CAMDEN, Maine ― As public works crews finish construction on a parking lot project downtown, they’ll take advantage of a last-minute opportunity to bury a time capsule there.
Town officials say 2020 has been unprecedented, and it’s worthwhile to seal some of those memories in the ground.
“I think it’s certainly one of those years that will be written about in the history books and people will talk about,” Alison McKellar, a member of the town’s selectboard, said. “So it’s interesting to think right now, ‘OK, well what will be said in the future?’”
In the future, the time capsule might be able to spark memories and offer some perspective, she said, and more broadly, add to Camden’s local history.
It will be buried adjacent to the Mechanic Street parking lot, which has been under construction in recent months. The plan is for the time capsule to be dug up in 2040.
Some have suggested including face masks and hand sanitizer in the capsule, since the coronavirus pandemic has largely set the tone for this year. McKellar hopes people also will contribute artwork, photographs and other mementos that commemorate 2020.
“We’re hoping to get some letters from students or perhaps older residents,” McKellar said. “Just really anything that people think would be relevant to the representation of 2020 of sort of a message to the future.”
Those who want to contribute items should deliver them to the Town Hall by Aug. 14.
The public works director approached the selectboard with the idea for the time capsule when crews were forced to deviate from their plans and build a “bump-out” to create a barrier between the parking lot and an adjacent building. The time capsule will be buried there with bricks recovered from the Megunticook River during a town-commissioned study of the watershed.
The bricks themselves hold hints of Camden’s history — many are imprinted with names of former businesses and buildings.
Town officials didn’t have to look far for a time capsule. When they were looking for options on how to build one, they found an empty capsule that was apparently used for Camden’s millennium celebration just lying around the public works garage.
McKellar said it’s unclear if the old capsule was ever buried in 2000. No one can even recall how it ended up in the public works garage.
“It’s funny that it’s been so difficult to answer the question about why we have this time capsule in the public works garage. It was the 2000s, why can no one answer this,” McKellar said. “Why are we forgetting so much?”
Eventually that story might come to light, she said.
Time capsules have long been used to help communities provide a snapshot of a certain era so people can recall that history at a later time. So even if they missed the moment of the millennium, McKellar hopes in 20 years, Camden will be glad to unearth the mementos from this unpredictable time.