SUMMERS COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — A West Virginia man found a message in a bottle that traveled over 50 miles through water in 40 years. Now the bottle’s finder and sender are piecing together how the message made it through two streams of water and across two counties.

Greg Prudich and his family were cleaning property in Barger Springs on Sunday when they found a bottled letter partially in the ground under a brush pile. The Prudich’s property is beside the Greenbrier River.

The message, dated July 19, 1982, said:

“Hi,

My name is Todd McIntyre and I’m putting this note + bottle in the water to see [far] how it will get. So when you find the bottle send me a letter and put your name, address, where you live, and your age and send it to me.

… Yours truly,
Todd McIntyre.”

The message Prudich found. McIntyre wrote it when he was 12 years old in 1982. (Photo courtesy of Greg Prudich)

McIntyre included his address, but that has been excluded from the article for privacy.

McIntyre is from Cross Lanes, but he spent summers with his mother’s family in the White Sulphur Springs area near Anthony’s Creek.

McIntyre tossed the bottle in Anthony’s Creek in Greenbrier County when he was 12 years old.

“I probably forgot about it a week after I did it,” McIntyre said. “You know, I just went on with my 12-year-old self and didn’t give it another thought.”

Anthony’s Creek is a 15-mile tributary of the Greenbrier River located about 56 miles from where Prudich found the bottle. McIntyre could not believe the bottle made it out of Anthony’s Creek, let alone the Greenbrier River.

The message was in an old Pepsi bottle; the kind with the Styrofoam label. Prudich’s son had to break the bottle to get the paper out.

Prudich was surprised the bottle had not already broken while going downstream. He said that stretch of the Greenbrier is nothing but boulders, rocks and rapids.

“There are two sets of rapids probably just within a mile of where we found it,” Prudich said. ” … When I mean boulders, I mean boulders. In that one set of rapids, there’s boulders as big as a car. How this bottle survived that trip, I have no idea.”

Prudich was also surprised when he saw the note was written in 1982.

“I immediately did the math, and I thought: ‘Well, that’s forty years. This thing has been in the water or on the ground for forty years,'” Prudich said. ” … The time thing is just unbelievable. He was a little boy when he wrote that note and stuck it in a bottle.”

Prudich said the brush pile where bottle was found was there for 20 years. He also said the river had not been high enough to carry the bottle onto the property in about 15 years. Prudich guesses the bottle was carried onto the property during flooding and has gone unnoticed in the same spot for over a decade.

“We’ve actually burnt in that area,” Prudich said. “We don’t know how we missed it.”

Prudich posted about the bottle on Facebook when he got home Sunday evening. He woke up the next morning with a message from McIntyre that said, “You found something of mine.”

McIntyre’s daughter-in-law saw Prudich’s viral Facebook post. The daughter-in-law told McIntyre’s wife, who then told him.

McIntyre was thankful Prudich cared enough to save the bottle and reach out. Prudich and his family were happy to be a part of what they call “a big adventure.”

Both Prudich and McIntyre feel the story was good news during “dreary times” and showed the positives of social media.

“He hit the right group of people because we’re the very kind of people that’ll go ‘Okay. We’ll see if we can find you,” Prudich said.

“I couldn’t just be happier that somebody like him found it and was just so excited about finding something like that,” McIntyre said. “It’s kind of rubbed off on me. Just nothing but good comments and people talking to me. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”

Both men want to make writing a message in a bottle a tradition, passing it on to younger generations.

“I might actually take my sons out and do it,” McIntyre said. “I’m pretty sure my father was with me when I tried it.”

Prudich plans to frame the letter and hang it at his Barger Springs property. Prudich’s family has owned the land since 1960, and it has gone through five generations. He said the whole experience added on to a special place, giving them a unique story to carry on.

Prudich also wants to copy the original letter and put it on a bottle with a note saying “We’re passing this on to see where it goes.”

“Then one day maybe my children or grandchildren will get a call, which would be really cool,” Prudich said.

Prudich felt the whole experience also reinforced his beliefs on the good character of West Virginians.

“It is remarkable how West Virginians are,” Prudich said. “[Mr. McIntyre] and his family are just like this family that found that bottle. We love where we are, we want to be here, we love the rivers, we love being outdoors, and we like adventure.”

Prudich invited McIntyre to come see where the bottle was found the next time McIntyre visits the area. Both men never imagined a small note in a bottle would bring together two strangers, start traditions, and make memories.