This week, history was unearthed in Dry Tortugas National Park, and the South Dade News Leader was part of the memorable moment.
The Dry Tortugas National Park is in the process of completing a structural assessment of the Tortugas Harbor Light located on the terreplein level of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park.
As part of this effort, the non-original interior woodwork needed to be removed so that engineers could have full access to the interior sides of the iron lighthouse.
While contractors were removing the woodwork recently for this purpose, a ‘time capsule’ of sorts was discovered.
According to park Cultural Resources Specialist, Kelly Clark, it was “wrapped in tinfoil and taped shut.”
Clark said items found inside included “a News Leader newspaper from October 25, 1976 along with a small plastic jar that contained three pennies from the year 1976.”
As to who exactly left the items behind for us may be debatable.
The 482nd Civil Engineering Squadron USAFR from Homestead (or its predecessor 915th Civil Engineering Flight) did do work in February of 1976 to remove the wood work.
In a 2012 interview with Col. (Ret.) Jerry Cheeseman, he noted that they did not get to finish putting the wood back into place and that this was done by the NPS after the Air Force crew left the site.
The items from the “time capsule” have been photographed and the locations of discovery documented.
The new park curator will decide how these items will be archived or curated.