We asked Corey Thomas, vice president of business development at Pishny Restoration Services, what the most surprising thing he ever found on a job site.
"The biggest surprise was on a historic restoration project was at Chalmette National Cemetery in Louisiana, which sustained serious damage in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina caused the Mississippi River to flow backward and flood this cemetery and historic battleground site," he said.
“These are soldiers buried here and headstones were just snapped at the ground level. We got a contract to go in and restore the monuments and headstones that had broken. There was a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) monument with a square base and round column on top. At the transition from square to round, there was a cap that was just mortar. It had cracked out. There were plants growing out of it.
Our scope was to remove the cap, clean the granite monument, remove the mortar cap and then apply a new mortar cap over the top. Well when we took the mortar cap off, it was a hollow cavity filled with sand, bricks, chunks of concrete and granite, and there was another thing inside there. It was a large brass mortar shell that would have been fired off a ship. It was just the casing, about four inches in diameters, two of them had been placed together and soldered. You could pick it up and there were items in it. It was a little time capsule, completely soldered shut. The National Parks Service had no record of that being placed in there. We turned it over to National Parks and I’m not certain it’s ever been opened. They were looking for some kind of instructions or information on who placed it there and when to open it."