Treasures of the Valley

The Case of the Missing Time Capsule

There’s a weathered plaque out in front of the Montrose Library. It reads: “Time capsule buried March 6, 1993. Dedicated by the Montrose/Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce. To be opened March 6, 2023.” March 6, 2023 has come and gone, but no time capsule. What happened?

Let’s go back to 1993 to see where this started.

I have been in touch with Bob Torres, who was the mastermind behind the 1993 time capsule. Bob wrote: “The discussion and subsequent planning for the dual 70th/80th Montrose Chamber anniversaries started during my term at the Chamber helm in the summer of 1991. I was asked to chair the committee for this upcoming event.”

The time capsule itself was just a small portion of the celebration surrounding Montrose’s 80th birthday and the chamber of commerce’s 70th birthday. Probably the most enduring part of this activity was a wonderful book of Montrose history. It’s fascinating and an amazing achievement for the M-VC Chamber to pull off! A few copies still float around and it can be seen at the Montrose Library.

Bob continues his story: “The next idea I came up with was after reading a time capsule story in the Los Angeles Times newspaper. I shared the idea with the committee for our own ‘time capsule’. The time capsule was donated by Crippen Mortuary. The capsule was a plastic composite container with a rubber gasket that made it waterproof. I would say it was approximately 15”x 20”x12” in size.”

The capsule contained some Montrose memorabilia, the Montrose history book I mentioned above, an Oktoberfest button, a guide to local businesses and some proclamations from the local politicians of 30 years ago.

But the best items inside the capsule came from a group of local children. Bob remembers: “Inclusive with the time capsule project was another idea of getting the local elementary school sixth graders to participate in the time capsule by writing essays about what they thought Montrose would look like 30 years in the future. The winning essays would be included in the capsule. The school principals would choose two students from each school with their essays, picture and information that would hopefully allow the future chamber to track them down, 30 years in the future. Two of the essays that won stuck with me because the kids’ imaginations were likely influenced by Disneyland. One of the essays predicted that Montrose would have an above ground Monorail system going through town. The other predicted there would be moving sidewalks throughout Montrose.” Imagine how fun it would be to read those!

Back in 1993, 80 locals and dignitaries gathered to watch the time capsule burial. Bob did the digging: “The capsule was buried toward the end of the ceremony. A heavy metal plate was placed on top of the capsule to deter someone from digging it out before its time.”

Fast forward to today when a big “digging up” ceremony was planned for last March. The kids who had written the Montrose predictions were going to be tracked down and attend as adults to read their predictions.

Someone suggested that perhaps the time capsule should be dug up ahead of time, just to make retrieving it at the ceremony a little easier. So they dug, and they dug, and they dug … No time capsule! It was not where they thought it would be.

A couple of days ago, I got together at the library with Bob Torres who buried the time capsule in the first place. He should be able to tell us where it is! Sure enough, Bob pointed to an area that had not been dug up yet. Bob had the great idea of pushing a thin metal rod into the ground there and I could swear we hit something solid that sounded like metal.

So we will see. The Glendale Parks guys will have another go at digging in the area Bob pointed out and, hopefully, I’ll soon be doing an article on what the kids 30 years ago thought Montrose would be like today. A monorail down Honolulu, and moving sidewalks!

Stay tuned.

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical
Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves local history.
Reach him at