West Point Time Capsule Yields Small Treasure After All

[Screenshot/Public/YouTube/CBS News New York]

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A time capsule hidden away nearly 200 years ago has yielded treasure after all, West Point officials announced Wednesday, two days after a livestream appeared to show the centuries-old box contained little more than dust.

The time capsule was placed at the base of a monument dedicated to Polish military engineer and hero of the American Revolution, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, in 1828 or 1829. Officials opened the capsule Aug. 28 amid great excitement over what treasures might be found within. But as the U.S. Military Academy’s archeologist team unveiled the contents on a livestream, excitement turned to disappointment when “just silt” was initially found to be the only relic inside.

However, upon further inspection of the silt, archeologists uncovered six silver American coins dating from 1795 to 1828, as well as a commemorative medal from 1826 celebrating the completion of the Erie Canal, according to a press release from West Point.

“When I first found these, I thought, man, you know, it would have been great to have found these on stage,” West Point archeologist Paul Hudson told CBS News. Hudson explained that after the disappointing livestream event, he brought the capsule back to his lab and started picking through the silt more closely using a small wooden tool and a brush.

“Before long, lo and behold, there’s the edge of a coin sticking out and I thought, ‘Well that’s OK. That’s something, that’s a start,'” he told the outlet.

Hudson said he plans to analyze the silty sediment to determine if something else might have been inside, explaining that moisture and dirt seemed to have seeped into the capsule and would have disintegrated anything organic that might’ve been left within. (RELATED: Goodwill Employee Finds WWII-Era Treasure Hidden In Donation’s Secret Compartment)

Experts have estimated the value of the coins found within the time capsule could range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000, CBS reported.

“This is an incredible story that involves so many of West Point’s heroes and many of them are the Army’s and our nation’s heroes,” U.S. Military Academy dean Brig. Gen. Shane Reeves said at the unveiling Monday. “We should reflect upon and be inspired by our history to pause and realize we have the immense honor and responsibility to continue the legacy that Kosciusko started, and that West Point continues to live up to his vision from so long ago.”