Crews working at the site of what was the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, made a historic discovery late Monday morning.
They found a time capsule buried in 1887. This news comes after there was a false alarm regarding the time capsule last week.
“This isn’t an everyday occurrence,” said Julie Langan, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The 36-pound copper box — which measures 13.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches — was found by construction workers at the site, she said.
Devon Henry, the contractor whose company was overseeing the removal, told the Associated Press that the box was found inside a granite enclosure basically at ground level, surrounded by fill and other construction material. Workers pulled off the top of the granite enclosure to find the box sitting in water, Henry said.
The box was then covered in bubble wrap and transported by vehicle from the site for further study, he said.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said in a news release that the box had been X-rayed, and images appear to show that it might contain books, coins, buttons and perhaps a type of Civil War-era ammunition.
There have been references to explosive materials in there, so before they open it, they’re having the Richmond’s bomb squad check it out.
The process of opening the capsule will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a statement from Northam.
Dale Brumfield — a historian, journalist and author in central Virginia — happened to be in the area when it was discovered.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, he found the capsule,'” Brumfield said.
Brumfield was excited by a recent discovery that, when opened last week, turned out to be a false alarm of sorts.
“They found a lead box, 20 feet up high in the pedestal, and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe this is the time capsule.'” But instead, Brumfield said, it was a personal project for those who constructed the monument.
“Today is the real deal,” the historian added.
So what could be in it?
According to Brumfield, 60 items could be inside.
“Most of them are Confederate paraphernalia. There are some bullets, musket balls, some paper products,” Brumfield said.
What’s he looking forward to possibly being in there?
“A picture of Lincoln lying in his coffin. I’m really anxious to see what that turns out to be,” said Brumfield.
Langan, who works at the state’s Department of Historic Resources, is excited about what the box could teach us about that time period.
“Time capsules are really meant to be found by people who wouldn’t go to the trouble of collecting items and putting them somewhere if they weren’t hoping that someday they would be discovered,” she said.
The Northam administration originally planned to leave the pedestal of the statue in place but announced earlier this month that it would removed and the traffic circle where it had stood will be transferred to the city of Richmond. The pedestal will be stored until “next steps” have been determined, The Associated Press reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.