Lost in Time, by Harper’s Staff

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From a list of the “ten most wanted time capsules,” issued by the International Time Capsule Society. ITCS, which is based at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, was created “to encourage study of the history, variety I and motivation behind time capsule projects.” According to ITCS, many time capsules are “lost” due to thievery or poor planning; it requests that anyone with information about missing capsules contact the society.

1. Bicentennial Wagon Train Time Capsule. This capsule, which holds the signatures of 22 million Americans, was stolen from an unattended van on July 4, 1976, before the capsule could be sealed at a special ceremony presided over by President Gerald Ford at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

2. Corona, California, Time Capsules. The city of Corona has misplaced seventeen time capsules over the last fifty years. City officials tried to find the capsules during the 1986 centennial but “just tore up a lot of concrete around the civic center,” according to Corona’s centennial committee chairman.

3. The Gramophone Company Time Capsule. In 1907 opera singer Nellie Melba buried her original sound recordings behind the foundation stone of the new Gramophone Company record factory in Hayes, England. The container was officially removed during remodeling in the 1960s but was stolen before it could be reburied. The whereabouts of these priceless master-pressings remain a mystery.

4. The M*A*S*H Capsule. This capsule, which contained props and costumes from the show, was buried in 1983 by cast members during a secret ceremony in the Twentieth Century Fox parking lot in Hollywood. A Marriott Hotel now stands on the site.

5. The Lyndon, Vermont, Time Capsule. This capsule, an iron box containing proceedings of the town’s centennial celebration, was mentioned in an 1891 Vermont newspaper article and was set to be opened by Lyndon residents on July 4, 1991. However, after searching the town vault, bank, and library, residents could not find it. The capsule may not have been buried at all; at the time, some ceremonies were canceled because of rain.


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