UNITED STATES NEWS

After lots of hype, West Point treasure box opening yields no bombshells, just silt

Aug 28, 2023, 11:35 AM | Updated: Aug 29, 2023, 9:08 am

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Excitement and anticipation dissolved into disappointment at West Point when a lead box believed to have been placed by cadets in the base of a monument almost two centuries ago was opened Monday during a livestreamed event and revealed to contain little more than gray dust.

An audience at the U.S. Military Academy hoped to see military relics or historical documents pulled from the box. Instead, they let out a groan after experts pried open the top and pointed a camera inside to show just a layer of sediment on the bottom.

West Point archeologist Paul Hudson and West Point Museum curator Michael Diaz gingerly lifted out a few gray clumps and dusted them with a brush, only to have them crumble into powder.

“A little disappointed. We built up to this quite a bit,” Hudson said after the event. “And I’ll tell you the truth, that was the last outcome that I expected with all the trouble that they went to create that box, put it in the monument.”

The box, which is about a cubic foot, was discovered in May during the restoration of a monument honoring Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko. That led to speculation there might be items inside honoring Kosciuszko or from cadet life in the late 1820s, when the monument was erected. Would there be any musket balls, messages from students, or clues to historical mysteries?

The underwhelming results of the live opening brought comparisons to Geraldo Rivera’s televised 1986 unsealing of a Chicago hotel vault purportedly belonging to gangster Al Capone, which infamously revealed nothing but dirt. In fact, academy officials joked about the possibility before the official unsealing.

“I was told yesterday that if we had a sense of humor, we would have asked Mr. Rivera to be up here with us,” Brig. Gen. Shane Reeves, the academy’s academic dean, told the crowd of cadets, officers and civilians.

Though they can’t say for sure, Academy officials think the box was left by cadets in 1828 or 1829, when the original monument was completed. A committee of five cadets that included 1829 graduate Robert E. Lee, the future Confederate general, was involved with the dedication of the monument.

Kosciuszko had designed wartime fortifications for the Continental Army at West Point. He died in 1817. A statue of Kosciuszko was added to the monument in 1913.

Hudson said it appeared that moisture seeped in from a damaged seam on the box and it was likely that sediment got inside. The conditions also could have disintegrated any organic matter inside, like paper or wood.

“We’re going to remove all of that sediment and we’ll screen it through some fine mesh screen and see if anything comes out of it,” Hudson said.

Though historians aren’t certain of exactly when the box was placed in the monument, or who put it there, they say a stamp found Monday on the underside of the lid reading “E.W. Bank N.Y.” might provide a clue.

United States News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturda...

Associated Press

Trump endorses Ten Commandments in schools, implores evangelical Christians to vote in November

Trump endorsed displaying the Ten Commandments in schools while speaking to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians.

22 minutes ago

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Jury awards more than $13 million to ultramarathon athlete injured in fall on a Seattle sidewalk

SEATTLE (AP) — A jury awarded $13.1 million to an ultramarathon athlete who was severely injured when she fell on a Seattle sidewalk in 2021. The award by a King County jury found that the city of Seattle and the owners of an apartment building are responsible for the amount, the Seattle Times reported. Lesley […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Rains, cooler weather help firefighters gain ground on large wildfires in southern New Mexico

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee. Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

One dead, seven injured after shooting at Kentucky nightclub

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — One person is dead and seven others were injured after a shooting at a Kentucky nightclub early Saturday morning, authorities say. Louisville Metro Police Department officials said they responded to a call of several people shot at the H20 nightclub in Louisville just before 1 a.m. One man, 40-year-old Joseph D. […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Man trying to drown 2 children on Connecticut beach is stopped by officers, police say

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man trying to drown two small children at a Connecticut beach early Saturday morning was thwarted by police officers, according to authorities. An officer spotted an SUV parked on a beach in West Haven at about 2:30 a.m. and heard “significant screaming” from the water as he approached. As […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

After lots of hype, West Point treasure box opening yields no bombshells, just silt