1972 time capsule unfortunately filled with water

JACKSON, Tenn. — The 1972 time capsule was dug up on Wednesday, but it has had a rough time.

Getting the time capsule, which was buried on Oct. 13 of 1972 in what is now Muse Park, turned out to be a difficult task.

One obstacle was not knowing what was actually in the ground.

“Other than placing a marker on top of it, we had no knowledge of what was actually buried there. There was no official record that was passed down or archived for us to know what we were doing,” said Trey Cleek, who is on the Bicentennial Board of Directors.

The Bicentennial Commission says the original plan was to open the capsule the same day it was unearthed.

However, the capsule turned out be much larger than anyone expected, weighing an estimated 6,500 pounds.

“They brought the real Tonka toys out yesterday and managed to get that 6,500 pound vault up out of the ground for us,” Cleek said.

Once the concrete capsule was removed, thanks to bigger machinery being brought in, it was placed on a trailer that later broke due to the weight.

The next day, suspecting water damage, a hole was drilled into the bottom of the capsule, releasing around 200 gallons of water.

“Upon opening the time capsule, we discovered that the time capsule had become compromised. Water was allowed to get into the time capsule. There’s no way, until we have an analysis done, to know how long it has been broke,” Cleek said.

The top was finally removed at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, showing that several of the items were damaged by the water and mildew.

“It is essentially a pile of wet paper that’s been sitting in a vault for very long time,” Cleek said.

The commission says they are going to let the contents dry out and continue the inspection on Friday. A group of archivists will be working to identify and preserve what was found.

Their release on Thursday says in part:

“Our time capsule committee has worked on this for more than a year and a half and we share in your
disappointment. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we figure out next steps.”

Cleek says there are positives from the experience. He says this is great learning experience for their own time capsule.

“We are learning just as much from opening this time capsule as we could from any other experience that we could have had in designing and burying our time capsule,” he said.

Cleek says this year’s time capsule will go into the ground on August 13.

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