Crews cease the search for 1887 Lee monument time capsule after sunset

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As the sun set in Richmond on Thursday, crews ceased their search for the 1887 Lee monument time capsule.

A new time capsule was placed inside the Robert E. Lee monument Thursday, the day after the massive bronze statue of the Confederate general came down from its 40-foot-tall pedestal.

Virginia set out to replace the time capsule that has rested inside the Lee monument since 1887 with a new time capsule filled with artifacts that reflect 2020, a year of growing activism that ultimately led to the fall of Richmond’s vestiges to the Confederacy.

Workers have spent Thursday trying to retrieve the 1887 capsule, said to be planted at the base of the pedestal, removing cornerstones at the monument’s base early in the morning in hopes they could locate the 134-year-old time capsule believed to be holding artifacts from around that time.

Crews ran into a bit of a roadblock during the process, with officials telling 8News that the 1887 time capsule is deeper than expected.

Just after 1:30 p.m. a new crane to replace the one that popped a hydraulic line arrived.

(Photo: Will McCue)

After attempting to locate the capsule in the pedestal, crews stopped removing blocks and started a different approach. Around 2:30 p.m., they began digging from underneath the pedestal instead of drilling into the top.

The new capsule was placed into a piece of the monument at the circle but has not been placed or sealed yet. It is unclear when the time capsule will become a permanent part of the pedestal.

By 5:45 p.m., chunks of the pedestal had been removed and crews had dug feet under the base but no time capsule had been found yet. The Governor’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer said he did not envision this much removal.

Thursday will be the only day that crews look for the 1887 time capsule. Mercer said they are not expecting to try again tomorrow and they do not want to keep dismantling things.

Crews worked until sundown before wrapping up the search.

Mercer said the new capsule will most likely go in the pedestal on Friday. The pedestal reassembly starts early Friday morning and the time capsule will be placed during that time.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.

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