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Where Can I Find Clues to Letterboxes?

by Silent Doug

In order to find a letterbox, first you need to get a clue!

Fortunately, the central repository of letterboxes in the U.S. can be found on the Letterboxing North America Web site. More than 22,000 letterboxes have been entered and catalogued by state and county on this site, making it easy for you to find letterboxes that have been planted near you. Letterboxes in other countries around the world are also available here, many of them planted by Americans on their travels around the globe. Another web site that hosts letterbox clues, AtlasQuest, might be worth exploring, as well.

However, these are not the only places to find letterbox clues. Many letterboxers plant boxes but never publicly distribute clues, preferring instead to share those clues with a close-knit circle of friends, family members and other letterboxers. These are commonly known as "word of mouth" clues. Part of the tradition of letterboxing is that it’s a somewhat subversive, underground hobby, and this kind of secrecy helps preserve those roots. In other cases, letterboxes may be planted in highly trafficked places where a traipsing mob of seekers might betray the hiding place to casual passers-by. As letterboxing grows in popularity, many letterboxers are being more cautious about distributing clues to the general public, so the number of these private clues is growing as a result.

Clues to private letterboxes might be e-mailed or distributed on printed clue sheets, or sometimes even posted online (such as on one of the regional letterboxing discussion groups) or even in other unlikely places. You can also visit the personal Web sites of letterboxers in your area to see if any clues are available there that aren’t catalogued on the LbNA site.

Some letterboxers maintain private letterboxes in their backyards or even in their homes as a fun way to introduce the hobby to houseguests and other visitors. Obviously, you won’t find these letterbox clues published anywhere on the Web!

Another source of letterbox clues is Geocaching.com, the Web site for participants in letterboxing’s related activity, geocaching. Geocachers stash their caches in secret places in parks, forests and other locations, but instead of writing clues offer global positioning system (GPS) coordinates that direct seekers to the general area where the cache is hidden. Some individuals combine their interest in letterboxing and geocaching to create hybrid boxes that contain a letterbox stamp and log as well as a geocaching log. In order to find these hybrid boxes, you’ll probably need a handheld GPS unit (and know how to use it). You can search the Geocaching.com Web site for these hybrid boxes, though you should note that there may only be a few in your area.

Finally, some organizations, such as Valley Quest or South Shore Quests plant letterboxes and distribute clues in printed books that are available for purchase.

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