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Historical Gem Found Under Interstate

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – In Cedar Rapids, the Iowa State Archaeologist is working to figure out exactly what a maintenance worker stumbled upon a few weeks ago.

His find is just one of many hidden gems around the city that are just waiting to be uncovered.

It’s like something out of a Nicholas Cage movie, and Interstate 380 plays a big role in the story.

A Department of Transportation worker was doing routine checks along the interstate when he found a sinkhole.

Experts are saying that it was an old beer cave last used nearly 100 years ago.

"It's hard to imagine it today, in fact some of these businesses that are standing over here are standing on locations where some of the houses stood at that time,” said Cedar Rapids historian Mark Stoffer Hunter. “And then the brewery was over that way.”

That brewery was the Magnus Brewery.

"People still find Magnus beer bottles all over the Cedar Rapids area even today,” said Stoffer Hunter.

The worker found what looked like a sinkhole.

"He said he could see stonework, stone arch work in the hole,” said Iowa State Archaeologist Research Director Carl Merry.

Merry is part of the team trying to map out exactly what the worker found.

Stoffer Hunter says it’s one of a few caves used to keep beer cool before the brewery’s operation was shut down soon after prohibition. When Interstate 380 came through in the late 1960’s, construction workers found a similar cavern nearby.

"It's kind of fun to think that every day we drive down 380, we're driving over the old Magnus Beer Caves,” said Stoffer Hunter.

Before 1970, it was common practice to just demolish and old building into its basement and build the new one right on top. That means all around the city, there are many pieces of the past just waiting to be found.

"There's a lot of buried history in Cedar Rapids,” said Stoffer Hunter. “It's just under our parking lots, under our backyards, under our buildings. It just reminds us that history is always underneath our feet at all times."

"The industrial history of Cedar Rapids is long and there's many a great industrial stories there,” said Merry.

The Department of Transportation says that after the State Archaeologist research team completes its report, the cave will likely be filled in

They say it does not pose a risk to the roadway.
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