The Depot — Geocache of the Week

Letterbox Hybrid
GC31DE
by Chooch
Difficulty: 
1
Terrain: 
2
Location: 
Massachusetts, United States
N 42° 16.245 W 071° 15.006
“Miniature” is all relative.

Why this is Geocache of the Week:

If you’re wondering how many model train sets are hidden in the forests of Massachusetts, we can confidently say: probably just one. At least, this is the only one we’ve heard of that’s worth booking the very next flight to Boston for.

“The Depot” is one of those geocaches that will surprise and delight geocachers and muggles, the young and the less-young, and locals and visitors alike—although according to the creator, the “official” target population of the model railway is 11-year-olds.

We’re not going to spend too much time describing it here—best to simply take in the photos and hear from the creator, username Chooch, himself.

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The main railway line is about 120 feet long.

Chooch says the railway was already in place before the geocache listing was created. In fact, the project started out with just a seed of an idea. “Some twelve years ago I thought it would be neat if I could make my own trail which would connect with woods roads and walking paths into the town forest which abuts our property. In the process of working on the trail I came across a small brook which seemed to cry out for a little dam that would create a small waterfall. Of course there would need to be a bench nearby so that one could sit and listen to the waterfall.”

One thing led to another (and another), until eventually the spot had a whole table and sitting area. Perfect, Chooch says, for hosting “four people for cocktails.”

Rails wind snake-like through the woods.
Rails wind snake-like through the woods.

The inspiration for the model railway came from a train set his daughter placed under her Christmas Tree a few months later. Chooch thought a track of the same proportions would do well outside…and he knew just which outside that would be.

“Because of natural elevation changes at the site the obvious construction technique would be to build a trestle to run between the sitting area and the waterfall, which was about 80 feet.” This he did, and added in a few loops and stations along the way. The site came to be known as “Martini Junction”, and a little while later it was listed as a Letterbox Hybrid geocache.

The secure station where the train cars are kept.
The train cars themselves are safely stored in a locked station.
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Very official signage.

Chooch says the train station has been witness to special moments over the years.

“One afternoon, when starting out on our regular walk in the forest, my wife and I noticed what appeared to be a pink ribbon hanging on a tree. Not paying much attention to it we turned to follow the path which leads to the railway. Almost immediately we saw, hanging from a tree limb, the letter ‘R’ neatly cut from foam core, about 12” high and covered in pink paper. Somewhat surprised at this discovery I turned back to find that the pink ribbon, from this vantage was now the letter ‘P’. Puzzled, we continued and soon came upon another letter, this time an ‘O’, and still a little further along the letter ‘M’. Finally as we approached the sitting area there’s a “question mark” hanging from a branch and we saw a young man sitting alone with a bouquet of spring flowers with a rose in the center all wrapped up as a gift.”

Chooch and his wife introduced themselves and asked about the tree letters. “He tells us that a young woman is on her way and that he plans to invite her to the prom. Well. I was pretty impressed with all his effort and told him that if things didn’t work out he could take me to the prom.”

Chooch and the trains.
Chooch with the choo-choos.

Luckily, things did work out—at least in the short term that was the Prom. “We ran the train through its paces for them and as they were leaving, I asked the young man what he planned to do with the pink letters. He said he was giving them to the young lady. I noted that he probably didn’t need the ‘question mark’ any more and he was gracious enough to leave it with me. It’s since been added to a growing collection of memorabilia which include thank you notes and numerous drawings of the railroad made by young children who have come on field trips. It was so nice being witness to what seemed to be a little old-fashioned event and to see young people acting like young people.”

Without perspective, the tracks could *almost* be life-size.
Without perspective, the tracks could *almost* be life-size.

The cache has been found 866 times and garnered 361 favorite points. Parts of the site have expanded without Chooch’s help, as people add objects to create vignettes of their own.

Chooch approves of the additions. “Since the railway has reached the limit of its expansion potential the vignettes afford the chance to add to the scene from time to time. A recent addition has been a string of miniature telephone poles sans any wires. This presents as a ‘wireless’ network and even provides a local hot spot.”

Chooch is a retired design engineer and built the railway himself, but he isn’t too effusive about how it was constructed. In a previously published article, he wrote, “I realize as I put these words to paper that this story is pretty light on technical details. In truth there is not very much technology involved here. In fact I guess it’s more of a love story and as such may not even be appropriate for the pages of Garden Railways.”

But geocaching is all about love, so it’s perfect for here.

Photos:

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Martini Junction from the air.
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Mammoth crossing.
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Full steam ahead!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Chooch, left, demonstrates the railway for a visitor.
JiggitySquibs and mark their 2000th find at The Depot.
JiggitySquibs mark their 2000th find at The Depot.
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A side view of the stations, with the picnic area / cocktail bar in the background.
A young geocacher testing out the waterfall and waterwheel.
A young geocacher testing out the waterfall and waterwheel.
How big is this lookout tower really?
How big is this lookout tower really?
A vignette depicting the railway maker himself.
A vignette depicting the railway maker himself.

Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.
Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.

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