The world's seventh "most wanted" time capsule was within five minutes of being loaded on a trash truck when a quick-thinking maintenance worker rescued it from being lost forever.
Washington State Archivist Jerry Handfield said the capsule was one of two created for the state's 1953 Centennial celebration -- but it arrived late. "They buried one and decided to bury this on another day," Handfield said.
Seven years later, the commissioner of lands penned a letter to the governor and expressed concerns that the capsule would be forgotten about. "That was the last correspondence about it," Handfield said. The International Time Capsule Society subsequently declared the tube lost and listed it as the "seventh most wanted."
The nondescript wooden crate that contained the time capsule had been gathering dust for years in a Capitol storage room. David Boyer, a coordinator for the Department of General Administration, found the time capsule in 2002 while preparing the Capitol for repairs.
The side marked "time capsule" had been turned toward the storage room wall. On the side facing outward, "It said Do Not Drop," Boyer explained. "We said OK." And there it sat. But as workers were preparing a load to take to the dump, Boyer noticed the previously hidden label and said, "Wait a minute."
Historians believe the lead tube contains letters addressed to future Washingtonians, items from the 1953 Legislature and newspapers. Last week, in a ceremony led by Secretary of State Sam Reed, the time capsule was buried with its partner below the Capitol steps.
"This valuable piece of Washington state history will now be preserved, as intended, for future Washingtonians," Reed said. "Thanks to the hard work of the Washington State Archives and General Administration, we are fulfilling our obligation to the people who will live in this state 50 years from now."