OGDEN — Twenty-first century Utahans got their first look at items inside a time capsule buried by their forebearers in 1887.
The time capsule was found in the cornerstone of the Central Junior High building in Ogden after Ogden School District decided to demolish it in 1959. It was placed there when the building was built in 1887.
Housed in a metal box, the capsule was opened Wednesday at the Utah State Archives in Salt Lake City. While the time capsule had been briefly opened when it was found to determine what it was, this was the first time it was publicly opened and the items carefully examined.
Plans are under discussion at the state archives to bring the time capsule up to Ogden for a local event, said Alan Barnett, local government archivist with the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service.
“There was a handful of small items that were not listed on the ... inventory, including things like a hair pin, a button and a stick of gum,” said Jer Bates, communications director with Ogden School District. “... Obviously the adults in charge had done some things to document the event and preserve that date in history with things like newspaper prints and photos and things like that.
“But that was really interesting to me to see what was added presumably by kids who were present and wanted to ... be a part of including something, so whatever they had ... on their person, that’s what presumably ended up in the time capsule,” he said.
The small rectangular piece of gum, wrapped in paper that’s now brown in color, still has a readable label: Colgan’s Taffy Tolu Chewing Gum.
There were several newspapers in the time capsule, including the Ogden Morning Herald, The Salt Lake Daily Tribune, Deseret Evening News, Ogden Optic, Salt Lake Enterprise and Salt Lake Herald.
In a presentation before the opening of the capsule, Barnett also shared a short clipping of a newspaper article that covered the placing of the time capsule, printed in the Ogden Herald on Sep. 29, 1887.
There were also various business cards from Ogden businesses, an autograph album, a Bible and list of men who worked on the building, among other items.
Even more interesting than the time capsule, Bates said, was the history of the building, which was discussed in the presentation.
Bates said that the time capsule was also a reminder that creating time capsules is something that people did in the past.
“It’s a little bit melancholy to think ‘Why don’t we do something like that ... and continue that practice?’” Bates said. “I can say that for me personally, where we’ve got some construction ... projects happening now and some others planned for the near future, it certainly makes me think, ‘Why don’t we include something like that in these upcoming projects?’”