Time Capsule From 1829 Opened at West Point, Historic Artifacts Found Inside
A time capsule that was buried in 1829 was recently discovered and opened for the first time, nearly 200 years later.
The hidden piece of history was found at the United States Military Academy in New York, better known as West Point. A team of historians and archaeologists at the academy had the incredible honor of opening the relic as a room full of people and a camera crew eagerly awaited the big unveiling.
A Highly-Anticipated Ceremonial Event
Opening the time capsule was a big event for everyone at West Point. There was a ceremony to mark the milestone moment and cadets were able to get an up-close look at the time capsule by peering inside of it.
The box-shaped artifact measured approximately one-square-foot tall and was equally as wide. There was so much interest in determining what was buried in 1829 that the big unveiling was even live-streamed on West Point’s website.
Finding the Capsule Buried on West Point’s Campus
The incredible find was discovered on West Point’s campus at the base of a monument dedicated to Polish General Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Historically, the general has been credited with helping the American colonies gain their independence from the British.
The time capsule piqued the interest of many people at West Point, including historian Rory McGovern and cadet Ty Lorcharoensery who curiously looked inside the box for a look into the past.
Archaeologists, Historians, and West Point Cadets All Peak Inside
Everyone who attended the ceremony was given an opportunity to personally come up to the podium and inspect the time capsule.
Spectators were fascinated by the rare discovery that dated back nearly two centuries. Archaeologist Paul Hudson was photographed shining a flashlight into a square hole located at the top of the time capsule, while Museum Curator Michael Diaz took a look inside.
The Grand Unveiling Finally Arrives
After all of the excitement and anticipation, the moment had finally come for the historic time capsule to be opened.
To everyone’s surprise and disappointment, the square box from 1829 didn’t appear to hold anything of value. Just some fragments of silt sat at the bottom of the time capsule, leaving onlookers to wonder what the purpose was for burying a near-empty box.
The Contents Were A Bit Underwhelming
But silt wasn’t the only thing inside the centuries-old time capsule. Archaeologists also unearthed a vintage stamp that read “EW Bank, NY” on the lid of the artifact.
While the opening ceremony seemed lackluster to say the least, the real treasure from centuries ago was discovered shortly after the publicized event when Hudson took the capsule back to his lab for further inspection.
Until An Archaeologist Took a Closer Look
It was then that he made an unexpected discovery. As he meticulously sifted through the silt and debris from inside the box, Hudson noticed the edge of a coin sticking out.
From there, the archaeologist used his wooden pick and brush to reveal even more coins from hundreds of years ago. Acknowledging how nice it would have been to find the ancient coins in front of an audience, Hudson said, “When I first found these, I thought, man, you know, it would have been great to have found these on stage.”
Uncovering Currency From Past Centuries
As Hudson sifted through the material even more, he realized that the time capsule held six silver coins dating as far back as 1795.
In total, the box contained a five-cent coin from 1795, a dollar coin from 1800, a 25-cent coin from 1818, a 10-cent coin and one-cent coin from 1827, and a 50-cent coin from 1828. Hudson also found an Erie Canal commemorative medal from 1826.
The Collection Could Be Worth Thousands Today
While the coins were worth mere cents in 1829, they have significantly appreciated in value over the past two centuries.
These days, they could be worth between a few hundred dollars up to $1,000 or more depending on the condition. The dates on the coins also confirm a popular theory by West Point’s officials about the origins of the time capsule.
Confirming Exactly When the Box Was Buried
It is widely believed that the box was buried at the base of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko monument in 1828 or 1829 when it was officially erected on West Point’s campus.
Hudson was optimistic about his findings and what they mean to American history. “I think there’s more that we can learn from this,” he said. “To learn about the academy’s history and about the country’s history.”
The Contents Prompt Even More Questions
While it’s great that researchers were able to understand how long ago the time capsule was buried, many people are still trying to make sense of the purpose of the box.
“It is a little perplexing again that we have this enormous box even with the coins in it,” said Hudson, before adding, “It answers one question for us, which is when was this put in, but it also raises a lot of other ones.”
The Treasure Will Become Part of West Point’s Rich History
While the precise meaning of the time capsule remains a mystery, Hudson has a pretty solid theory. He believes that the collection of coins is simply “representative of what was important to them at that time.”
There is still plenty of more research to be done, but it’s safe to assume that the historical artifacts will eventually be put on display at the West Point Museum.