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Seth!: Paul Powell is dead. Thanks for playing.


Paul Powell's Shoebox

A cache by Seth! Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 10/05/2002
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

One of the most notorious caches in Springfield history was Paul Powell's shoebox. This two-stage geocache is a tip of the hat to Illinois' many corrupt politicians.

Some of you may be too young to remember this story. Personally, I was just a lad when Paul Powell died and his cache of cash was discovered. I placed this geocache on October 5, 2002. Powell would have been 100 years old now but he died 32 years ago, almost to the day. So who was this guy?

Paul Powell was born in Vienna, Illinois on January 21, 1902. He was a big wheel in the Illinois Democratic Party since WWII. Eventually, he became Illinois Secretary of State during the same year I was born, 1965. In 1966, his office was investigated for corruption; he was exonerated, but his chief investigator was indicted for theft of state funds. He was still in office when he died in Rochester, Minnesota on October 10, 1970. Shortly thereafter, a shoebox full of money was found in his room at the St. Nicholas Hotel here in Springfield—the infamous cache.

The famous Paul Powell shoebox was actually more than one box, and not all were shoeboxes. There were also metal boxes, briefcases, and envelopes. This treasure trove—roughly $800,000 in cash—was discovered two days after he died, when Powell's staff and his estate executor gathered his belongings from the hotel room and storage area. The other, less famous findings included 49 cases of whiskey, 14 transistor radios, and two cases of creamed corn. This guy was prepared; for what, I don't know.

The St. Nicholas Hotel property has changed hands several times. It has not been a hotel for many years. Chicago developer Irving Barr purchased the St. Nick in 1999 for $2.5 million at a bankruptcy auction. Gee, if Paul had invested that $800k, it would be worth about $16 million by now. That's a lot of St. Nicks!

So, about this geocache. The posted coordinates will take you to the St. Nicholas Hotel. At this spot, you are looking for fancy awning on the west side. Count the number of light bulbs under the awning. Let this be X. Now look over the doors and count the number of "urns" that are over the doors. [Note: It seems that both of the "urns" fell off. Until the pair gets replaced, you'll need to guess how many there were. Checksum: Your total of urns and bulbs should be lucky 13.] This will be F. Now for some calculations:

A = F + 1
B = F - 1
C = X - 7
D = F + F - C
E = X - 6

Plug those values into the coordinates below to find the final geocache:

N 39° 47.ABA'
W 89° CD.EEF'

Of course, you are looking for a shoebox but it is inside a .30 cal ammo can, with a label. Please rehide it with the label side UP and cover it well. The original contents included:

  • Souvenir Paul Powell money (1 per family please)
  • "Where's George Dollar"
  • Shark pencil toppers
  • Marvin the Martian
  • Mouse pad
  • Plastic walking guy
  • Crazy Eights card game
  • Seattle radio station stickers
  • The Lock-a-Bye, Baby! Travel Bug
If you take the Travel Bug, be sure to log it properly and move it to another geocache soon. Have fun!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)


Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

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