The 10 Most Interesting Cases Of Lost Or Forgotten Time Capsules
Confused businessman can not find the lightbulb idea. Photo: siraanamwong (Getty).
Time capsules are a lot like a $20 bill you throw in your back pocket: if you forget about it until you do a load of laundry, you are in for a pleasant surprise. However, if you merely think you put it in your pocket, the disappointment you feel when it isn’t there can’t be measured. Such is the case with the following list of lost or forgotten time capsules, as they were either buried and never found, or discovered without the recollection of being buried in the first place.
The Most Interesting Lost Or Forgotten Time Capsules
Lost: City of Corona Time Capsules
We’ll start with a very famous lost capsule case out of Corona, California in the mid-1980s. Listed as one of the “9 Most Wanted Time Capsules” by the International Time Capsule Society (ITCS), the city planned to open a series of 17 capsules for a Labor Day celebration that were buried by former Corona High School students dating as far back as the 1930s. However, upon excavation, it was discovered that the capsules were, well, undiscoverable. Or at least they weren’t buried where everyone thought they were. It is assumed the capsules were either lost when the school relocated and became the site of the Corona Civic Center, or former students simply forgot where they were buried. Recent attempts to find the capsules using radar technology have also come up empty, so we may never know the treasures they hold.
Forgotten: M*A*S*H Time Capsule
Speaking of Radar, fans of the long-running war dramedy M*A*S*H might be happy to hear that in January 1983, around the time the series was coming to a close, cast members secretly gathered memorabilia from the show and buried it somewhere in the 20th Century Fox parking lot in Los Angeles. Incidentally, the penultimate episode revolved around the very same concept, and was technically the last episode shot. Sadly, once the series ended, the piece of land the capsule was buried under was sold. When a construction worker found the buried capsule, he contacted actor Alan Alda, who’d assumed the capsule would be underground for 100 years or more. Somewhat disappointed, Alda told the worker to simply keep it, a fact which wasn’t revealed until Alda’s book, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned, was published in September 2005. Prior to this, it had remained a mystery, as well as another of the ITCS’s “Most Wanted.”
Lost (& nearly forgotten): Steve Jobs Time Capsule
During the International Design Conference held in Aspen, Colorado in 1983, which was themed “The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be,” Apple founder Steve Jobs gave a riveting speech in which he predicted such technological achievements as the iPad and wireless networking. Afterwards, he contributed his Apple Lisa mouse to a time capsule which was not to be unearthed until the year 2000. Among the thousands of other items inside included a Rubik’s cube, a Moody Blues eight-track, and a six pack of beer for whoever dug it up in the future. Alas, 2000 rolled around and the capsule was never unearthed, rarely even mentioned until a 2012 blog article by Marcel Brown brought it back to light. Apparently, the capsule had indeed been lost since 2000, with landscaping by new owners having attributed to the capsule’s shift in location. In 2013, the lost capsule was finally discovered by National Geographic’s “Diggers” TV series. And yes, the beer was still intact.
Forgotten: MIT Cyclotron Time Capsule
What is it with geniuses and misplacing their time capsules? Word to the wise (and hyperintelligent dogs, we suppose): if you’re going to bury something you intend to dig up later, don’t place a 36,000-pound magnet on top of it. Sure, it’s a great site marker, but it might be a bit impossible to move. This is a lesson Massachusetts Institute of Technology students learned the hard way in 1939 after building a cyclotron particle accelerator on top of a time capsule they planned to unearth 50 years later. To their credit, this wasn’t exactly intentional. They simply forgot they put the capsule there until it was too late. While the cyclotron was deactivated years ago, the 18-ton magnet still remains immovable. And sadly, so does the time capsule underneath.
Lost: Franklin High School Time Capsules
Anyone who’s ever declared that school is a big waste of time might actually be onto something when it comes to Franklin, Massachusetts. Well, when it comes to burying time capsules, at least. Much like the case in Corona, five different time capsules from the classes of 1977, 1979, 1983, 1984, and 2000 have gone missing outside of Franklin High School due to construction of a new school in its place. The big difference here is that administrators don’t really seem to care, with Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski stating back in June that they have no plans to comb through the rubble. She even encouraged alumni to do it themselves if they felt so inclined. This has former members of said classes rightly miffed, with many stating the school clearly doesn’t care about history. In the end, a one day “last-ditch effort” was approved by Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, but to no avail. We smell a future ITCS “Most Wanted” hall of famer.
Forgotten: Old State House Lion Time Capsule
Back in September, it was discovered that the majestic lion atop Boston’s Old State House was put there for more than just decoration. As it turns out, it had been housing a long forgotten time capsule under its crown for 113 years. The problem? Similar to MIT, it was difficult to get to without damaging the historic statue around it. But low and behold, within a month, the Bostonian Society was able to remove the brass box inside the lion’s head, which was said to contain such items as presidential campaign buttons for Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley, photographs, and letters from previous Boston politicians. Since then, the lion has been restored to its position atop the Old State house, complete with a new time capsule for future generations. Let’s hope they do a better job remembering it’s there than we did.
Lost: Bicentennial Wagon Train Time Capsule
The Bicentennial Wagon Train time capsule case is not only the ITCS’s number one “Most Wanted” time capsule of all time, but also the ultimate case of having the rug pulled out from under Americans everywhere. In 1976, 50 horse-drawn wagons traveled from the West Coast to Valley Forge in celebration of 200 years of American independence, collecting the signatures of 22 million citizens on special commemorative scrolls along the way. The ultimate goal was to place the scrolls (including that of President Gerald Ford) in a time capsule when they arrived at their destination on July 4th. Sadly, while sitting in an unattended van during the bicentennial celebration, the scrolls were stolen, never reaching their final destination. To this day, the thief or thieves have never been identified, nor the scrolls recovered.
Forgotten: Washington Monument Time Capsule
On occasion, discovering a time capsule comes with as much potential risk as reward. Such was the case with a small copper box found behind a Defender’s Day centennial plaque in the Washington Monument this past October. The box, a time capsule dating back to September 12, 1915, is said to contain commemorative programs and copies of The Baltimore Sun, among other historic items. The problem lies with the fact that the box was discovered due to interior plaster finish restoration being done to the monument due to water damage. That being the case, it is feared the time capsule has sustained substantial damage, as well. Currently, the restoration committee remains apprehensive to open it.
Lost: Village of Cygnet Time Capsule
Ahh, Cygnet, Ohio – a village rich with history; if only they could find it. We figured we’d kick things up a notch by jumping into a current mystery time capsule case that both A) hasn’t been solved yet as far as we’ve been able to gather, and B) our readers may be able to shed some light on. Cygnet celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014, but as of two days before the big August 9th ceremony, the town was unable to find the 75th anniversary time capsule they’d hoped to open during the festivities. Mayor Nancy Myers has even gone as far as removing the village’s water tower to locate the capsule, with no such luck. Any information may be useful and should be reported to the village’s mayor or council members. Just don’t be a Vaun Wickerham. That’s not helping anyone.
Forgotten: Betty Klug Time Capsule
Since Mandatory is known for our heartwarming human interest pieces first and foremost, it’s probably best to end our list on an uplifting note. In a case that could only be described as bittersweet, contractor John Murry stumbled upon a time capsule back in April while restoring a four-bedroom home in North Phoenix. The capsule was left there by the late Betty Klug, and contained family photos and a handwritten letter detailing the world she was living in at the time. The letter was dated September 27, 1966, which also happened to be the birthday of her widowed husband, Bruce, who was more surprised than anyone to see the contents of the capsule. Sadly, Betty was killed in a car crash ten years after leaving the capsule. But her memory now lives on through the final gift she left behind, and illustrates just how much impact a time capsule can truly have on the future.