Tulsarama and the tragedy of Miss Belvedere
The name "Miss Belvedere" might not mean much to the average person but to a great many Tulsans, it's a name that sparks a memory and a single world "Tulsarama".
The original Tulsarama was a festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was organized to celebrate the 50th year of Tulsa's statehood. While there were many commemorative tokens made for the event, the crown jewel of the jubilee was "Miss Belvedere was a then unnamed 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that was buried underground as a time capsule to be dug up in 50 years.
the brand new sport coupe boasted only 4 miles on the spedometer. It was buried with select other items from the time and was part as part of a contest that would not see a winner for 50 years. Contestants were to guess the population of Tulsa 50 years from 1957. She was then sealed in plastic and lowered into a vault built of concrete and sprayed with pneumatically applied gunite strong enough to withstand a nuclear attack. There she would lay, awaiting the 100 year Tulsa statehood celebration.
Fast forward to June 14, 2007 and a new celebration took place. The coupe was nicknamed "Miss Belvedere" by a Tulsarama committee and excitement for her unveiling was spreading through the city, State, Country and even the world as news of one of the most ambitious time capsules ever made it's way across the web. There was even a website set up and countless volunteers applying to be of help in any way. It was during the centennial celebration that she was to be unearthed, and the following day she would be unveiled.
The first true public concerns arose when her crypt was opened to reveal the vault which was nuclear proof, turned out not to be water proof, as 2,000 gallons of standing water that was 4 feet high, and at one point had been high enough to have completely submerged the vehicle.
Nearly 9,000 people turned up to the convention center on unveiling day as the plastic wrap was removed to reveal that poor Miss Belvedere was rusted from top to bottom and damaged in every way conceivable from decades of water damage. The site of the miserable decaying coup sank the hearts and hopes of many of the attendees.
Even in it's condition it was still awarded to the winner of the contest. Raymond Humbertson, guessed 384,743 would be the population of Tulsa in 2007, closest to the actual figure of 382,457. But he had sadly passed away in 1979 and his wife 10 years later in 1988. The couple had no children, so the car and it's savings account, which had grown from $100 to $666.85 over time, was given to Mr. Humberston's surviving Sisters and nephew
Even withe the disappointment of the initial reveal, Miss Belvedere was not without her fans and supporters who would try for many years to have her restored and placed in the care of a museum. The Humbertsons had the car sent to a facility in New Jersey for de-rusting. A task which took years. After being stored for a decade more, she was finally accepted by the Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe, Illinois, and shipped in June 2017. There she resides this day.
Follow this link to watch a great, short documentary piece on Tulsa's legendary Miss Belvedere!