SCRANTON — Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard made a remarkable discovery in Scranton Wednesday: a time capsule buried in the wall of their old armory that hasn’t seen the light of day in more than a century.
And it could have gone unnoticed if the Commander’s Google search hadn’t led him there.
Watres Armory on Adams Avenue was the home of the Pennsylvania National Guard Brigade in Scranton from 1900 until 2012. The empty building is up for sale. The brigade commander said it could have switched hands without anyone ever knowing about the priceless history sitting behind this cornerstone.
Colonel Michael A. Konzman thought he knew every corner of the old Watres Armory in Scranton. So, imagine his surprise when a Google search found information that a time capsule was buried in its cornerstone. And his worry when soldiers spent four hours trying to get it out.
“My biggest fear was that we were going to have a Geraldo Rivera moment, and open it up and find nothing in it, or water had gotten into it and all the papers were rotted and we’d have a black mess,” Col. Konzman said.
But the copper capsule held up well since it was placed there when the armory was being built in 1900. So Col. Konzman’s lucky hunch turned into an archaeological dig of sorts. Soldiers sifted through documents, books, and newspapers more than a century old.
As they read, National Guardsmen from the 55th Brigade found out about their history. Like when the 13th Brigade in Scranton handled the coal mining strikes of 1877.
“The stuff in here, it’s been 113 years since its seen the light of day or anyone’s even looked at it,” added Col. Konzman.
What was perhaps the most surprising is that no living member of the Pennsylvania National Guard even knew the capsule existed. So, there’s a chance all this history could have been lost.
“People may say there’s bad stuff about the internet, but I’ll tell you what, if you use it for the right reasons it’s amazing what you’re going to find as far as history is concerned,” said Col. Konzman.
Soldiers packed up the capsule contents and took it to their new headquarters for now, so it can be appraised. But, as far as Colonel Konzman is concerned, it’ll always be priceless.
“We have a treasure trove, we’re not sure everything we’ve got but we know it’s incredible,” he said.