History of Geocaching
Prior to May 2, 2000 GPS accuracy for publically available signals were intentionally limited to approximately 328 feet by including an amount or error in the signal by the U.S. government, hoping that this would deny an enemy the use of civilian GPS receivers for precision weapon guidance. With this amount of tolerance (bear in mind that +/- 328 feet is actually 656 feet in diameter) it would have not have been realistic for geocaching to come into being. At Midnight on May 1st, the amount of error added was "set to zero” following an announcement by President Bill Clinton; and thus gave users access to the error-free L1 signal.
On May 3rd of that year computer consultant Dave Ulmer of Beaver Creek Oregon placed a 5-gallon black plastic bucket at the posted coords of N45°17.460 W122°24.800 and posted the “Original Stash” to a usenet newsgroup. By May 6, 2000, it had been found twice and logged once (by Mike Teague of Vancouver, Washington). A video survives that shows the original contents and log book. The initial term “stash” was deemed to carry with it certain negative connotations and on May 30th the name “geocache” (being a combination of words: geo-earth, and cache – better word for stash) was substituted. By 8/16/2000 this was the list of available geocaches – all 64 of them! this post by Dave Ulmer explained the basic principles of this new game and his insight to the possibilities was incredible.
In September of 2000, Groundspeak.com founder Jeremy Irish registered the domain name of geocaching.com and listed all available caches to this new geocaching site; incorporating new features to this rapidly growing sport, such as searching the site for nearby caches by zip code and the availability logging finds online. During highway maintenance, the original cache site was accidentally destroyed by a road crew’s mower and the cache was feared lost. A team successfully located remnants of the historic cache and hit pay dirt when they found – the original can of beans. The lowly can of beans that Ulmer placed in the original five-gallon bucket had become the butt of geocaching jokes as a bit of swag that nobody wanted to trade for. A memorial plaque now sits at the actual site, and is findable as the Original Stash Tribute Plaque (GCGV0P). A cache page has since been established for the original stash, though it should be noted that because geocaching.com post-dated geocaching itself, that these early records are incomplete.
In October of 2000, cacher Paul Lamere was reading an online article about this new activity and his curiosity was piqued. Initially, he searched for nearby caches and after finding none locally, decided to place one himself. What he didn’t know at the time was that this would be New Hampshire’s first placed cache (and only the 158th to be published world-wide). So on a Saturday afternoon with his four kids in tow, he set out to find a good area in Nashua’s Mine Falls Park and found a particularly well-suited spot. The site boasts a nice streamside location that gets little attention from muggles in this heavily-used park. Placing one Tupperware Container within a second one (for added weatherability) he submitted the cache page and coords to Groundspeak. At that time there were no “local reviewers” and Jeremy Irish himself published the cache on October 29th, which was then first found by BobHogan on December 24th.
Ironically, the person responsible for placing New Hampshire’s first cache, ultimately did little caching himself and by the time that NH#1- Mines Follies was about to turn ten, he had only logged three finds and had all but disappeared from the caching scene. With much searching over the course of about a year, Paul (shown on left) was finally contacted and agreed to turn over the cache to Nashuan. The original Tupperware containers had been muggled and with so many people coming to seek this one out, an ammo can made for a better choice.
A 10-year anniversary event was held on 10/29/2010 and I had been in contact with Paul, hoping to have him as a surprise guest. Initially he agreed, but then emailed me about 45 minutes prior to the start of the event; saying that he would be tied up at work. This was disappointing news but the “show was to go on”. Seeing some 60 people milling about in the parking lot, there was one individual who seemed a little bit out of place and overwhelmed. Minutes later, he walked over to me and announced “I’m Paul”. My heart about jumped out of my chest and I was elated to have him attend after all. He said that he was not expecting “this” and explained that he thought there might be perhaps a half dozen geocachers in attendance. In fact the event was scheduled for 4:45 PM on a Friday afternoon, so attendance was actually lower than what it should have been; but all this time Paul had no inkling as to what his original cache placement started in the state of New Hampshire.
When the transfer of the cache took place, I made a conscience decision to leave the page unaltered. There were no parking coords listed at the time, none of the several possible trailheads were given, and no hints on how to approach the cache were included with the listing. A right of passage has developed over the years in that cachers had to work out how to get to the “right side of the stream”, and often mention whether or not they got it right. The exact location is tricky to find, which gave the cache much of its protection over the years. It is an oasis in a heavily used park. I would like to thank Paul Lamere for his contribution to this game/sport/activity that we all participate in. He could have read the original Slashdot article and in finding no caches nearby simply moved on to some other interest. His initiative in placing New Hampshire’s first cache has brought challenge and wholesome enjoyment to over 1000 cachers to date and hopefully will endure for many years to come.
Below this string of stars is found the text as originally written by Paul to guide interested explorers to his cache:
This cache is on public land in a fairly urban setting, an easy walk from a parked car. Bring the kids. This is a fairly well travelled area so the cache is hidden such that it is not easy to see unless you are looking hard for it. I hope you don't get stumped. There are lots of geographic features in the area so you may find that even when you are close to the cache you "can't get there from here" so plan your route accordingly.
Since this is a rather well travelled area, please remember to re-hide the cache rather well, so it is only barely visible to the casual passerby.
November, 2003 - A maintenance visit ... checked to make sure all was ready for the winter ... it was.
Paul, Chris, Cari, Liz.