No one could open a safe for 40 years. A tourist cracked it on his first try.

No one could open a safe for 40 years. A tourist(ˈto͝orəst) cracked(krakt) it on his first try.

By Allyson Chiu

Thirty seconds.

That’s how much time Stephen(ˈstēvən) Mills(mil) said it took him to open a safe that was sealed(sēl) for at least 40 years — a feat(fēt) even locksmiths(ˈläkˌsmiTH) had declared(diˈkler) was probably impossible.

“I’m pretty sure my jaw(jô) dropped to the floor,” Mills, a resident(ˈrez(ə)dənt,ˈrezəˌdent) of Fort(fôrt) McMurray(mikˈmarē) in Alberta(alˈbərdə), told The Washington Post on Wednesday. “I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ ”

Since the early 1990s, the unwieldy(ˌənˈwēldē) 2,000-pound(pound) black metal(ˈmedl) box has been tucked(tək) away in the basement of a museum(myo͞oˈzēəm) in the small town of Vermilion(vərˈmilyən), located(lōˈkāt,ˈlōˌkāt) around 300 miles(mīl) northeast of Calgary(ˈkalgərē). In prominent(ˈprämənənt) all-caps yellow lettering(ˈledəriNG), the safe bears(be(ə)r) the name of its former owner, the Brunswick(ˈbrənzwik) Hotel, a local establishment(əˈstabliSHmənt) that closed in the 1970s, the Canadian(kəˈnādēən) Broadcasting(ˈbrôdˌkast) Corp. reported.

But when the safe was donated(dōˈnāt,ˈdōnāt) to the town museum(myo͞oˈzēəm), a vital(ˈvīdl) piece of information was missing: the combination.

For years, the museum’s staff repeatedly tried to get it open, turning to former owners, the safe’s manufacturer(ˌmanyəˈfakCHərər) and a locksmith(ˈläkˌsmiTH) for help, longtime volunteer Tom(täm) Kibblewhite(ˈkibəl (h)wīt) told CBC Radio’s “Edmonton(ˈedməntən) AM” this week.

The hotel’s manager couldn’t remember the numbers, according to CBC. A call to the manufacturer proved(pro͞ov) fruitless(ˈfro͞otləs), the Vermilion(vərˈmilyən) Standard reported. The locksmith provided possible combinations, but none of them worked, Kibblewhite said.

“We had a conference call going with several of us standing around the safe, trying what the locksmith was telling us,” he said.

After the safe’s door still refused to budge(bəj), Kibblewhite recalled the locksmith saying that the safe may have been left undisturbed(ˌəndəˈstərbd) for so long that even with the right combination, “the gears(gi(ə)r) weren’t falling into place fast enough.”