‘Today Show’ returns for capsule unveiling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2000


Tuesday, April 25, 2000

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – At 8 a.m., hundreds of area residents and the world watched as the CSX time capsule was opened live on the "Today Show."

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Unfortunately, predictions made by the 1956 governor and rail executives could not be disputed because they didn’t survive their long burial in back of the former C&O passenger depot. The only things that survived the 44-year entombment in the capsule were a few newspapers.

"It was a little anticlimactic, but it was fun," said Al Roker, Today Show host who was on hand for the unveiling.

Roker has never opened a time capsule before, but he was glad to be a part of this historical moment, which began in 1956 on the "Today Show."

The "Today Show" aired the burial of the capsule, which contained a list of elected officials, newspapers and railroad publications and area predictions, April 25, 1956, as part of the area’s Railroad Week celebration.

Although most of the items didn’t survive the years, Roker wasn’t disappointed.

"That’s what happens sometimes," he said. "It happened to Geraldo on live TV."

But the contents of the capsule are not as important as their historical significance, said Kevin Craig, CSX market manager.

"I think it’s an important way to remember our past and carry it into the future," Craig said. "It’s a wonderful thing for the ‘Today Show’ to come back here. I think it helps to show the rest of America what a nice place this is and that the people in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, in the whole Tri-State area, have a lot to offer the rest of the country. The best lies in the future of our region."

To go forward into the future, however, it is important to remember the past, said Paul Tucker, a CSX employee, who was one of those standing in the rain to get a glimpse of history.

"I guess they buried the time capsule so everybody in the year 2000 could look back and see where they came from," Tucker said. "If you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going."

With a baby on one shoulder and supervising five other children, Angela Webb decided Tuesday’s event was something her children should not miss.

"The kids are on spring break and they wanted to see the time capsule," Mrs. Webb said. "They think 1956 is a million years ago."

And taking the children to see this event might make history seem a little more real to them, Mrs. Webb added.

"It’s not just the time capsule," she said. "It’s also the TV show and they’ve seen it on the television. They’ll relate the two together. Education comes in different forms."

Although nothing much was found inside the sealed tube, except for a few newspapers and deteriorated mush, Steve Ferrell was not disappointed.

"Time capsules, when they are opened up, the results are usually the same," Ferrell said. "They are not sealed properly to stand the ravages of time."

The time capsule was originally buried April 25, 1956, by B&0 and C&O railroads during Railroad Week. At that time, the two railroads, which eventually merged into CSX, was at the height of the industrial period and Huntington was the hub of all coal producing areas, said Gerry Gates, CSX regional vice-president. The railroad line, which continues to pass by the former passenger depot and current CSX regional headquarters, continues to be very active to this day.