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PETERSBURG, Va. – The day after live cannon balls were found at the Siege Museum in Petersburg, police cleared a few blocks of the city and experts examined the artillery rounds.

The museum doors closed about two years ago but the artillery rounds, some say,  have been inside the building since the early to mid-1970s.

The shells were in the basement on a wooden rack in a storage area in a corner, with a couple of reinforced walls.

Chip Mann is part of the Petersburg Preservation Task Force, a group taking over the city museums for the cash-strapped city.

His group questioned whether some of the stored munitions were safe. That’s when the bomb squad was called in to investigate.

"We acted out of an abundance of caution to make sure that absolutely no safety issue with these particular munitions,” said Tom Tyrrell, Petersburg Acting City Manager.

The Seige Museum was hit by Union Artillery Shells during the Civil War. Two of the rounds removed were parrott shells and two others were cannonballs.

"They were state of the art at that time,” said Tracy Chernault, with the Petersburg National Battlefield.

Tourists from San Francisco were surprised to hear a closed down Petersburg Museum housed live artillery shells.

"I thought it lent a wonderful air of authenticity to the Civil War Scene,” said Ian Berke, visiting from San Francisco.

The shells were detonated.


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