Letterboxing Comes to Weston: A Treasure Hunt for Local History
The Weston Historical Society has joined with seven other area historical organizations to offer an exciting family adventure called the “Great Letterboxing History Hunt.” The event begins on May 3 and ends on May 18 with a festive family get-together at the Wilton Historical Society from 4-5 p.m. Participation is free.
“Letterboxing is a treasure hunt for history,” said Dallas Kersey, Weston Historical Society president. “It is a wonderful family activity that combines the elements of a scavenger hunt, map reading, puzzle solving, and the uncovering of local history.”
The event is a collaboration between the Fairfield Museum and History Center, Historical Society of Easton, Ridgefield’s Keeler Tavern Museum, and the historical societies of New Canaan, Norwalk, Weston, Westport and Wilton. Information on the event can be found at the Wilton Historical Society’s website, www.wiltonhistorical.org. Addresses and links for each of the historical organizations, plus downloadable maps and clues, are available online. Maps are also available at each of the historical societies.
This is how letterboxing works: participants carry with them a “signature” stamp that clears identifies them (a special icon, initial, or picture carved in the stamp), along with an inkpad and the official Letterboxing History Hunt Map. (Note: unusual stamps and DIY stamp carving kits are available at the Wilton Historical Society’s Betts Store.) Starting at any one of the historical societies, the object is to follow clues to find a letterbox hidden on the property. Inside the letterbox will be a journal and a stamp. Like a passport, the participant stamps the location stamp on his/her official Letterboxing History Hunt Map, and in turn stamps the journal in the letterbox with their signature stamp. Participants have two weeks, from May 3-May 18, to go on the Great Letterboxing History Hunt.
Participants who stamp their official map at all eight locations will be entered into a drawing for a wonderful grand prize. Prizes will be awarded at the Wilton Historical Society get-together on Sunday, May 18. (Do not forget to bring your fully stamped map!) A fun, family event, there will be refreshments and live music with Leigh Richards on acoustic guitar.
Begin your adventure at the Weston Historical Society’s Coley Homestead, 104 Weston Road. There participants will find guides/clue books (to be stamped) in a hanging box on the fence by the “Country Garden” near the parking lot.
According to legend, letterboxing began in southwestern England in 1854 when a Victorian gentleman named James Perrott hid his calling card in a jar in a remote area by Cranmere Pool on the moors of Dartmoor (the setting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles). Perrot, a guide on the moors, encouraged clients to leave their cards in the jar, as well. Eventually, visitors began leaving a self-addressed post card or note in the jar, hoping for them to be returned by mail by the next visitor.
Letterboxing was popularized in the U. S. in 1998, when an article in Smithsonian prompted interest. Estimates are that there are now more than 22,000 letterboxes hidden in the U.S., of which Connecticut has the largest number of any state, where they can be found in all 32 state forests.