194-Year-Old Time Capsule Reveal Ends in Historic Flop



On Monday, August 28, the USA Army Academy West Level campus hosted a much-anticipated unboxing occasion for a roughly 194-year-old time capsule that was found within the base of a monument earlier this yr. The reveal was live-streamed on YouTube and attended by school members, cadets, and alumni from the academy in addition to archaeologists, army historians, and staffers on the West Level Museum, all gathered in anticipation of uncovering historic artifacts.

So, what was contained in the field? Effectively, not a lot past some shards of dried-up silt.

The meager findings seemingly dissatisfied the cadets who, in accordance with Academy Dean Shane Reeves, had speculated that the time capsule contained alum and former President Ulysses S. Grant’s beard trimmers, maps of the campus steam tunnels, and by some means, a thumb drive with misplaced Bitcoins on it.

Earlier than the field was pried open, West Level Dean Shane Reeves marveled on the time capsule that was left untouched for 194 years. Nonetheless, he admitted that the field might very seemingly include “nothing,” throwing in a reference to the 1986 televised broadcast of journalist Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s hidden vault in Chicago, which revealed solely a cease signal and a few empty bottles inside. 

The leaden container in query was recovered in Could of this yr from the bottom of a campus monument honoring Polish Common Tadeusz Kościuszko, who helped to strengthen West Level’s unique army fort throughout the American Revolutionary Struggle earlier than the academy was based in 1802.

Kościuszko Monument, U.S. Army Academy, West Level, New York (U.S. Military photograph by Elizabeth Woodruff/USMA Public Affairs Workplace through Flickr)

Designed by West Level graduate John H. B. Latrobe and unveiled in 1828, the monument started present process restoration efforts in 2021 after structural cracks had been found alongside the unique column and base. The bronze statue of Kosciuszko was solely put in atop the columnar monument in 1913, and had already been saved away when building supervisor Chris Branson unearthed the one-cubic-foot field from the marble base. West Level’s Division of Physics and Nuclear Engineering had taken X-rays of the field, however the outcomes had been inconclusive.

West Level officers dated the container, now deemed a time capsule, to the year 1828, however the Associated Press notes that the monument could not have been accomplished till 1829 based mostly on written correspondence from West Level then-cadet Robert E. Lee, who later grew to become the commander of the Accomplice States Military throughout the Civil Struggle. Paradoxically sufficient, a 130-year-old time capsule was recovered from the base of a Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Virginia, in 2021 after the namesake statue was eliminated in gentle of the riots sparked by the homicide of George Floyd. Quite than dried silt, that capsule as an alternative yielded some moist books and a coin.

“Whereas the matter contained in the field is inconclusive at this level, opening the field has given us additional results in analysis the historical past and that means of this Revolutionary hero and his monument that stood trying over the Academy and the Hudson River for 194 years,” US Army Academy Command Historian Jennifer Voigtschild wrote in an announcement to Hyperallergic. “With the approaching 250th anniversary of the American Revolution and the nation, the US Army Academy is trying ahead to future alternatives to analysis, mark the spots, replicate, and be impressed by our early historical past and its legacy.”

West Level intends to rekindle the custom with a brand new time capsule for the marble base as soon as the monument is totally restored. Perhaps that one cadet’s Bitcoin thought wasn’t so dangerous in spite of everything. 


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