Little Bits of History

Geocaching Begins

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 3, 2015
Geocaching logo

Geocaching logo

May 3, 2000: A new outdoor activity begins. The game is similar to the 160-year-old game of letterboxing which used clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. Geocaching was brought online shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from the Global Positioning System which happened just the day before. Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon hid his cache and posted the location on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav as 45°17.460′N 122°24.800′W. He said his hidden treasure was a black plastic bucket partially buried and containing software, videos, books, food, money, and a slingshot. Within three days, it had been found twice. Today, the site is memorialized with a plaque called the Original Stash Tribute Plaque.

The traditional geocache is made up of a waterproof container holding a log book and a pen or pencil and trade items. The geocacher posts the cache’s coordinates and may include other details on the location to a listing site. Other geocachers get the coordinates from the listing site and the go out and attempt to find the hidden cache. Once found, they record their name in the included logbook and return the cache to the same location for others to find. Usually, they will post their find online as well. If there are items in the cache, they may be traded. If you take something; you leave something – but you must leave the logbook and writing utensil and a stamp if it is included. Items left are of little monetary value, but often have some meaning for the cacher who left it behind.

At times, higher value items can be left in a geocache and goes to the FTF – First To Find. This is typically done if the location is difficult to reach. Dangerous or illegal items are usually not permitted but there is no rule against it. If the cache has been vandalized or stolen, it is said to have been muggled as people not familiar with the game are called muggles, a term borrowed from Harry Potter, a series of book appearing at about the same time as the activity. Variations also exist and can be included. Some are like a scavenger hunt where each cache leads to the next and one logs in only if the last cache has been found. The only other item needed is a way to track one’s location and so a mobile device with a GPS system is needed.

There are a set of loose ethics set up around the game. There is even a Geocacher’s Creed posted on the Internet asking that players “avoid causing disruptions or public alarm”. The goal is to have fun seeking out the cache while still not harming others who wish to play and with a minimal impact on the natural terrain. Private property rights are to be respected. Some cachers have been approached by police since they were acting “suspiciously” and a few caches have been destroyed by Bomb Squads. Some people consider the leaving of caches to be littering. The largest repository of cache listings is but other sites are also available. The game continues to be popular with those who love hide-and-seek in the outdoors.

I search for tupperware in the woods, what do you do for fun? – geocache saying

Finding geocaches is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. – geocache saying

To hide is the beginning. To Find is the result. To seek is the adventure. – geocache saying

Exploring my world one box at a time. – geocache saying

Also on this day: “I Feel Good” – In 1933 James Brown was born.
Secret Annex – In 1960, the Anne Frank House was opened.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark – In 1877, Labatt Memorial Park opened.
Where Poppies Grow – In 1915, John McCrae wrote a poem.
Films Around the World – In 1913, the first Indian feature film was released.


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