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Time capsule from 1974 erodes before unearthing ceremony in Rockdale

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jul 04, 2024

ROCKDALE, Texas (KRHD) — The City of Rockdale discovered its 1974 time capsule eroded, damaging items just days before its unearthing ceremony Friday.

  • The City of Rockdale's aluminum time capsule eroded after 50 years of being buried outside the Lucy Patterson Memorial Library because of the soil's acidity, according to City Manager Barbara Holly.
  • Long-time resident Pud Owens who believes he put a few pictures and old newspapers into the capsule says he hopes all the items aren't lost.
  • Holly says someone is currently restoring the items, but it's 2024 time capsule will be made of stainless steel — expected to last 100 years.


Pud Owens still remembers Rockdale's 1974 Centennial celebration like it was yesterday.

"This was the beard contest during the Centennial," Owens said.

"Did you win?"

"I did," he said.

Especially, the time capsule burial.

"Everyone that wanted to put something in it, like savings bonds, possibly, or pictures of their children, grandchildren, what have you, and they buried it, and they're supposed to open it just right away and find out who put what in it. I don't remember what we put in," Owens said.

That capsule was set to be dug up Friday.

But there's a possibility it all could be gone.

"It was an aluminum, essentially 55-gallon drum that Alcoa created for the community in 1974, and this is when the gentlemen were unearthing it... Here's another shot — the aluminum did not survive," City Manager Barbara Holly said.

The capsule eroded.

"But much of it was just in the environment in a very acidic soil subject to the rains," Holly said.

City Manager Barbara Holly tells me someone is working to restore the items inside.

But the city isn't taking any chances with its 2024 stainless-steel time capsule.

"The new items are tending to be mostly digital, mostly thumb drives, and then there will be a mechanism to play those thumb drives that are also included," Holly said.

Set to last a hundred years, Pud says he may add something for his grand kids.

"I probably won't put my gold ring in. I probably won't put an expensive watch or something there but maybe pictures," Owens said.

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