The Time Capsule of Tulsa

It was Saturday, June 15th, 1957. As part of the semi-centennial celebrations taking place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, named Tulsarama!, citizens gathered around the southeast corner of the County Courthouse lawn to see the burial of a brand new gold and white 1957 Plymouth Belvedere.

For pictures of the unearthing and thereafter, please click here.

The crowd of Tulsa, OK, gather around the Beleveder as it gets lowered into the ground

The crowd gathers around the car that's on it's way to being buried.

The car as it was first advertised- it was a pioneer machine

The car as it was advertised then. Click on it for the larger version, which clearly sells it as a model that is ahead of its age.

The car was provided courtesy of the Plymouth Division of Chrysler and Tulsa Plymouth dealers Wilkerson Motor Company, Cox Motor Company. Vance Motor Company, Forster Riggs and Parrish-Clark. It was to be a time capsule of sorts, to be unearthed at Tulsa's centennial, on June 15th, 2007, and with it were buried the following items:

  1. A 5 (or 10, according to some sources) gallon can of gasoline, as a precaution if gasoline no longer existed in 2007.
  2. A bottle of Schlitz beer
    A case of Schlitz beer. Click above for a larger advertisement from the time.
  3. A jar (5 quarts) of Oklahoma crude oil by the Sunray DX Oil Co
  4. I the glovebox: fourteen bobby pins, a ladies compact plastic rain cap, several combs, a tube of lipstick, pack of gum, facial tissues, $2.73 in bills and coins and a pack of cigarettes with matches, things you would expect to find in a ladies purse around that time.
  5. In the glove compartment, an unpaid parking ticket (unpaid!) and a bottle of tranquilizers were placed. Other things included:

  6. A Douglas Aircraft Co. aerial map of airport facilities and legend
  7. Statement from Tulsa council of Churches and prayer for greatest good next 50 years a recently completed history of churches in Tulsa and a directory of the present churches
  8. Statement from board of education - historical data related to 50 years of education in Tulsa and copies of "School Life" all-high school publication issued by Tulsa high schools each month
  9. Tulsarama! souvenirs, including an official program, a history book, keychains, and ashtrays
  10. Statements from Mayor and Chamber of Commerce officials
  11. Flags which have been flown over the national capitol, state capitol and in the county and city. With 48 stars, of course.
  12. A sound-motion-picture print of "24 Hours of Progress," produced by the Oil Information Committee of the American Petroleum Institute.
  13. Copies of the "Tulsa Daily World" and "The Tulsa Tribune".
  14. A record of the official Golden Jubilee song, "Riding into Tulsa" by Ralph Blane
  15. Other aerial photos of the area
  16. Statement from Tulsa Trades and Labor Council
  17. Statements from all former mayors of the city - their record of service and civic accomplishments in the city, state and nationally.

As an addition twist to the event, the citizens were asked to guess the population of Tulsa in 2007, and their answers were recorded in microfilm and placed together with the car. The person whose guess is closest to 382,457, as deemed by Mayor Kathy Taylor on June 1st, or his/her heirs, will receive the car as well as a $100 trust fund (worth about $700 by now) that has been accruing interest since then.

An interesting twist to the story is that the winner of the Belvedere, Raymond E. Humbertson, who guessed in 1957 the most accurate figure, succumbed to cancer in 1979. He was, somewhat fittingly, 57. To add further irony, he and his wife had no children and so the Oklahoma Centennial Commission will need to refer to a trust company to decide what to do with the car, as Humbertson's extended family are still around.

People pose for pictures as the car gets loaded

Even beauty queens lined up as part of the fanfare

Beauty queens line up for a picture in front of the car.

Little children also posed

Even little children go for a picture together with the now-classic Belvedere.

A man with scary looking glasses shows off what he's loading - cans of oil?

Actually that would be Boron

The Plymouth is then carefully wrapped in plastic to prevent moisture from ruining the car

The Plymouth is carefully wrapped in plastic and paper to prepare for the 50-year ordeal, and later, a cosmoline-like substance is used to prevent rust from forming on its surface. While no one is sure about how it may end up looking like, and some claims have been made about how rust-proof it may be, one need wait only a bit more to find out.

The people prepare to lower

Why was the Plymouth Belvedere chosen? It was seen at the time as a futuristic car that, in the words of Lewis Roberts Jr, events chairman, "an advanced product of American industrial ingenuity with the kind of lasting appeal that will still be in style 50 years from now."

Schlitz beer was also placed inside

There's nothing quite like a case of Schlitz. Though it was purchased by the Pabst Brewing Company (whose beers are now in turn made by the Miller Brewing Company), some Schlitz brand beers are still manufanctured.

Dignitaries prepare to speak

Dignitaries prepare to speak

The dignitaries make their speeches in front of the crowd.

Dignitaries pose in front of the camera

The plaque above the location where the car was buried.

The plaque that sits today waiting for the day the car beneath it will be unearthed.

See also

The following pictures were extracted from the videos available below.

The men prepare the concrete vault

Making the concrete vault.

Placing the car on skids

The car was mounted on metal skids before being placed underground.

TV Tulsarama the Buried Car, Youtube
TV Tulsa 1957 Plymouth Belvedere, Youtube

References Used

Photographs courtesy of the Tulsa County Historical Society and sources referred to below.

Tulsa World
Rusty 1957 Plymouth Unearthed in Okla.
The Buried 1957 Plymouth
The Buried Belvedere
Classic MOPAR literature
KOTV Digging Up Tulsa's History