April 18, 2008

Knowledge Through Geocaching

This recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle reminds readers that this is the 50th anniversary of the running of the last passenger train across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The column gives a brief account of the history of that service, known as the Key System (named after the layout of of rail lines, which resembled a gigantic key). I , unfortunately, was born too late to ride these electric trains; but I do remember how my parents and grandparents used to speak fondly of it.

Reading this article reminded me of one of my very first geocache finds: Eastport (GCD0CD). Inside the cache container was some information about the old railroad line that used to run through the very spot where the cache was hidden, along with some historic photos. The cache owner also included a link to his web site, Bay Area Rails: Then and Now, which contains a plethora of fascinating information, historic photos and maps, and old newspaper clippings on the subject. Here's a photo showing what the area looked like in 1957 (Photo courtesy of Donald Duke):

Even though I grew up in the Bay Area, I had never learned as much about its rail history as I did from finding that cache. Now every time I drive or ride by this spot, I try to imagine what it must have been like here nearly 100 years ago when trains used to rumble back and forth through this canyon.

So even though I never had an opportunity to ride the Bay Area's early railroad service, I was at least able to gain a much better appreciation of what it was like here during that time. Whether you're a long-time resident or a first-time visitor to an area, it's amazing how much history you can learn about a place from doing a little geocaching. Just another of the many benefits of our little hobby.

Keep On Cachin'


Norm said...

Great post. I love geocaches that are history related. IMHO, that's one of the great aspects of the pursuit - to learn more about history and the world around us. Geocaching has taken my wife and I to places we would never have visited. And now, some of those areas are our favorites to go back and visit. Thanks for the post.

GeoJoe said...

Thanks for the comment. I completely agree. Not only do I love learning about new areas when I travel for work, but I'm also amazed at how much new information I learn about my own neighborhood and region through geocaching!

Apollo Idol Prudence said...

just came across your site while doing some satrday morn reading on the Sac. North train system, or as I refer, the Oakland Antioch Eastern. I live in Diablo Valley, and am intrigued on the history of the area. As well, have devoted a web blog on the OAE railway. Another as well, LOVE THE GEOCACHE! Your explanation on history intertwining geocaching fits the bill. Amazing stuff; keep on keeping on