wheellock.”


The pistols, which could be almost two-feet long, first emerged in Europe around 1500.

Metallurgic tests indicate that the pistol parts found near Grand Junction are from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, making the discovery particularly unusual. “The importance of the find is the material is usually found in Texas or New Mexico and not this far north in western Colorado,” Bailey added.

The historian explained that the dog tightened two clamps that held flint or pyrite in place to ignite the pistol’s powder.

“There are many theories of how the material got this far north, perhaps the remnants of a Spanish Exploration party or material that was traded to The Ute Indian that lived in this area,” he said. “Many mysteries still remain about this site and we are still working to find additional evidence of why Spanish Colonial artifacts would be found so far north and from such an early period.”


The pistol parts are the latest archaeological find to provide a glimpse into America’s Spanish colonial history.

In 2016, archaeologists discovered stones beneath San Antonio’s Alamo Plaza that could be associated with the main gate of the 18th century Mision San Antonio de Valero, as the Alamo Mission was originally known.

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