Rewind: “Warren County History Challenge” – July 1, 2022

The following article appeared in the July 6, 2022 edition of the ‘Albany Times Union.’  We invite all our readers to join the letterboxing treasure hunt and look at history here in Warren County.  Thanks to Bill Walker of Cliff and Redfield Interactive for sharing this information.  

HISTORY CAN BE FUN!

Warren County Launches

Historians’ Letterboxing Challenge

By Bill Walker

Warren County is well known for its outdoor attractions – hiking, camping, bicycling, boating – from Lake George on the east to the First Wilderness on the west.  And, among a growing group of enthusiasts, the county is becoming know for its letterboxing challenges.

Letterboxing is a treasure hunt combining orienteering, art, and puzzle solving.  Dating back to 1854 in England, it began with a national park ranger in wildly remote Dartmoor leaving a jar for visitors ot share calling cards.  Over the years, it evolved from the jar to letterboxes and the number of fans grew exponentially.  After Smithsonian Magazine published an article about this British hobby in 1998, it caught on in the U.S.A.

Seeing its potential as a enjoyable outdoor activity, the Warren County Department of Planning and Community Development adapted letterboxing for local tourism.  With the encouragement of County Planner Wayne LaMothe, the county launched it version of a letter box challenge last summer.

Participants solve riddles to identify the letterbox locations, then find the boxes and stamp the logbook in each one.  To simplify the logistics, the staff designed a special passport that contains everything even a rookie letterboxer needs.

When ordering passports last year, the team feared 500 would be too many.  “We absolutely did not anticipate the reaction we got,” says coordinator Sara Frankenfeld.  “We distributed 4,000 passports.  People traveled from other states to participate, as did summer visitors and local residents.”

The summer of 2022 brings an enhanced version.  Its theme is the Historians’ Letterboxing Challenge, capturing the ideas of the county’s 12 historians.  All have provided historically significant locations where letterboxes are scattered all over Warren County.

Each letterboxer who completes the challenge will receive a certificate, a completion number, and a specially designed patch.  County Historian Stan Cianfarano said,, “Our hope is to provide history experiences that the whole family can enjoy and build an interest in what happened in the area.”

“Our feedback from last year was that people loved the historic locations,” says Frankenfeld.  “They loved learning about Warren County history, so we decided to expand on that theme for this year and make it entirely history focused.

Novice letterboxers are welcome.  All they need are passports, available free across the county at local visitor centers, Warren County Historian’s office, Warren County Historical Society at 50 Gurney Lane, Chambers of Commerce, and town offices.  More information is available at warrencoutyny.gov/hc.  Get a closer look at letterboxing at atlasquest.com.

 

We thank Bill Walker and Warren County Department of Planning and Community Development employees Sara Frankenfeld and Amanda Beck for involving all the historians across the county in this new treasurer hunt.

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