March 15, 2008

The Oldest Geocaches

Of all the geocaches that you’ve found, do you ever wonder which one is the oldest? Or are you curious as to which is the oldest cache in your town/city or state? We’ll explain how you can find out later, but first, a little geocaching history lesson.

The first cache ever hidden was on May 3, 2000 by Dave Ulmer, a GPS enthusiast in Beaver Creek, Oregon, two days after the United States Government discontinued Selective Availability of the Global Positioning System signals. He hid what he referred to as a “GPS Stash Hunt”, and then posted the coordinates on an internet GPS users’ group and invited people to go and find it. Here's a map of the spot of this very first hide.

Shortly after, more people began hiding these “stashes” and posting the coordinates on the internet. On September 2, 2000, was launched with a database consisting of 75 caches. Today, there are over 500,000 geocaches hidden worldwide. For a nice, concise discussion of the beginnings of geocaching, visit this link.

If you’d like to figure out which was the first cache hidden in your state, you can create a Pocket Query that’ll tell you. Here’s how:

Under your Account page on, select, “Build Pocket Queries”. Then click “Create a new query”, and select the following options:

  • Within States/Provinces (select yours)
  • Within radius of 500 miles
  • Placed During (this is the key field)
    • Between September 1, 2000 and December 31, 2000

Then click “Submit Information” and on the next page, select “Preview the Search”. You should now have a list of the first set of geocaches placed in your state. For example, running this query for California returns a list of 16 caches, the oldest being Phil’s Memorial Cache in San Diego County near Big Laguna Lake, placed on September 10, 2000.

If there isn’t a cache in your home state that falls within this search criteria, try extending the end date of the query until it produces some results.

You can also modify this query to, say, find the oldest caches within a set radius of your home (using the From Origin query selection). Or, of all the caches you have found so far, find the oldest geocache hidden (check the “I have found” box). You may have to play around with the end date a bit to generate results you can use.

Of course, if you use a geocaching database program like GSAK you can simply sort your different cache lists by the date placed field to generate the same information.

For the record, the oldest cache that I’ve found so far was placed on January 20, 2001; but I see that the oldest local (Bay Area) cache, Firestone, was hidden on October 2, 2000. I definitely need to move this one up on my to-do list.

Keep on cachin!


SilverFox77 said...

Mingo - GC30 was hidden on 05/11/2000. I think this might be one of the oldest.

GeoJoe said...

Hello SilverFox77,

It's certainly one of the oldest, if not the oldest, active caches. Thanks for pointing it out. Here's a link: