Experts List the Most-Wanted Time Capsules

Oglethorpe University’s list of the most-wanted time capsules is compiled by selections made by members of the International Time Capsule Society in 1991. To date, only three of the ten on the list has been found.

The remaining are:

Bicentennial Wagon Train Time Capsule
This capsule was supposed to hold the signatures of 22 million Americans. But on July 4, 1976, when President Gerald Ford arrived for the sealing ceremony in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, someone stole the capsule from an unattended van in the bicentennial wagon train. The capsule’s maker, the Reynolds Company, had broken the mold. The thief’s identity and the whereabouts of the capsule are unsolved mysteries.

MIT Cyclotron Time Capsule
In 1939 a group of MIT engineers placed a brass capsule beneath an 18-ton -magnet used in a brand new, state-of-the-art cyclotron. The capsule was to be opened in 50 years but was not. No one remembered the time capsule was there (the cyclotron had long since been deactivated). But when reminded of its existence, MIT was faced with another problem: how do you get a time capsule out from under a 36,000-pound lid?

Corona, California, Time Capsules
The City of Corona seems to have misplaced a series of 17 time capsules dating back to the 1930s. Efforts to recover the capsules in 1986 were in vain. “We just tore up a lot of concrete around the civic center, “said the chairman of the town’s centennial committee. A Los Angeles Times reporter has called Corona “the individual record holder in the fumbled time capsule category.”

The M*A*S*H Time Capsule
Buried by cast members of the hit TV show in a secret ceremony, the capsule contained props and costumes of the show. It was buried in January 1983 — somewhere, no one will say — in the 20th Century Fox parking lot in Hollywood. The lot has shrunk in size, so the time capsule may be under a Marriott Hotel now.  Update:  According to CNN, Alan Alda recounts in his book, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, that the M*A*S*H time capsule was found by a construction worker shortly after the show ended.  When the worker tried to return the capsule to Alda and the rest of the M*A*S*H cast, Alda told him to keep it.

George Washington’s Cornerstone
Today’s custom of burying time capsules is in part an outgrowth of Masonic cornerstone-laying ceremonies. Through the centuries, Masons have officiated at rituals which often include placing memorabilia inside building cornerstones for later recovery. In 1793, George Washington, a Mason, performed the Masonic ritual upon the laying of the original cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol. Over the years, the Capitol has undergone extensive expansion, remodeling and reconstruction, but the original George Washington cornerstone has never been found. It is unknown whether there is anything inside of it.

Blackpool Tower
In Blackpool, Lancashire, England, a foundation deposit was interred in the late 19th century with the customary ceremony. When a search was organized recently in preparation for new building work, not even remote sensing equipment or a clairvoyant could locate the time capsule.

The Lyndon, Vermont, Time Capsule
First mentioned in an 1891 Vermont newspaper, the capsule is an iron box containing proceedings of the town’s centennial celebration. It was scheduled to be opened on July 4, 1991. Citizens have looked in the town vault, the bank and the library but have not found the box. The time capsule may not have been buried at all, since some ceremonies were canceled due to rain.

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