Tippecanoe County residents got a glimpse into the past Thursday as members of the historical association and Lafayette Fire Department worked together to open a time capsule.
The time capsule was found cemented to the bottom of a boulder that has served as a memorial for the Spanish-American War since 1931. Construction workers were moving the boulder during renovations on other areas of the park.
Andrew Cordell was one of the workers there when they found the box.
“It was kind of a neat thing,” Cordell says. “I mean, you don’t get to see a time capsule every day.”
Park Superintendent Claudine Laufman says the capsule caught everyone by surprise initially. But she’s been working there for thirty years, and remembered some conversations about a hidden time capsule back when she first started.
“The memories had flooded back, and I recall that no one was able to say where it was or what the contents were in the container of the time capsule.”
City officials arranged an opening ceremony for the public – with help from Lafayette firefighters, who sawed open the metal box.
Members of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association then stepped forward to look inside. The capsule contained newspapers, molded and discolored from water damage.
Executive Director Craig Hadley says their research hasn’t yielded any information on where the capsule came from.
“We could find no mention of the time capsule,” he says. “So it could have nothing to do with the memorial; it could be something else altogether.”
The newspapers were published in the month of January, but the year is still unknown.
Mayor Tony Roswarski also attended the ceremony. He says he was happy to see so many local residents interested in what the time capsule contained.
“Those kind of things are always fun and important, because it is part of our community, it’s part of our community’s history,” he says. “So we’re glad we had a good turnout today, we’ll just have to see what the historical folks can turn up for us.”
Roswarski says some officials have even expressed interest in doing another time capsule for someone else to find in the future.
“It’d be nice if we probably did some things like that for somebody else to find later on too, right, to do those kinds of things,” he says. “Because I think people in general, they do want to know about their community, they do want to know about their history.”
Hadley says for anyone interested in making a time capsule of their own, there’s an easy way to make sure the contents remain intact.
“One of the tried and tested old things would be, we were just joking about it, it’s been around since the 19th century, is a good old-fashioned Mason jar with a zinc screw-on top.”
Hadley says the association will try to restore the papers, a process that could take anywhere from an hour to a few days. After that, the city of Lafayette will find them a more permanent home.