Yes, one of the things I love about these finds is the history behind them.
The were found in Big Bend National Park (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/) at a place called Muskhog Spring. It’s a small waterhole in a small canyon, which was the site of a ranch owned by the Rice family in the 1930’s.
The area has a history of human occupation going back 15,000 years, and was a major Indian site. It was settled by Anglo-Americans starting in the mid-1800’s. The U.S. Army cavalry patrolled the area to keep the settlers safe, and there were several skirmishes with the Indians in the area. It was sparsely settled by ranchers and miners through 1940, when the Park Service bought the land. The Park Service then bulldozed all the current homes because they weren’t “historic”, and the idea was to return the land to its native state. So all that remains of the history of the settlers is a lot of debris, like these cartridge casings. So they give interesting clues as to the type of firearms that were owned by those settlers.
The water holes, like this one, were few and far between, so they were vitally important. The Indians traveled from water hole to water hole, and so did the settlers. Thus, these places were sources of conflict between the two, when they happened to show up at the same time.
Of course, these cartridges were not necessarily fired in conflict, but could have just been from the ranch workers doing target practice, or hunting varmints.
This concludes my brief history lesson from Big Bend.
I’ve spent a total of about two months in this park over the last seven years, and it’s an amazing place. I try to get there at least once a year, for a full week.