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'Keepers' Make Sure Time Capsule Doesn't Get Lost In Time

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Capsule 'Keeper' Jen Estroff speaks beside the Centennial Time Capsule in the Washington State Capitol.

In 1989, the organizers of the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule took measures to guard against it being forgotten -- and lost.

This time capsule has some unusual features. For one, the big green safe is not buried. It's on display on the ground floor of the state capitol. That makes it possible to update the capsule at regular intervals -- in this case every 25 years.

Also, in 1989 Washington's governor deputized 300 elementary students to watch over the stash. They're called "Keepers of the Capsule." Some, such as Alana Chatigny of Gig Harbor, took that responsibility seriously.

"For a lot of years right afterwards, my dad and I would come up on November 11th and take my picture in front of it," says Chatigny.

The project reflects well on the continuity of the state and its leaders according to another Keeper, Richard Castro. "Over the years, it has definitely inspired me," says the native of Carnation, Washington. "It helps us have that connection to our state."

Eleven of the original 300 Keepers returned to the capital Tuesday for their first reunion since the centennial. The now 30-somethings discussed what items could be added next year on Washington 125th birthday.

Washington's Centennial Time Capsule is designated to be opened on the state's 500th birthday, November 11, 2389.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.