Treasure hunters (geo)cache in at Camp Floyd

Visitors scour Camp Floyd to find out more about history of the park

Published: Monday, March 23 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Tysa Royce shows a log inside a cache her family found during a geocaching activity at Camp Floyd State Park.

Jason Olson, Deseret News

FAIRFIELD — History is everywhere if you know where to look.

On Saturday, staff at Camp Floyd Stagecoach Inn State Park and Museum divvied out the coordinates to historical landmarks so visitors could discover the snippets of the history dotting the landscape.

"Geocaching gets people to places in the park they may not have ever visited," said Mark Trotter, Camp Floyd park manager. "People can be selective with their time if they're not looking for something, but this is a fun way to get them to places of significance."

Between 1858 and 1861, Camp Floyd was a military base established in the then Utah Territory when President James Buchanan believed that Latter-day Saints in the area were rebelling against the laws of the U.S. while practicing polygamy. The rebellion was nothing more than a rumor.

However, in an attempt to divert attention from increasing tensions over state rights and slavery, Buchanan dispatched nearly one-third of the U.S. military — about 3,500 troops — to Utah.

Sites marked for visitors included the camp's cemetery, a monument to the Pony Express, the town schoolhouse and the museum.

"(The tour) makes you walk, and it's a treasure hunt at the same time," said Quinn Beal of Saratoga Springs. "It's been a lot of fun, and it makes history come alive. Plus, it gets you outdoors, away from the TV and video games."

Though the need for adventurers like Lewis and Clark or Magellan became somewhat obsolete when satellites could map the surface of the earth, there are still places and things to discover for those willing to look.

Geocaching has become a cultural phenomenon since GPS technology was first introduced to the public. According to geocaching.com, there are 752,612 active geocaches around the world. Many sites lack historical relevance, but most house a treasure chest of sorts that adventures can discover.

Darin and Susan Eaton of Eagle Mountain have been geocaching for years, regularly hunting for caches spread across Utah.

"We go out as a family, and some of the best times we've had together are doing things like this," Susan Eaton said Saturday at Camp Floyd. "Places like this are a great way to start because the park can provide a GPS and help you run it."

At state and national parks across the U.S., rangers are locating and logging the coordinates for historical landmarks or scenic passes so visitors can take an interactive tour of the area using a GPS.

But caches are not always hid in far-flung areas. Many can be found in urban environments or in city parks. Online are myriad sites that provide the coordinates to sites and treasures.

"What's fun about caching is that you never know what you'll find," Darin Eaton said. "And caches can be hid in anything from a tree to a film canister, so it's really a treasure hunt because you don't know exactly where to look or what you're looking for."

E-MAIL: cnorlen@desnews.com

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