The History of Moccasin
Although San Francisco had investigated the possibility of obtaining water from the Yosemite area as early as the 1880s (before Yosemite became a national park), the devastating water problems after the 1906 earthquake renewed the city's interest in having more--and more reliable--water.
In 1908, Secretary of the Interior James Garfield granted the city permission to build a dam across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The permit was vehemently denounced by a number of individuals, companies, and organizations--most notably, Sierra Club president John Muir. In an impassioned statement to Congress opposing the proposed water rights, Muir said, "Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man!"
Fearful that Department of the Interior permits would always be subject to scrutiny and reversal, city officials turned to the U.S. Congress to decide the matter once and for all. In December, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act granting San Francisco rights to turn the Hetch Hetchy Valley into a reservoir. Preparations for construction of the 150-mile-long Hetch Hetchy Water and Power system commenced a few months later. In October of 1934, pure mountain water from the Tuolumne River began flowing to San Francisco.
The coordinates provided for this cache will take you to the original Moccasin Powerhouse, an imposing Mediterranean-style building with a red tile roof and wrought-iron accents in Moccasin, California. This powerhouse was taken out of service in 1969 after a more modern facility was constructed. But the lovely old building still stands, flanked by yew trees and camellia bushes.
Take a few minutes to drive around the town of Moccasin, which is owned by the City of San Francisco. The few dozen houses are occupied by HHW&P employees who maintain system facilities from Yosemite to the San Joaquin Valley. In the mid-1990s, the city stopped allowing employees to take over homes from those who had left, requiring new employees to find housing in nearby towns. Moccasin's population dropped precipitously, and the houses fell into disrepair. (See Carl Nolte's article in the San Francisco Chronicle.) But a grand jury report in 2000 prompted the S.F. Public Utilities Commission to reverse its rental freeze and repair the houses. Almost all of the homes are now occupied again.
The Hetch Hetchy-Moccasin geocache is less than a mile away from the Moccasin Powerhouse. To derive the coordinates for it, go to the specified location and look for four numbers on a wall. Assign the letters "abcd" to the four numbers.
Now, replace the letters below with their associated numbers to find the cache coordinates:
N 37 4b.00c
W 120 a(b-1).803
(Note that "b" is used twice and "d" is not used at all. Also be sure to subtract "1" from "b" where indicated.)
You can check your answers for this puzzle on Geochecker.com.
As of October 2015, the container is an ammo can, so it's big enough to hold large travel bugs and trade items. Please hide the cache well with sticks and leaves after you replace it.
We hope you enjoy learning more about this historic site. Have fun!
A note about poison oak
Some logs mention a problem with poison oak near the final cache. You do NOT have to go through any poison oak to reach the cache! The cache is in a shady area that is not particularly hospitable to that plant. There are a few branches of the stuff nearby, but it's easy to get to the cache without encountering them. We suspect that some geocachers have been approaching the cache location through a sunnier open area that does have more poison oak. We therefore recommend that you approach from the south/southeast, not from the west/northwest.