Residents and travelers can hunt for treasure while visiting Douglas County museums thanks to a geocacher and museum volunteer who planted caches at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center and the Genoa Courthouse Museum.
Looking for a way to increase visitors to the museums, volunteer Dave Thomas suggested that they hide geocaches to encourage people to come for tours.
Since 2010—when Thomas installed the geocaches—152 visitors have found the Gardnerville museum’s cache and 280 visitors have found the Genoa museum’s cache, he said.
“Geocaching is a good way to find out about things that you didn’t know about before,” Thomas said.
Geocaching.com is a website that explains how to participate in geocaching and logs caches hidden all over the world for registered users.
Users hide geocaches for hunters to find using a handheld GPS or a cell phone. Some of the canisters are as small as a film canister and some are as large as a box of ammunition.
Thomas said that he started hunting for geocaches with his wife, Vicki Hargrove, before suggesting it to the museums. He said he used to search for caches with his grandson before he got older.
“Children love finding hidden treasures and trading the items inside,” Thomas said.
Some geocaches have trinkets inside if the container is large enough that people can swap with their own.
“The rule is that if you take something, you leave something,” Thomas said.
According to the geocaching website, some trinkets make it thousands of miles away from their original geocache.
Thomas said that his caches have been found by local residents and travelers from abroad.
“A lot of visitors are from out of town, especially in Genoa,” he said. “When we volunteer we see people from all over the world.”
And a lot of these geocachers who come to find the hidden treasures stay to take a tour of the museums.
Pam Bachmann is a Carson City resident who moved from Gardnerville in the 1990s. She started geocaching in June 2010 by accident.
“I accidentally found a geocache while exploring a section of the Emigrant Trail, it was located on a trail marker near Lovelock,” she said. “I had borrowed a GPS to locate the old wagon trail and was intrigued by the note inside the geocache which explained the game.”
She said her father bought her a GPS for hiking the next summer and a friend of hers mentioned geocaching.
“My friend and I tried it a few times and I was hooked,” she said. “It seemed so fascinating that there was a game being played by so many.”
Bachmann used the Genoa Courthouse Museum geocache to introduce her friend and her father to the game while showing them around Genoa.
Uschi (pronounced U-shi) Seaman and her father, Werner Schafer, visited Genoa a couple of years ago and found Thomas’ cache hidden in the front yard of the museum.
Schafer, who is from Germany, continued geocaching in his home country, Bachmann said.
Bachmann has also found the Carson Valley museum cache.
“I used to live a few blocks away, so I was caching and reminiscing on that day,” she said.
Bachmann said that she has also visited the museums where Thomas’ caches are hidden.
“In Genoa, I enjoyed the time spent with my friends, it’s always a kick to watch new geocachers discovering the caches,” she said. “At the Carson Valley museum, I remember enjoying the different historical pieces in the front yard.”
To learn about geocaching, visit geocaching.com, register and search for GC2ANBR and GC2AR44 to find coordinates, clues and forums for each of the Douglas County museum geocaches. For more information, call 782-2555.