For the past five years, the county has been maintainingits own geocache trail, dubbed the Experience Cortland GeoTour, said Jim Dempsey,director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Initially suggested at a Convention and Visitors Bureau board meeting, the trail took shape under the direction of a committee that decided to give it a historical angle, he said. Stops along the tour include historical places connected to the underground railroad and Civil War camps.
“It (the trail) is a minimal investment, which turned into a home run,” Dempsey said.
Geocaching involves plugging coordinates in to a GPS-enabled device and using it to navigate to the designated location, where participants usually find some sort of cache that could include a souvenir or a guest book to sign. The term geocaching was first coined in 2000, according to www.geocaching.com, a website that features geocaching locations and trails.
Geocaching has become popular all over the Northeast and Canada, Dempsey said, and some clubs get together to geocache hunt.
The Experience Cortland GeoTour, which can be foundat www.experiencecortland.com, features 20 stops, Dempsey said, but there are additional locations that are not part of the tour located in the county.
Sean Cummins, project manager of the tour, said that although the initial plan only included five geocache spots, board members made sure that there was one stop in each township throughout the county.
Each spot references an important part of county history, Cummins said, and “each location is significant for its own reason.”
“The tour puts you where the history happened,” Cummins said.
The tour can be completed in around six to eight hours, Cummins said.
“This trail allows people to experience the entire county,” Dempsey said.
Each location on the Experience Cortland GeoTour includes a code that, when assembled, reveals a message, Dempsey said. The completed message can be redeemed for a prize — a geocache tour baseball cap — at the Convention and Visitors Bureau office at 37 Church St. in Cortland.
Some stops include places off the beaten path. A 15-minute, 9.5-mile trip from downtown Cortland to a geocache in Solon ended at an old church. The geocache was found near the old church which now houses apartments at 3809 Route 41, marked by an old bell.
A second trip proceeded15 miles from downtown to the corner of Hunts Corners Road and Clarks CornersRoad in Lapeer, where there was a monument of sorts to retired snowplows along the roadside at 691 Hunts Corners Road.
While traveling out to those two locations, other stops along the way included the Lamont Memorial Free Library in McGraw, an old store next door to the Town Hall in Harford and a monument in Truxton in memory of John J. McGraw, a 30-year manager (1902-1932) of New York Giants baseball team.