1965 was a historic year for La Crosse County. The old courthouse was demolished, and the Mississippi River flooded. The discovery of the time capsule behind the dedication plaque of the old administrative building came as a surprise.
"In the 30 years I've worked here, no one's ever mentioned that this time capsule was behind the wall. You know, I actually even checked with people that have been here for a long time and there's been no mention of this time capsule behind the wall, so it was a great surprise to everybody here at the county," said Dan Ferguson, Maintenance Department with La Crosse County.
And the surprises kept coming. When the County Board opened the copper time capsule, they found a smaller one tucked inside dating back to 1903.
"I was definitely surprised," said Ralph Geary, supervisor for La Crosse County. "I'm glad they put the original one in the second one, because stuff in there is 115 years old."
Contents in both capsules included newspapers, old coins, a photo history of the old courthouse, and transcripts from county meetings, highlighting how the county has changed.
"It was more rural," Geary said. "They make a reference to the insane asylum. Well, we don't call a health center an insane asylum anymore or a poor farm. We've evolved and upgraded those kinds of facilities."
But Geary said it is all about remembering.
"People always learn from history, and they're fascinated by history and they're fascinated why things change and why things evolve and how things used to be and maybe what they will be," he said.
Current county officials have already started discussions about creating their own time capsule--one filled with items that future La Crosse residents will talk about. It will hold the contents of both previous time capsules with more from this generation. They plan to put all of the contents in one box and hope to work with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to create a box seal that will last for decades.