It doensn't look good...
By Chad Previch
TULSA — The unearthing of a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere brought tears and gasps from witnesses this morning.
The car looks "pretty pitiful,” said Tulsarama coordinator Paula Hale, whose view into the vault brought tears to her eyes.
"I just lived and breathed it for so long,” she said, weeping.
The car was buried in 1957 as part of Tulsa's state semicentennial celebration, to be opened during 2007, the state's centennial.
The vault was opened this morning to give hazardous materials experts a chance to inspect the contents of the vault, including gas and oil stowed in case those fuels and lubricants were not still in use in 2007.
Though it was sealed, water seeped into the vault. The level was up to the car's fenders, said HAZMAT Capt. Randy Springs.
The car was still wrapped in a protective covering, which was caked in mud, he said.
Springs said nothing hazardous was found in the vault, just some hydrocarbons from the oil and gas.
Excavators found evidence that water could have been to the top of the vault at one point, said Art Couch, who is heading up the unearthing project.
"I don't know how bad it is, but it's not good,” Couch said. "We were hoping it would be dry in there. The concrete must not have been as good as we hoped it was. It had some failures over the years; the concrete didn't hold.”
About 70 spectators watched proceedings through the fence on the Tulsa County Courthouse lawn.
Officials retreated to discuss what to do next. Another article:
The vault in which Tulsa buried a Plymouth Belvedere 50 years ago was built to withstand a nuclear attack.
Water, apparently, not so much.
Workers lifted the vault's lid Wednesday morning to find about two feet of standing water and indications the vault may have been filled to the rim sometime during the past half-century.
The car itself remained encased in several layers of purportedly water-tight material, its precise condition a mystery. The outline of the Belvedere's trademark tailfins was clearly visible under the coverings, but hopes for recovering the car in something like pristine condition faded.
Rain at mid-morning brought work at the site to a halt. The vault was covered
with a canopy and opaque plastic attached to the chain link fence surrounding to keep spectators from looking in. Workers hoped to assess the condition of the steel skid supporting the Belvedere.
The condition of the time capsule, which in appearance resembles a small propane tank, was not clear.
The discovery of water in the vault was particularly difficult for the scores of volunteers who have worked for more than 18 months on the car's excavation. Their chairwoman, Sharon King Davis, wiped away a tear as she surveyed the vault.
She brightened a few minutes later, though, and said, "The party goes on!"
In addition to Friday's unearthing and unveiling activities, two Tulsarama car shows featuring 500 classic automobiles and a Saturday night sock hop are scheduled for the weekend.PICTURESREAD ABOUT ITMOVIE