This Week in Time Capsules: The 100-Year Akron Mayor Capsule Hoax

This week in our time capsule news round-up we have a Navy capsule with some awesome tech history, some disappointed uncapsulers in Tacoma, and a time capsule hoax 100 years in the making.

The 100-year time capsule hoax

In 1914, the mayor of Akron, Ohio wrote a letter to whomever might be mayor of that fair city in the year 2014. Or did he?

According to the January 26, 1914 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, word spread quickly about then-Mayor Rockwell's supposed 1914 letter. News of the time capsule letter got picked up all over the country. I happened to find out about it in the January 25, 1914 Anaconda Standard in Montana while searching newspaper archives.

I reached out to the current mayor's office to see if any more information was available. Turns out, it was part of a bizarre hoax. In fact, in the wake of the century-old reports, Rockwell claimed he never wrote a time capsule letter. And while the story spread far and wide, it seems the correction never got posted anywhere outside of Akron.

But there's one question that still remains: Why would someone make up such a specific story like that if it wasn't true?

Navy capsule in California filled with military history

Mare Island Museum volunteers and shipyard workers in California opened a Navy time capsule from 1955 this past week. The capsule contained tons of fascinating photographs, including one of the Mare Island "pigeon cove" which apparently housed the Navy's carrier pigeons in 1914. The capsule also had a vast array of tech from the time, with bundles of wire from old submarines, a motor, and some radio equipment. [Times-Herald]

Premature uncapsulation in Tacoma

Cornerstone time capsules are traditionally left intact until the building is torn down. But apparently they do things a little differently in Tacoma, Washington. This week that city cracked open the cornerstone of the Tacoma Dome to pull out a stainless steel box placed there in October of 1982.

The capsule contained some pins, a few photographs, and a videotape of a newscast about the Dome. Humorously, the local news bemoaned the lack of brick-sized cellphones and Twinkies, calling the capsule's contents "a collection that seemed designed to disappoint."

Little did they realize that a videotape is damn near riveting on the time capsule interestingness continuum. Anything more than a couple of coins and an old newspaper is considered a big win. But maybe disappointment is a fair punishment for being impatient. There really are no rules for time capsules, but cracking open a cornerstone when a building is still standing definitely feels wrong. [The News Tribune]


Image: January 26, 1914 Akron Beacon Journal article courtesy of the Akron mayor's office