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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 00:48 GMT
Time capsule reveals secrets
Objects from the time capsule
Most of the objects were in pristine condition
By Katty Kay in Washington

Over 100 letters, including a letter written by Theodore Roosevelt before he became president, were recovered on Monday from a time capsule sealed in 1901.


I hope that a century hence their descendants ... will not lose the iron strength these pioneers and sons of pioneers had

Theodore Roosevelt
About 300 people gathered at Colorado College's Tutt Library to witness the opening of the Colorado Springs Century Chest.

The chest also contained pristine turn-of-the-century photographs, personal calling cards, newspapers and cylinder-shaped phonograph records.

The items were sealed in a 200-pound, footlocker-sized steel box, which was sealed in an elaborate ceremony at the college on 4 August 1901.

It was labelled "To be opened after midnight, December 31st AD 2000'' and was displayed in the college's science building.

Letters from the past

Most of the letters were from city residents and were addressed to their descendants.

Robert Gauss came from Ramona, California, to see what his great-great-grandfather, a stockbroker, had put inside: a family tree dating to Brunswick, Germany, in 1777.

"We have an extensive database at home, but it's not complete. There are some holes,'' he said. "If it's what I think it is, those questions will be answered.''

Moment in time

The contents of the capsule depict a town just 30 years old, inundated with newcomers after gold was discovered in 1891 near Cripple Creek.

The time capsule is opened
After one hundred years hidden, the capsule is opened
El Paso County's population grew by nearly 50% to 31,602 between 1890 and 1900. It is now about 500,000.

Some of the capsule's letters were yellowing, but most were in excellent condition, wrapped in string and sealed with wax.

The then Vice-President Roosevelt was a frequent visitor to the region and wrote his letter a few weeks before he became president, following the assassination of William McKinley.

"I hope that a century hence their descendants ... will not lose the iron strength these pioneers and sons of pioneers had,'' he wrote.

Saved for posterity

Ginny Kiefer, the library's special collections curator, said not all the letters would be opened immediately, in order to protect their condition.

The letters and photos will eventually be scanned into digital form and placed on the college's Century Chest Web site.

In March, city officials plan to replace the original items with letters, photographs and other memorabilia from the present.

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See also:

07 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Pupils bury 'peace capsule'
04 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Blue Peter digs up the past
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