North East South and West

Here was our question: Which Louisiana geocaches are the northernmost, easternmost, southernmost, and westernmost? What are our geo-extremes?

It seemed easy enough. Starting along the beach at the bottom of our state, one needs to only follow the Geo-map from one side to the other. There’s really only a couple places that our L-shaped geography protrudes with any kind of vigor into the Gulf. There’s the Mississippi Delta, and the Bayou Lafourche corridor.

A quick search for geocaches in both of those areas easily give us the site of the geocache hidden for us which is the farthest south, and the farthest east.

No place in Louisiana goes farther east and south, land-wise, than the Delta.

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And most of it is accessible only by boat

The three-veined Mississippi entrance doesn’t have any physical hides (presently). The closest place to the river’s mouth is Venice, where the world ends. At that ending we find a handful of hides, and the one farthest to the east is GC64VNP ‘Park at the End,’ one of BAMBOOZLE’s many droppings. It’s sitting on 89° 21.158’ W of Greenwich, making it the easternmost physical geocache in Louisiana.

That stretch of delta isn’t the east-iest dry land in the State, however.

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Here’s an interesting fact: The easternmost point of the Chandeleur Islands is farther east than Biloxi is.

The Îsles de Chandeleur arc out into Mississippi Sound, and even though they’re disappearing at a disheartening rate, they still are a beach with fauna and flora. However, there isn’t and there won’t be any physical geocaches there, since they’re part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

Now, a swipe of the map westward leads across Barataria Bay past Grand Isle to the land of the Lafourche, and it is there we do find the southernmost geocache presently on our map.

It’s another one of BAMBOOZLE’s. GC3A0K7 ‘Come Get Me Big Doggy’ was hidden by Bam and Short Circuit 2, as a challenge to Big Doggy, a veteran player in the New Orleans Metro Area. To our knowledge, Big Doggy still hasn’t gone after it.

Measuring latitude 29° 06.463’, it is the closest place to the equator in Louisiana that you can sign a geocache log.

Now, astute map-heads will point out that there’s an Earthcache at the Head of Passes, more southern and more eastern than these.

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Image: geocaching.com / Leaflet

GC605FW ‘Foot of the Bird – Earthcache’ is an educational exercise touching on delta formation and river navigation. Its published coordinates are southeast of Venice, in the river proper. Auxiliary to the lesson, the owner has left a physical log at the Pass-A-Loutre WMA check-in station. Because the coordinates to that station are below the 29th Parallel, and nearly three more miles east than the pin for the earthcache, we can interject a kind of asterisk to our above statement about the southernmost log you can sign.

However, this author will claim that such an ‘additional logging requirement’ is optional for the Earthcache and does not count as a physical geocache, respectable and exceptional though it may be.

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Image: geocaching.com / Google

 

What started as a hypothetical question about geographical geocache extremes has blossomed into a monumental puzzle to solve.

Check this out. In the Caddo corner of our State we have a physical geocache, looking like it’s across the dotted line and properly in Texas, but listed in Louisiana, and hidden to the NORTHWEST of a Virtual cache, listed as being in Arkansas.

GC23HE8 ‘ArkLaTex’ and GC7EF5 ‘Two for One, Three at a Time’ seem to have swapped bathrobes. Is one of them not in their actual state? Who knows?

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Image: geocaching.com / Google

 

A Kind Of Controversy

Our North-West corner’s actual location has been the subject of much international, mathematical and astronomical debate since at least the end of the Jefferson administration.

Here’s a little history on the topic. The south and east boundaries of our State are easy enough to find, but where our legislative boundaries slice dirt can be much harder to project.

In 1804 Congress divided the Louisiana Territory using the 33rd Parallel. Everything south was called the Territory of Orleans, and is roughly our Louisiana today.

[For exhaustive history on the matter see: Oliver P. Stockwell, The Boundaries of the State of Louisiana, 42 La. L. Rev. (1982) Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/lalrev/vol42/iss3/7 ]

Then, in 1812 Louisiana entered the Union as the 18th State, and its Western and Northern Boundary was at that time defined as:

Beginning at the mouth of the River Sabine, thence, by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river, including all islands, to the thirty-second degree of north latitude, thence due north to the northernmost part of the thirty-third degree of north latitude, thence along the said parallel of latitude to the River Mississippi…

 

And on and on. It’s fascinating reading.

One thinks it should be easy to figure out. Turns out it wasn’t. Nineteenth Century geodetic and astronomy tech was good, but not to our modern degree. Those original, and later, surveyors were in error to the north by 2,220 feet when they laid a granite marker on the left descending bank of the Sabine River where they said it met the 32nd Parallel, calling it the International Boundary between the U.S. and Spanish Texas.

 

The marker still stands today. Aim for GCTBR8 and you’ll find it not far from the cache. See also this Waymark.

Since the granite Sabine-32° marker was off, their later mark for the 33rd parallel was off too. Therefore, we find there is some of Louisiana above Latitude 33°.

No big deal, right?

That’s actually the case. There has never been a dispute between Arkansas and Louisiana over the border. Whatever it is today, based on the original survey, is good enough for both parties.

It took some time before anyone asked the all-important question (it was 1841 in fact), ‘What is the granite marker’s longitude?’ Later, the Louisiana Geodetic Survey defined it as 94° 02’ 33.0”.

 

How To Give Up and Yet Succeed

This leaves us with the questions: Which geocache is farthest West, and which is farthest North?

To answer them, we are going to simply have to refer to the listings and follow the map down the border. Whatever state the Geo-map tells us the caches are in, we will use.

Of the caches which are shown as falling in Louisiana, the one with the greatest latitude will be Northernmost, and with the greatest longitude will be Westernmost. Sure, it’s arbitrary, or throwed-off a bit. Sure, the surveyors were either drunk or followed a snake. Look what happened with the ArkLaTex cache and it’s little ghosty friend.

There are a lot of candidates. For many miles the boundary between the Natural State and the Bayou State follows a road that’s supposed to be arrow straight but isn’t, and there is a series of geocaches along it to one side or the other, named alternately for local players. The AR-LA boundary was supposed to be a perfect parallel, but it’s not and so it winds a little bit. Due to surveyor’s errors, the Louisiana border dips slightly more and more south the farther east one goes.

 

The Winners Are…

So, after following the map east and south, and much aspirin, we have the following results:

Northernmost: GC17J60 ‘A Welcome Sign’

Westernmost: GC23HE8 ‘ArkLaTex’

Easternmost: GC64VNP ‘Park at the End’

Southernmost: GC3A0K7 ‘Come Get Me Big Doggy’

Honorable Mention: GC605FW ‘Foot of the Bird – Earthcache’

There you have it. A little history, a little geography, a little nonsense.

 

Here’s a challenge: If you find and log all five of them in the same day I have a little prize for you. How little? You’ll just have to try it and see.