Madison is starting to get waymarked. Getting waymarked is not all that unusual. Since the offshoot of geocaching was launched, more than 54,000 waymarks have been established around the world.
Locking in Global Positioning System satellites, waymarkers record the latitude and longitude of their favorite sites and submit them to Waymarking.comtin any of 565 categories - ranging from AM/FM Radio Broadcasting Stations all the way through the alphabet (excepting X) to Zoos.
Photos of the location are encouraged, along with pertinent facts such as historical information, hours when the site is accessible and other details.
What's surprising is that Madison, for the most part, is being waymarked by people from out of town. Wisconsin's Capitol building was waymarked by a visitor from Clinton, Iowa, for example; the Art-o-Mat at Pop Deluxe on State Street by a student from Oshkosh; the historical markers identifying the Wisconsin Historical Society and the UW-Madison's North Hall by a geocaching enthusiast from Kenosha; and the fountain on the UW-Madison engineering campus by a visitor from Melbourne, Fla.
You'd think proud residents, tourism officials and local GPS enthusiasts would be breaking out their receivers to add Madison sites to the growing global scavenger hunt for interesting and useful locations.
Once approved by waymarking's community of peer reviewers, each new site is added to Waymarking.com's online database. Visitors to the Web site can search the database by category, by proximity to an address or zip code, or by using the Web site's Google Maps platform.
Once you've found a waymark that appeals to your interests, you can download its latitude and longitude to your GPS receiver and set off in search of it.
As a complement to the more familiar geocaching (in which participants use GPS receivers to seek small containers that are often hidden in intriguing places and filled with odds and ends and a small notebook in which finders can record the dates and times of their discoveries), waymarking renders a site itself as the subject of the scavenger hunt.
People can register their finds and post their comments and photos at Waymarking.com in the same way that geocachers can log on to Geocaching.com to record any caches they find.
With more than 435,000 caches established around the world, geocaching appears in little danger of being eclipsed by waymarking. There are 186 existing geocaches within a 10-mile radius of Wisconsin's Capitol building, for example.
The same area contains 20 waymarks established in 15 categories, including American Revolutionary War veteran graves, Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, independent coffee houses, libraries, off-leash dog areas, playgrounds, post offices, Wi-Fi hotspots and Wisconsin historical markers.
Extending the search radius to 25 miles - encompassing Black Earth, Cross Plains, Lake Mills, Mazomanie, Mount Horeb and New Glarus - produces 55 waymarking results and adds categories such as abandoned train tunnels, garage door art, ghost towns, the Ice Age Trail, lodge accommodations, outdoor mazes, time capsules, train depots, historic places on the U.S. register and zinc headstones.
Compared to the 287 geocaches established within 25 miles of the Capitol, 55 waymarks pales. But a scan of the categories at Waymarking.com suggests that within Madison's city limits, there could be at least one qualifying waymark in each of more than 200 categories - rendering Madison rich in waymarking potential.