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  • Dylan Anderson

The story of finding the century-old time capsule encased in the Historic Routt County Courthouse

County officials worried their counterparts a century ago may have tricked them, as time capsule proved somewhat tricky to locate.

Routt County opened a century-old time capsule on Saturday as part of a celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the Historic Routt County Courthouse being completed. While the bricks came out easily and the copper-incased capsule had been prepared for a smooth opening on Saturday, finding it wasn’t so easy.


Routt County Maintenance Ops Manager Joe Stepan said they found some original blueprints of the building, which showed the cornerstone detail and the location of the time capsule.


“It was supposedly right in the top of the cornerstone, so we took the cornerstone bricks out above to bore into the wall and go down,” Stepan said. “But we found the top of the cornerstone and it was just flush, solid stone.”


Instead of drilling into the cornerstone, Stepan said the county had a company with ground penetrating radar come up from Denver to look for the capsule. That revealed a cavity in the cornerstone near the bottom that held the capsule. Stepan speculated that the box was either placed at the back of the stone and then covered up by decades of masonry and additions, or the stone itself was set on top of the capsule.


“Once we knew it was in there, we bored into the stone and found it pretty easily,” Stepan said. “It wasn’t bad once we knew for sure it was in there, but we were scared they were playing a mean trick on us or something.”

Caption: A century-old time capsule was placed within this section of the capstone of the Historic Routt County Courthouse. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)


Local Free Masons helped open the time capsule on Saturday, which was largely filled with papers from the early 1900’s. Some items were lists of locals at the time, rosters of people belonging to different local organizations and copies of newspapers from the time like the Routt County Sentinel, Steamboat Pilot, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.


The county plans on displaying the contents of the time capsule at the Historic Courthouse. At the ceremony, there was talk of eventually putting the capsule and it’s contents back in the building, potentially with more contemporary items for Routt County residents to open a century from now.

Caption: Local Free Masons work to open the century-old time capsule that was within the Historic Routt County Courthouse. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)

Caption: Local Free Masons display items that were within the century-old time capsule. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)

Caption: Routt County Commissioner Tim Redmond opens the ceremony on Saturday, noting that a century ago a Black man like himself probably wouldn't have been allowed to do so. "It is nice to be in a time where we're moving forward, where we have room and compassion for everybody," he said. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)

Caption: Local Free Masons display items that were within the century-old time capsule. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)



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