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Crystal Lake turns 100: Caching in on Crystal Lake's 100 years

The Crystal Lake 100-Years Geocoin Challenge was created to celebrate Crystal Lake’s centennial anniversary of incorporation.

The challenge takes you throughout the city, where you will discover 12 hidden caches and explore some Crystal Lake history along the way.

Be one of the first 250 to complete the challenge and receive a limited edition trackable geocoin. Instructions can be found in the passport, which can be downloaded at or obtained outside City Hall.

To date, over 100 of the geocoins have been awarded.

Geocaching is a year-round outdoor treasure hunting game where individuals place a geocache (container) somewhere in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location (latitude/longitude) with others online.

Anyone with a GPS-enabled device can then try to locate the geocache and log their find. 

Currently, there over 6 million geocachers and more than 2.4 million active geocaches worldwide (150-plus are hidden in Crystal Lake). Every geocache holds, at minimum, a logbook for finders to sign and date, and many are large enough to hold trinkets for trading.

Each of the 12 geocaches in the Crystal Lake 100-Years series has a theme, some of which include the 1965 tornado, the El Tovar Theatre, ice harvesting, the fire department and library 100-year histories, the Three Oaks Recreation Area and Sears kit homes.

Interesting tidbits that caught my attention also have been incorporated into the series, such as the misspelling of the manufacturer’s name at the base of the Union Soldier monument.  Or the process of providing movie sound years ago. From the Mighty Wurlitzer one-man theater organ to Vitaphone, whereby a film’s soundtrack was issued separately on phonograph records and played on a turntable physically coupled to the projector motor.

How about that pickle factory that once stood near where City Hall is now? And it’s always a treat listening to our dear neighbors, Violet and Almeda, two sisters in their mid-90s, tell stories of their growing up in Crystal Lake.

Then there’s the old newspaper articles from 1930-31, reporting the number of newly installed telephones and how those figures were used to gauge the growth and prosperity of the community.

This one evoked nostalgia of the vintage model 7H6 Galion rotary phone operating in our home. Picking up the receiver is like lifting a dumbbell, and there’s something special about the click-click-click of the returning dial.

So why geocaching? It’s about the hunt. It’s about the stories and making connections with people and places.

Maybe it’s the adventure diary and stats bank online that allows you to track your activity. Some will tell you it’s not about the numbers.

For others, it’s all about the numbers.

It’s about discovering places you never knew existed or watching your trackable move from cache to cache, starting in Crystal Lake then to Mexico and onto Sachsen, Germany, where it awaits its next pickup.

Maybe it’s learning a new trick and honing your puzzle-solving skills. Or maybe it’s just about meeting the challenge and getting that cool coin.

Whatever the reason, the journey to discovering the cache can be quite entertaining, educational and even challenging.

And it’s a good excuse to get outside with family and friends.

Geocaching even has its own language. BYOP and grab the TOTT. Extreme stealth required at GZ, muggles at 2 o’clock. Whoa, FTF, and check out that SWAG! Dropped a TB & SL … TFTC!

• Mary Alice Fellers is a Crystal Lake resident.

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