JACKSON, Miss. — It was just a green bottle floating above a barge.

Over the past 33 years, currents had taken it 295 river miles through the Mississippi Delta.

However, Billy Mitchell didn’t know that when he walked by it at first, before it caught his eye.

For 30 minutes he worked to gently remove the paper inside. Time and moisture had taken their toll, but some of the words were still legible.