The Mystery of the IGY Time Capsule

A lost time capsule seen here in 1961
The time capsule being photographed by an unidentified person in early 1961. This photo is by Henry Brecher, a member of the 1960-61 Byrd-Pole traverse, and is used by permission.
the observation hut used during the first Pole winters
Above, a photo of the observation hut where the time capsule had been placed...by Cliff Dickey from the USAP Photo Library (link to original). Here is a smaller color photo of the hut from another angle by Cliff Dickey, a member of the first winterover crew, thanks to Dick Bowers.

The original Pole crew had been entrusted with a time capsule from the citizens of Peoria...remember that Peoria was the headquarters of the Caterpillar tractor company. This capsule was actually a sealed-up LGP D-8 cylinder liner which was to be deposited at Pole, with instructions that it be retrieved and opened in 2000. Since anything buried was likely to become lost, they decided to place the capsule in the small observation hut located at the geographic Pole. This hut was used for astronomical, solar, and celestial observations which were made in an effort to locate the exact location of the geographic South Pole (determined to be somewhere inside the ring of 55 gallon drums). Dick Bowers, the leader of the Seabee construction group, saw the capsule in place on New Years Day 1957 shortly before he left Pole.

In 2000 Dick Bowers described the hut to me as follows: "We placed the capsule on the floor of a 4'x4'x8' shed strapped to a metal drop platform. It looked pretty much like an outhouse. One of our crew painted a half moon on the door! We documented its location relative to the Pole Station--bearing and distance--in our narrative reports...Then Siple and Tuck, with the benefit of stars, located a more precise location for the Pole, surrounded it with a circle of barrels and moved the hut to a spot within the circle. We know it was moved from its original location."

This hut may have been removed after the first winter; it appears in some but not all photos of the South Pole taken during the 1957-58 summer. There was a hut (perhaps a different one) in this location during the early 60's which became buried and lost according to members of the 1964 w/o crew. Dick Bowers worked with Jerry Marty, the construction manager of the new station, in an effort to determine where the time capsule might have ended up, so that it could be retrieved eventually. Jerry Marty had a couple of clues as to where the time capsule might have been moved inside the old station, but alas, there is no hope of finding the time capsule after the old station was destroyed.

Okay, anyone know anything? Remember seeing the capsule or the hut? If so, please let me know....

The installation of the time capsule is well documented in Paul Siple's book 90 South.

(here is another photo of this scene a year later, from the Fuchs/Hillary book about the Trans-Antarctic Expedition).