Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam watched intently while historians carefully opened the corroded box using tools. After many hours spent trying to open the box, the team finally pulled out the first artifact. It was a thin, maroon-colored book.

Kate Ridgeway, a Virginia Department of Historic Resources conservator, stated, “It’s very, very wet,” as she looked into the rusted time capsule.

She stated, “We are trying preserve what we can from this book.”

Conservators also pulled out other items, including a coin, several books of varying sizes and colors, and an envelope. Some items were difficult to identify due to their condition.

According to the Washington Post, one of the books is an 1875 almanac and a copy of “The Huguenot Lovers – A Tale of the Old Dominion.”

Construction crews found the time capsule in December. Crews removed the statue’s base and discovered an area that was “different”. According to Northam’s office release, they chiseled a section from the 1,200-pound granite block to reveal the capsule.

Experts believe the capsule dates back to 1887. Experts believe that 60 objects were contributed by 37 Richmond residents, businesses, and organizations to the capsule. Many of these items are related to the Confederacy.

It was also speculated that the capsule would contain more valuable and rare artifacts. WJLA, an ABC News affiliate reports that there was a rare photograph of the casket belonging to former President Abraham Lincoln. Many have speculated that this is not an official time capsule and wondered if the dimensions or material might differ from historical reports.

After George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, police removed the pedestal from beneath a bronze statue depicting Lee riding on horseback.

The removal of the statue was delayed by some residents who wanted it to be taken down. However, it was approved by the Supreme Court of the State.

The state was planning to open a new capsule that would reflect the present-day Virginia as soon as the capsule was opened.

Northam stated in a September press statement that “This monument and its capsule reflected Virginia 1890” and that it was time to take them down. “The last 18 months have witnessed historic change, including the pandemic and protests for racial injustice that led to the removal these monuments to a lost cause. It’s fitting that we replace this time capsule with one that tells the story.

39 people were selected by the state to be part of the 2021 time capsule. These artifacts will include nods towards 2020 racial protests as well as items such as face masks or vaccination cards related to the COVID-19 epidemic.