In search of the Confederate statue's Time capsule, work stalls

Workers searching for a time capsule believed to be buried under the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which towered above Richmond, Virginia, ran into trouble on Thursday.

In search of the Confederate statue's Time capsule, work stalls

Crews had difficulty finding the exact location of the capsule. Later on Thursday morning, the crane used to lift large pieces of cornerstones gave up, forcing crews to halt work for an indefinite time.

Officials didn't give any estimate as to when work would resume on Thursday.

State officials were scheduled to remove the 134-year-old time capsule from the cornerstone a day after the large Confederate statue was taken down. Crews could not pinpoint the exact location of the capsule after removing a capstone weighing 2,500 pounds (1,134-kilogram), and a lid weighing 500 pounds (227-kilogram).

Workers used ground-penetrating radar to locate the capsule in the third cornerstone piece. Virginia Gov. Clark Mercer, Ralph Northam's chief-of-staff, stated that crews would continue to search for it in the cornerstones and adjacent stones.

They also decided that they would dig into the cornerstone's lid to insert a time capsule, and state officials placed it Thursday.

The capsule will include items that reflect current times such as an expired vial Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination, a Black Lives Matter sticker, and a photograph showing a Black ballerina raising her fist near the Lee statue following racial justice protests that erupted after the shooting of George Floyd in Minneapolis last January.

State officials discovered the location of the original capsule in the cornerstone, a 40-foot (12-meter) tall granite pedestal. This was based on historical records and imaging tests.

An 1887 newspaper article suggests that the copper time capsule is mostly filled with memorabilia. It includes a U.S. Silver Dollar and a collection Confederate buttons. One line in that article caught the attention of historians. A "picture" of Lincoln in his coffin is one of the artifacts.

It is not clear what type of picture it is but the article states that it was donated by Miss Pattie Leake, a school principal from a well-known local family.

Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and historian, stated to The Associated Press that he thinks it is highly unlikely that the photograph is of Lincoln in his coffin. The only known photo of Lincoln as a dead was taken by Jeremiah Gurney at City Hall in New York, April 24, 1865.

Holzer stated that it is more likely it is a Currier & Ives lithographic print or sketch of Lincoln in New York. This could have been made by someone who might have seen Lincoln's corpse during a two week tour.

Lee's bronze equestrian statue was one of five Confederate monuments that lined Richmond's Monument Avenue. It was the only one that had been owned by the state. Although the four statues in the city were removed last summer, the removal of the Lee statue was stopped by two lawsuits. However, a Supreme Court of Virginia ruling last week allowed it to be taken down.