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Hard choices for a new time capsule

Mike Holtorf

MAZEPPA — Mazeppa area history buffs didn't have hard choices when deciding what not to put into a time capsule to be inserted this week into a bridge being built across the North Fork Zumbro River.

CDs and DVDs were out because they are too big for the 4-inch wide, foot long, PVC pipe.

Nothing with cursive writing. It's going the way of shorthand so few, if any, will be able to read it when the capsule is opened.

Deciding what to put in, however, was vexing. Members of the Mazeppa Area Historical Society had to think about what kind of technology to use. When the capsule is opened in several decades, will there be any way to read some of that information?

In the end, here is what they decided to put in:


• Three local monthly newspapers, the Mazeppa-Zumbro Falls Messenger (each has a large section on local history) including an explanation of why a large rock sits by the walking bridge.

• Two flash drives with well-known Minnesota meteorologist Mark Seeley explaining how his great-great-grandfather named the town for a poem by Lord Byron as well as local happenings such as the Lions barbecue and the song "Where the Hell is Mazeppa."

• A brochure about the beginning of the village.

• Two cell phones to show what kind of technology was used now.

• A cemetery walk program.

• Society newsletter.

• Photos of the museum.

• Postcards.


• A note from society leader Helen Reiland with her wishes and hopes for the continuation of preserving history.

"We are doing this not knowing what it will be like in 100 years," Reiland said. She hopes it will spark some interest among people when they open it. "Basically we discussed and tried to cover all angles."

Tom Stahman is credited with the idea of the capsule and sealed the items inside the pipe. He said he grew up in the area and graduated from what was then Mazeppa High School in 1986. He helped found the historical society nearly five years ago.

In those five years, they have done cemetery walks, held fundraisers and tried to preserve local history.

The time capsule is another part of that work, he said.

He said he got the idea a while back when a soldered copper time capsule was found in Zumbrota. It was put in the bridge in the 1940s and no one knew about it, he said.

"It was a great surprise," said "Duff" Bement, a Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge inspector who worked on the Zumbrota bridge and is also working on the new one at Mazeppa.

He predicted the bridge will be ready the day after Labor Day because school buses will have to cross it, he said. Rain has been a bit of a problem, but the crew from ICON contractors put in some hard hours, including in the rain, he said.


When it's done, it will be wider and also have the capsule buried in a wall behind the plaque identifying the bridge.

The new capsule is "for the future, so they can see what we had," Stahman said.

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