Colorado College Tutt Library

Century Chest transcription 42

The Century Chest

(An editorial written for the Colorado Springs Gazette of Monday, August 5, 1901, by Walter Lawson Wilder, associate editor, Walter L. Wilder was born at Sublette, Lee County, Illinois, July 12, 1860, son of Captain William Frank and Rebecca (Hubbard) Wilder. Educated Adelphi Academy, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Williston Seminary, Easthampton, Mass.; Gymnase Cantonale, Neuchatel, Switzerland, and Colorado College. Came to Colorado July 19, 1879; was instructor in French, Spanish, English and History in Colorado College, 1885-8; began newspaper work on the Gazette, Nov. 1900. Married to Ella Ferris Nickay of Chicago, Ills., April 28, 1896. Children: Frank Nickay, born February 4, 1897; Edwin Hubbard, born September 6, 1898; Robert Lawson, born, March 6, 1900. Resides at No. 309, East San Miguel St.)

Yesterday afternoon there was filled in this city an iron chest that is not to be opened until after midnight, December 31st, A.D. 2000. Within this chest is contained to the best of the ability of the people here at this time, an epitome in writing, photography and phonographic records of the life of Colorado Springs in various departments, and of the thoughts, hopes and aspirations of its citizens.

That such a collection will be both valuable and interesting to our descendants and successors of a hundred years hence does not admit of a doubt, though it is impossible to predict the circumstances of the opening of the chest, the degree of respect accorded to its documents by the people of that day or the vicissitudes through which it may pass in the hundred years through which its contents are expected to remain untouched and unregarded.

It would seem at present that no safer place of deposit could be selected than in the center of this great American continental republic, and we can conceive of no possibility of foreign invasion or of domestic turbulence that could threaten the security of our chest. There is little reason to expect that its existence will be imperilled [sic] by fire, flood or earthquake, and our chest might be committed to the keeping of the college library for 500 years, instead of one short century, with the reasonable anticipation that at the end of that time it would accomplish its intended purpose.

Of the inhabitants of this city now living it is only an unlikely chance that any one will be still living when the chest is opened. But we are inclined to believe that this climate, under favorable conditions of individual constitution and habits of life, conduces to longevity, and if there should be numbered among those present at the opening of the chest on January 1, 2001, any person now living in this city, he or she would be most certainly a central object of interest. Not only ourselves, but the great majority of our children will have passed from the earth before the chest is opened, and the actors of that day will be numbered among the third and the fourth generation from those who participated in yesterday's exercises and committed their records to the keeping of the chest.

Let us hope that as the years roll on the Century Chest may be regarded by this present generation and the ones that succeed it as a promise and a pledge to our descendants. Colorado Springs was founded as a city of high standards and noble aspirations. In the thirty years of its existence these standards have been maintained and these aspirations have been realized even beyond the hopes of its founders. In committing to the chest the picture, complete as we are able to make it, of what the city is today, and of what we hope it will be in the future, we owe it to ourselves and to those who will disclose our record, to do our full part towards the fulfillment of these lofty anticipations. If in the hundred years to come dissensions [sic] threaten the safety of our political fabric, if immorality indicates decay, or if selfishness and avarice attack the foundations of our social and civic establish, let the presence of the chest act as a stimulus to better things and as a summons back to the earlier and purer traditions and purposes of the founders of our city and the pioneer dwellers therein.

Written originally upon a Smith Premier typewriter No. 2.
Copied with a pen this Sunday, Aug. 4, 1901.
To be set on a Mergenthaler linotype Typecasting Machine.
To be printed upon a Goss double deck printing machine.

Walter L. Wilder

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