Rosamond, Ca.  93560

The Unofficial Website

Local History - The Tropico Time Tunnel

ROSAMOND (AV Press, Jan. 1, 2009):   Inside a mine tunnel sealed with 10 feet of concrete at the Tropico gold mine are a 1967 Yamaha motorcycle, a baseball autographed by Willie Mays, a model of the XB‑70 bomber, coins, postage stamps, a year's editions of the Antelope Valley Press, a bird cage, a female mannequin and, among other things, Glen Settle's favorite fishing shirt.

The tunnel ‑ 300 feet long, six feet high and four feet wide ‑ was sealed Nov. 20, 1966, to mark Kern County's centennial and to provide future generations a glimpse at how ordinary Americans lived a little past midway through the 20th century. The tunnel is supposed to be opened in 2866, Kern County's 1,000th birthday. 

"It was kind of like a yard sale," recalled Settle, whose wife's family owned the Tropico mine and who at the time operated it as a tourist attraction. "Everything we wanted to get rid of, we put into the time capsule."

The "Guinness Book of World Records" listed the tunnel as the world's largest time capsule.

 Gathered by the Kern‑Antelope Historical Society, the objects in it came from citizens around California, the Valley Press reported.

 The objects include enough furnishings for a complete house: a television set, clock radio, washing machine, typewriter, Sears-Roebuck shopping catalog, pots and pans and a toaster, William E. Jarvis wrote in "Time Capsules: A Cultural History." Also inside are fishing equipment, a rifle, a bicycle, a packed suitcase, wheelbarrows, refrigerators, a service station gas pump and documents from Edwards Air Force Bases Rocket Propulsion Laboratory.  {Note: Other sources mention many miscellaneous items such as football game signage, bedsprings, vitamin pills, a quantity of other books & religious documents, issues of the Los Angeles Times, paper drinking cups, etc., etc., .... and apparently the tunnel was still considerably less than full.}

 That many of the objects were used wasn't bad, Jarvis wrote: wear marks can provide information to archaeologists of the future.

 Before the tunnel was sealed, Clark Pest Control workers fumigated it. Then Antelope Valley Ready Mix pumped in concrete

 The sealing made headlines across the nation. The New York Sunday Times magazine devoted a full page to it with the headline, "Preserving the Present." The Los Angeles Daily News called it "a huge garage sale in reverse." The Los Angeles Times called it a "20th century King Tut's Tomb."

 To ensure future generations will know it exists, the Tropico Time Tunnel was registered in both the Kern County Recorder's Bakersfield office and the California State Library in Sacramento.

 It was the brainchild of Jack T. Tomlinson, a professor of biology at San Francisco State College.

 "Tomlinson said we know a lot about the kings and queens of Egypt and all the big wheels, but we don't know about the common man," Settle explained 30 years later. "He felt all walks of life should be represented."

 Tomlinson considered using a railroad tunnel but discovered railroad tunnels sometimes are destroyed. A mining tunnel seemed the answer, Settle said. Tomlinson wrote to the California Division of Mines, which advised him to contact ‑county assessors. The Kern County assessor put him in touch with Burton Brothers Inc, owner of Tropico, who donated a tunnel, of which the mine had approximately 10 miles worth.

 Settle, who was a member of both the Kern‑Antelope Historical Society and the Kern County Centennial Committee, co‑sponsors of the tunnel, thought the time capsule would tie in with the county centennial.

 “Edwards Air Force Base and the Lancaster elementary schools donated a lot of material,” Settle told writer Frankie Richards in 1966. “The Yamaha cycle company donated a brand-new Yamaha motorcycle.”  Compiled by Managing Editor Charles Bostwick   ©AV Press

For additional pictures of Tropico Mine as it appeared in the 1980's, browse to


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