A new family event offered to explore region’s history, culture
Everyone loves a treasure hunt. And starting in June, Warren County-based First Wilderness Heritage Corridor has plans to bring you a county-wide treasure hunt that will take you to some of the coolest and most historic sites in Warren County!
The hunt will take the form of a growing hobby known as “letterboxing,” which incorporates orienteering, art and puzzle solving to find hidden treasures and complete a challenge. The goal is to find specified sites in the First Wilderness towns using clues in the form of a riddle.
Two kickoff events for the challenge will be held on Saturday, June 5th, one at The Kinnear Museum in Lake Luzerne and another at Martin’s Tree Farm and Sawmill in Thurman.
The new challenge was developed by Warren County Planning & Community Development, which oversees First Wilderness Heritage Corridor. The First Wilderness Heritage Corridor unites communities along the Upper Hudson River in celebrating their shared history along the earliest route into the heart of the Adirondack Mountains.
This new letterboxing challenge will help local residents learn more about the region’s unique characteristics and history while also having fun!
“The Letterboxing Trail provides an opportunity for both local residents and visitors to get out and explore historic, cultural, and recreational locations throughout the First Wilderness Corridor that are a bit off the beaten path,” explained Wayne LaMothe, Warren County
Planner and First Wilderness Heritage Corridor Coordinator. “These destinations and events reflect many of the rugged and rustic qualities that make the Corridor and its history unique. We hope the challenge format will provide a fun incentive for families to explore areas
of Warren County that they may not otherwise visit.”
So how does it work?
Pick up a First Wilderness Letterboxing Passport at an area Visitors’ Center or Chamber of Commerce. You can also print your own using the instructions at firstwilderness.com.
At each letterboxing site in the First Wilderness, you will search for a hidden, weather-proof box, with a logbook, a hand-carved stamp, and an inkpad. Use the provided clues, which are in the form of a riddle, to help find the box. Once you find the box, use the stamp to mark your passport. Leave a note, along with your own stamp if you have one, in the logbook. Make sure to return all items to the box and hide it back carefully where you found it for the
next adventurer. It’s a good idea to bring your own inkpad, if you have one, just in case the one in the box is missing. Find at least 18 of the First Wilderness letterboxing sites and receive a free embroidered First Wilderness patch!
To get your patch, submit your passport online at firstwilderness.com or mail your completed
Warren County Planning Department
1340 State Route 9
Lake George NY 12845
Letterboxing got its start in 1854 in England, when a National Park guide placed a jar for visitors with his calling card inside, along with an invitation for those who found the jar to leave their own cards. After a while, visitors started leaving postcards or notes in the jar, and the next visitor would return them by mail. (“Letterbox” is the British term for Mailbox.). Eventually, instead of calling or postcards, visitors started using hand-carved rubber stamps to leave their marks in a logbook, which is the current practice today. After an article in Smithsonian Magazine in 1998, letterboxing caught on in the U.S., and there are now over 90,000 active letterboxes in North America.
Need more help?
When the challenge is active, visit First Wilderness Heritage Corridor’s website for an interactive
map with driving directions to all the sites and hints on clue locations. You can also visit a local
Chamber of Commerce or Visitors’ Center and staff there may be able to assist you.
Share the fun!
Post pictures of your First Wilderness letterboxing adventures on social media with the tags
#firstwilderness and #firstwildernessletterboxing. Please don’t post the actual box locations,
though. We don’t want to spoil the fun for other adventurers!
Letterboxing! I never knew what this was until one day close to fifteen years ago I was in Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, NY and, me being curious that I am, happened upon a small plastic container wedged in a tree trunk in an out of the way place in that acreage. It was like finding treasure the child in me immediately thought upon opening that box. Since then I happened upon at least three more, all of them in cemeteries, one in Minerva, one in Saratoga County & another somewhere in Rensselaer County. I was never looking for them, they were never even a thought in my mind, when I found them. All were in very inconspicuous places, in woods behind the cemeteries, etc… What are the odds? I suppose when you’re as curious as the child in me is, interesting discoveries are never far at hand as has been proven true over and again. Life is interesting to say the least!
Charlie — I think you stumbled upon a “geo-cache”. Geo-Cacheing was very popular when mass-market GPS units first became available… The rules were very like the letterbox description above —– maybe even a common aegis exists?? Anyone could initiate one: just start a container, hide it, and put its gps location on a web site. The game was to use the gps points and try to locate the cache; add something to it and put it back; and log your “hit” back online… Note that almost all references to geo-cacheing included very clear “reminders” that private property needed respect at all times. This from a retired cemetery superintendent in Onondaga County…
Thinking about it now, and after just looking up geo-caching & letter-boxing online so as to verify, they are both very similar in their design, and I believe I may have stumbled upon a mix of the two out of the four that I happened upon. I recall there was rubber stamping, and also just notebooks with pens or pencils within the box so as to write a few words, which I did even though I was not a participant in those hunts. I have noted & taken photos of every one of these finds which could take a year to find and verify as I have so much. Thanks for shouting out Charles.
Cemetery super! I bet you have some stories to tell!