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Forgotten time capsule discovered

Published: Monday, March 5 2012 9:16 a.m. MST

Le Vongsayo shows the location on the facade of the Crandall Building where he found a hidden time capsule from 1959 in Salt Lake City on Friday, February 24, 2012.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In 1959, the microchip was introduced to the world and in October of that year the Soviet Union launched Luna 3, the first spacecraft to circle the moon.

A month later a group of Salt Lake City leaders gathered on a corner of downtown Salt Lake City and wrote down their vision of what life would be like in Utah when the century turned, predicting floating cars, moving sidewalks and climate controlled clothes.

The predictions, a few newspapers and one very special promise were slipped into a container and sealed into a wall of the Crandall Building, forgotten until renovations brought the unlikely discovery 52 years later.

"I noticed a box and I thought it was a circuit breaker, but there were no pipes," said building engineer Le Vongsayo, who came upon the time capsule while working to restore the facade of the building on Salt Lake City's Main Street and 100 South several weeks ago.

The time capsule was meant to be opened in 2000 and was placed in the outside wall of  the former First Federal Savings Bank at 78 S. Main. Building owner Robert Crandall said the bank closed the branch's doors in the 1970s, and First Federal was acquired by Washington Federal Savings in 1993. The box was forgotten.

Inside the box was a letter dated Nov. 25, 1959, from bank president Matt Dye explaining that the time capsule was to commemorate the grand opening of the bank. A passbook savings account with a deposit of $50 to be given to the first baby born in Utah in 2000 was inside as were a number of newspapers, including a copy of the Deseret News with headlines reading "U.S. Moon Rocket Fizzles" and "U.S. population to hit 179 million on Friday" (the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population is now more than 311 million).

Perhaps the most interesting contents of the capsule were letters from Salt Lake City leaders predicting what life would be like in 2000.

Arthur F. Kelly, vice president of Western Airlines, predicted people would be able to get their mail via rockets.

"All cargo and mail in remote areas from Salt Lake will be delivered by missiles and rockets — radio controlled from point of origin to destination," Kelly wrote.

Kelly also said vehicles would be "controlled by thrust and will be moving slightly above the surface of the earth."

Stanford Darger, manager of the Retail Merchants Bureau, said clothes would be heated and cooled using coils similar to electric blankets.

"Woven into our summer clothing will be coils for cooling," Darger wrote. "It is probable that neckties and cuff buttons will not be part of men's clothing in the year 2000, and men and women will wear considerably brighter colors."

Gus P. Backman, secretary of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce in 1959, said Main Street would extend from downtown Salt Lake City north past Brigham City and south past Provo. He predicted the population of Utah would be more than 3 million in 2000, a figure the state has yet to reach in 2012.

Newspaper Agency Corp. General Manager Anton F. Peterson couldn't have forseen how the Internet would revolutionize how people receive news. But he predicted newspapers would be "printed right in the subscriber's homes by means of electronic transmission and reproduction."

He also said a "sound-producing machine" would play the newspaper for subscribers to listen to instead of reading.

Former University of Utah President Albert Ray Olpin said he expected televisions "in the form of wall panels" to be in classrooms and most rooms in peoples' homes. He said he believed educational programming would be available at any time "at the flip of a switch."

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