updated 3/20/2009 6:46:04 PM ET 2009-03-20T22:46:04

The mystery surrounding the buried location of a time capsule marking Santa Fe's 350th anniversary more than four decades ago has been solved: It was never underground.

The committee planning the city's 400th anniversary celebrations later this year had been searching for the location of the 150-pound steel tube from 1960, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported in Friday editions.

But it turns out that the time capsule never was.

The New Mexican said one of its reporters in 1964 discovered the unfilled tube in a back room of an office machine business, being used "as a shelf for empty plastic bottles and other useless objects."

Mayor Leo Murphy told the paper in the story more than 40 years ago that the project was abandoned because he was too busy trying to pay for bills incurred from the city's 350th anniversary.

"Those were days of confusion, days of chaos," he had told the New Mexican. "I was more interested in getting some friends to sign a note with me to cover the deficit the celebration ran up than I was in what happened to the capsule."

The capsule was supposed to be filled with items "pertinent to Santa Fe's 350th anniversary celebration" in 1960, around the time when the city was believed to have been founded in 1610. Historians later discovered evidence that it was founded in 1607 or earlier.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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