Skip to Content


Unusual Ottumwa Cache

Hidden : 2/16/2002
In Iowa, United States
4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Size: Size: regular (regular)

Join now to view geocache location details. It's free!


How Geocaching Works

Please note Use of services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

Geocache Description:

The final destination is a real cache filled with goodies,(hunting is allowed in the area) the other intermediate steps are all virtual. This cache incorporates urban and rural stages, and is a mix of easily-accessible puzzle elements and hiking through the wild.

For an Iowa town of its size, Ottumwa has an abundance of peculiarities and unusual places. This is partially due to its age, the river flowing through it, and the fact that it once had a much higher population than it does now.

Most steps you can drive right up to, but a couple require a hike, one of which is often overgrown depending on the season, often wet, and may be flooded occasionally. You will visit several unique places along the way. Allow 3-4 hours to complete the hunt.

Although this cache has many steps, they have been arranged in the shortest distance to minimize driving time. Most stages are close to each other. All are in town except for the last which is in a rural nature area.

All steps are on public property. Please do not cross private property even if it is shorter.

I no longer live in Ottumwa, and have few opportunities to check on the cache. If you think you've done a thorough search and still can't find the cache, please post. However, few people visit this site so it's unlikely that someone would stumble upon it unintentionally.

I later visited the cache with friends who solved all steps except the first three without help. This is why there are already entries in the logbook. They thought it was relatively easy except for the first three steps, which have since been modified for clarity. Step 8 has been modified due to a bridge closing. Also there are nine other caches close by the steps for you to hunt.
Throughout the puzzle, each letter represents only one digit. However, one digit can be represented by more than one letter.

0: It is highly advantageous to take with a map of Ottumwa and Wapello County, particularly for steps 2, 3, and the final cache site. You may pick up a free complimentary map at the hotel located at 41°03.695' N, 92°24.636' W.

Steps 1-3 are more difficult than the rest, so you have the option of doing either Step 1 or Steps 2 and 3. Both will give you the same two digits. Hint: The other unknown letters in Step 1 are not used.

1. The following adjective describes the street located at 41°02.811' N, 92°24.436' W minus the first letter of its name: PAL254R63E The numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 replace the letters in this word in their positions.

2. North-south street located at 41°02.595' N, 92°24.258' W: How many separate segments of this street are there in Ottumwa? In other words, this street is broken into several parts, but all parts have the same street name. How many parts total? ANSWER: N

3. North-south street located at 41°02.646' N, 92°24.097' W: How many separate segments of this street? ANSWER: M

Z=N+M, A=N-M

Digits from 1, 2, and 3 can be substituted in to complete the coordinates to 4, 5, and 6. Substitute the digits from step 1 where their respective letters appear in the coordinates below.
4. 41°0A.6ZA' N, 92°2M.766' W: How many arrows are in the sack? ANSWER: F

5. 41°0A.Z17' N, 92°2M.4N0' W: How many cross-shaped protrusions are formed in a matrix here? ANSWER: GW How many stone protrusions are in the same matrix? ANSWER: HX

While you are here you might want to try the caches that have parking very closeby.

6. 41°0A.116' N, 92°24.46M' W: Add the two years that belong to the Senior closest to this unusual monument. ANSWER: JKLY

While you are here you might want to try the three caches located on the property.

G+Y=T H+J=Z Digits from 4, 5, and 6 can be substituted in to complete the coordinates to 7, 8, and 9.
7. 41°0H.7LG' N, 92°24.KWL' W: Find the hidden number. ANSWER: PQ-RS

While you are here you might want to try the cache located within feet of the answer.

8. 41°0H.WTY' N, 92°24.GZT' W: When looking at the face pointing to the road, how many people are standing? ANSWER: U

While you are here you might want to try the cache located within a tenth of a mile.

9. Forgotten corner: How many dwellings are located on or very near the cul-de-sac at 41°0W.4YG' N, 92°2X.LGK' W? This is not a trick question, the answer should be obvious. ANSWER: V

B=P-Q, C=S-V, E=R+V

Digits from 7, 8, and 9 can be substituted in to complete the final coordinates.
Final cache site: The cache is located at 40°US.BB4' N, 92°1E.CCB' W. Park at 40°US.U34' N, 92°2B.BVB' W. It's a 0.7 mile hike from here but parking closer you would have to cross private property. Please park here. I was rather disappointed to find out that the road leading into the nature area has been closed to all vehicles, increasing the one-way hiking distance from 0.3 miles to 0.7 miles. Cache is an ammo can.

Bonus virtual cache: There is a scenic but dangerous spot located at 40°UT.EPU' N, 92°1E.CUU' W, a few paces away from the cache site, which is safe. Watch your step if you go here!! I am not responsible for injuries. The bottom of the hill is private property.

Cache contains Canadian, Danish, Swedish, German, French, Italian, Austrian, Dutch/Belgium, and Swiss change; silly putty, and more.

Good luck!!

You can check your answers for this puzzle on

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Fgrc 1: Guvax onpxjneqf.

Fgrcf 2 naq 3: Ybbx ba gur znc sebz qbjagbja ba hc gb abegu bs Ryzqnyr.

Fgrc 6: Fe.

Cnexvat ybg sbe gur svany pnpur fvgr vf ng gur raq bs n qrnq-raq ebnq.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



69 Logged Visits

Found it 47     Didn't find it 3     Write note 13     Temporarily Disable Listing 2     Enable Listing 2     Owner Maintenance 2     

View Logbook | View the Image Gallery of 25 images

**Warning! Spoilers may be included in the descriptions or links.

Current Time:
Last Updated: on 3/29/2017 6:12:28 PM Pacific Daylight Time (1:12 AM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

Return to the Top of the Page