Mystery Cache

Original Colonists

A cache by addisonbr Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 3/9/2009
In New York, United States
2.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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Geocache Description:

This cache is not listed at the listed coordinates. The posted coordinates are simply the mathematical centroid for every active geocache on Manhattan as of this writing. To find the coordinates for the cache, solve the puzzle.

Geocaching hasn't been around for a terribly long time, but the cache listings from the first few months are like ancient manuscripts... We page through them (at least, the ones we can find) to piece together what it was like back in the beginning - when the first cachers were trying to figure out what the heck geocaching even *is*. Every new cache had the potential to dramatically affect the evolution of the game - either "What a great idea!" or "Uh, I don't think we should ever do that again..." Pretty interesting stuff.

Some tidbits from those heady early days...

- The Global Positioning System was originally developed by the government as a military tool. Although it was made freely available for civilian use, the signal was intentionally crippled, making it impossible for ordinary citizens to get accuracy closer than about 300 feet. This was fine for general navigational needs, but useless for turn-by-turn driving assistance - to say nothing of trying to locate a small camouflaged container for a game like geocaching. On May 1st 2000 the government turned off this intentional degradation of the signal (called "Selective Availability"), instantly improving consumer-level accuracy to within 30 feet.

- To celebrate this moment, on May 3rd Dave Ulmer placed the first geocache and posted the coordinates in the Usenet group sci.geo.satellite-nav. Much of what we recognize as a geocache was there from the get-go... posted coordinates, a hint/description of the hide, a container stocked with goodies, "take something, leave something", a logbook to sign. (But, the container was buried - oops.) Within 48 hours, Mike Teague became history's first FTF.

- It didn't start out as "geocaching" - originally it was the "GPS Stash Hunt". After about a month, Matt Stum suggested the term "geocaching" on the gpsstash mailing list, and for most of the the first year stash and cache co-existed.

- Groundspeak was not the first to organize cache listings into a searchable database. That breakthrough was first engineered by Mike Teague (the first FTF!) and maintained as the GPS Stash Hunt Homepage. These listings were later ported to Jeremy Irish's site as demand continued to grow.

- Trackable items go back almost as far as geocaching itself. It is widely accepted that the first geocoin was designed and placed by Moun10Bike in September 2001 and was one of the very first traveling items trackable through groundspeak's web site. But a few enterprising cachers had been developing their own traveling items and methods to track them long before - Mr. Tata Head was released in December 2000 and may well be the first travel bug ever.

This cache stands as a tribute to the early days of geocaching - and more specifically, to the early days of Manhattan geocaching. Much of what dominated the national geocaching conversation in those first few months wasn't particularly relevant to the Manhattan game. I tip my hat to the local pioneers who laid the foundation here for what we now know as "urban caching". The historians among us are lucky that we can still visit an heirloom of those early days - the (in)famous 4quA5 cache, placed in mid-2001, just months after the first Manhattan geocache was published (and in fact the only currently active cache on the island placed before 2004).

The idea behind the coordinates of this cache is simple, conceptually. In practice - a bit of research is required.

The container is located at the cache centroid for every Manhattan geocache that preceded 4quA5 - the Original Colonists.

As you search for these listings, you will discover (or recall, depending on how long you've been around) some of the great pioneering caches of the game's history, including not just the first cache on Manhattan or the first cache in Central Park, but also:

- The world's very first LPC!
- The world's very first traveling cache!
- The world's very last APE cache!

Use the posted coordinates for any puzzle caches, not the final coordinates. In case you are feeling any uncertainty about where exactly the "line" of Manhattan is, use the groundspeak proximity guidelines - if it's within 528 feet of what you're sure is Manhattan, consider it Manhattan. (To be clear, we are referring to Manhattan Island; don't concern yourself with all of the technicalities of New York County.) Note! You must include a sneaky Colonist that claims to be from New Jersey, despite what are clearly Manhattan coordinates! But don't fret - if you've found most of the other Colonists, you should be able to track down this one too.

Two of the caches were never found, which doesn't make things any easier. But because I am sympathetic to your plight, here is a photo of the hider of one of those unfound caches looking for, but failing to find, the other one of those unfound caches. (I'm totally not joking.)

There are a number of different software applications and tools that can be used to calculate a centroid - contact me if you are having difficulty figuring out how to find one. Once you successfully calculate ground zero, you'll be looking for a small waterproof container hidden amongst the stones that line the western edge of a paved footpath.

If groundspeak ever re-enables searches for archived caches, I'm going to have to knock down the difficulty rating on this one - but in the meantime, good luck! For the FTF, 2TF, 3TF & 4TF I have rubber banded a bit of paper currency, to some tiny little masked martial arts figurines dressed in black. ** Update - until I run out of supplies, these little trophies will be available for all finders **

You can check your answers for this puzzle on

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Gur avargrra Pbybavfgf qb abg vapyhqr 4dhN5

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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Last Updated: on 6/3/2017 8:30:14 PM Pacific Daylight Time (3:30 AM GMT)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum