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Long-Locked Vault In New Hampshire Statehouse Yields Civil War Documents

A long-standing mystery has been solved at the New Hampshire Statehouse. Moreover, unlike Geraldo Rivera’s embarrassing non-reveal of Al Capone’s vault, this opening of a long-abandoned historic vault actually produced a number of interesting finds.

A long-unopened vault tucked away at the top of the historic state building was drilled into by a locksmith this Monday, and a trove of artifacts and old documents was discovered inside. It turned out that now-worthless civil war bonds, travel posters and a variety of everyday and historic documents had been stashed inside the bulky, fireproof Statehouse vault for decades.

The small space where the vault is located is at the top of a spiral staircase in a room that was the state treasury in the nineteenth century, and then became the Department of Motor Vehicles in the first decade of the 20th century (and is currently the meeting room of the Senate Finance Committee).

Keep in mind that the New Hampshire Statehouse has almost a dozen vaults in various locations that were installed after the Civil War as fireproof safes to store important documents. Based on conversations with a couple of long-time employees at the statehouse, Room 103 had been locked for decades until recently.

According to House Chief of Staff Terry Pfaff, it was former House Speaker Gene Chandler who first started searching for someone to open the vault back in 2001, but it was the notable interest in history of current House Speaker Shawn Jasper that finally led to action.

It was originally thought that the vault hadn't been used since around the 1950s. However, after a detailed inspection of the contents, it turned out some of the boxes in the vault contained documents and other items from the early 1970s.

"It worked out great, we had it opened up for free, and we get to experience all the artifacts that are in there," Pfaff commented in an interview with local Concord media.

"Some of the handwritten ledgers are just amazing when you get up there and look at them,” he continued.

Jasper got in contact with Marty Russo, an experienced Nashua locksmith, who offered to open the vault for free ahead of the public viewing this week. He noted in an interview that in this case it was necessary to drill a hole and insert a video scope so he could see to line up the parts of the lock mechanism that had moved.

Russo commented the problem with the lock mechanism probably developed because someone had set the first two numbers of the vault combination to the same number.

"This one in particular had two things: It was mounted backwards, the door swings in the opposite direction from normal, and the wheel pack was not in fact working properly," Russo explained. "And so, all efforts to dial it open normally without having to drill a hole in it failed.”

Source: Yahoo
Photo: YouTube

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