Above is a 1981 photo of a cornerstone amid the rubble of the old brick high school on Breeze Street. The photo shows the time capsule slot.

museum of northwest colorado/photo courtesy

Above is a 1981 photo of a cornerstone amid the rubble of the old brick high school on Breeze Street. The photo shows the time capsule slot.

Time capsules give glimpse into past

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— In the study of any civilization's history, one of the most enjoyable and edifying activities is seeing and touching remnants of everyday life in times past.

On July 4, 2008, Craig's residents will be able to connect physically with her residents who helped make the town what it is today.

The concept of a time capsule isn't new, and there are thousands buried across America and the world, but in Craig's relatively brief history, there have been several.

The first time capsule assembled in Craig was installed in the cornerstone of Breeze Street School in 1916.

Businesspeople and community members were encouraged to bring their business or personal calling cards and letterheads for inclusion in the capsule. Several coins and other small bits of memorabilia also were interred.

When the school was torn down in 1981, the 5-by-7-inch metal capsule was opened on the site.

The stone was taken to the bus garage for storage and the contents were kept at the school administration building on North Yampa Avenue. Today, the contents of that capsule and the stone rest at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

Those contents show not just the official, powerful part of the Craig community in the early 20th century, but gifts from working people, as well.

During Craig's 50th anniversary celebration, members of the community were encouraged to place items from service groups, churches and businesses into the steel tube.

"A Time Capsule to tell the story of Craig in 1958 for the next generation was prepared at the Court House lawn Sunday afternoon as part of the Jubilee program : the capsule is to be opened at the time of Craig's Centennial observance of 2008 A.D." (Craig Empire-Courier July 24, 1958)

No doubt the people who dropped their contributions into the steel tube were thinking that 50 years was a long time - and it is for people, but not for history. In all, 16 service groups, nine churches, four youth organizations and several other social clubs placed materials in the capsule. Documents from Craig Memorial Hospital and the Craig Public Library joined the Chamber of Commerce and the Craig Empire-Courier newspaper.

After the contents of the capsule were deemed complete, it was welded shut, encased in cement and buried in the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn.

"The capsule itself has been made virtually indestructible. Bob Hawkins contributed the steel tube which is welded to seal out all moisture. The inner capsule was made of material furnished by Merel Rogers. Joe Miller welded the steel tube." (ibid)

In accordance with the wishes of the City Fathers of half a century ago, the Centennial (or Jubilee) capsule will be opened on July 4 at Craig City Hall.

When City Hall was dedicated 25 years ago, another time capsule was placed near the entrance to the building. In that capsule were placed sealed envelopes from the City of Craig and the Craig Police Department, among others.

Most of the artifacts that were presented for enclosure promoted Craig, Moffat County and Northwest Colorado.

Several newspaper articles about Craig's growth and development were included as well as photographs and souvenirs from various events. In addition, at least one tongue-in-cheek contribution was included with the official documents.

Both of Craig's time capsules will be opened at noon July 4 at City Hall. The artifacts will be available for viewing even as this year's Centennial Committee decides what to include in the Centennial capsule when it is resealed at the end of July.

Time capsules offer us a microscopic view into everyday life of times gone by.

We are fortunate that quite a few of the people who witnessed the sealing of the Centennial capsule still are alive today to share details about the tantalizing things we will find when the welds are cut and Craig's treasures see the light of day for the first time in half a century.

Shannan Koucherik may be reached at honeyrockdogs@msn.com.

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