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'Keepers' Make Sure Time Capsule Doesn't Get Lost In Time

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Rachel La Corte
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Associated Press
Volunteer "keepers" stand near the opened doors of a safe containing time capsules at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. The safe contains 16 mini-time capsules which are filled with new items every 25 years, starting in 1989.

Time capsules run a high risk of being forgotten once they're buried. In 1989, the organizers of the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule took measures to guard against such loss.

The Time Capsule has some unusual features. For one, the big green safe is not buried; it's on display on the ground floor of the state Capitol. That makes it possible to update the capsule at regular intervals—in this case, every 25 years.

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Credit Washington State Keepers of the Capsule Facebook Page
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Washington State Keepers of the Capsule Facebook Page

Also, in 1989, Washington's governor deputized 300 elementary students to watch over the stash. They're called "Keepers of the Capsule." Some, such as Alana Chatigny of Gig Harbor, took that responsibility seriously.

"For a lot of years right afterwards, my dad and I would come up on Nov. 11 and take my picture in front of it,” said Chatigny.

Eleven of the original 300 Keepers returned to the Capitol Tuesday for their first reunion since the centennial. The now-thirtysomethings discussed what items could be added next year on Washington 125th birthday.

The project reflects well on the continuity of the state and its leaders according to another Keeper, Richard Castro.

"Over the years, it has definitely inspired me," said the native of Carnation, Washington. "It helps us have that connection to our state." 

Washington's Centennial Time Capsule is designated to be opened on the state's 500th birthday, Nov. 11, 2389.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.