If you can decipher the clues in this poem, you’ll find a treasure worth $2 million
The eccentric millionaire has been offered bribes and gotten death threats. Yet, he holds steadfast, as this remarkable treasure hunt stands as his legacy.
Forest Fenn led an adventurous life. So when it came time to secure his legacy, he devised a modern-day treasure hunt the likes of which are usually reserved for mavericks, outlaws, and pirates. The 80-something year-old millionaire buried a treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, most likely between Wyoming and Colorado, although it could be anywhere from Montana to New Mexico. It’s filled with gold, jewels, and impressive artifacts, estimated to be worth about two million dollars.
The mystery’s progenitor has provided a poem full of clues for anyone who has the brains, the heart, and the gumption to search for it. Thousands have tried and two have died, as clues—which look simple on the surface, quickly grow maddeningly difficult to decipher. Fenn, now 87, was a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. Afterward, he became an amateur archeologist, self-taught, and set up a shop selling artifacts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"I love antiques, particularly American Indian," he told NPR. One of his most prized possessions that once graced his collection was Sitting Bull’s peace pipe. He even once purchased an entire pueblo. In the ‘90s Fenn fell into controversy over it. Other Southwestern archeologists, criticizing how he’d excavated the pueblo site, called him a plunderer. Fenn, a self-described treasure hunter, dismissed them, and the controversy died down.
After building a name and reputation, he began to sell artifacts to prominent politicians and movers and shakers in Hollywood. His list of clients included Gerald Ford, Jacqueline Kennedy, Cher, Steve Martin, and Steven Speilberg. He earned millions and had everything he ever wanted. But there are some things out of the reach of money. In 1988, tragedy struck when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Fenn planned to hall the treasure chest up into the mountains to have with him at his final resting place. Instead, he beat the cancer, then began contemplating his legacy.
He wrote his autobiography called, The Thrill of the Chase. It in, he extends to the reader an invitation to share his enjoyment of treasure hunting by proposing his own. In the book, he’s written a poem filled with clues that will lead to the 10-by-10-by-6 inch treasure chest. The ornate Romanesque box weighs about 40 lbs., and contains a gold frog 1,200-1,500 years-old, gold nuggets the size of hen’s eggs, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pre-Columbian jewelry, an impressive jaguar’s claw, and a Ming jade carving, along with a copy of his book.
Read the poem here:
Interpretation is the problem. For instance, is "Where warm waters halt,” a hot spring or where two rivers converge? Other angles have been proposed as well. How about “home of Brown?” Is this a brown bear’s den? But brown is capitalized. Is it then, the home of someone named Brown? Other clues are even more confusing, like “no paddle up your creek,” or “If you’re wise and found the blaze…”
Blaze usually denotes a marker. But perhaps here, Fenn’s being metaphorical. He said in an interview with NPR that not enough people pay attention to the first clue. In other interviews, he’s said the first four clues have been cracked, and at least one person has been within a few hundred feet of the chest.
Fenn says some 65,000 people have gone looking for the treasure. Thousands still today pour over clues Fenn’s given in blog postings and interviews over the years. They also share tips and theories in their own blogs, and on Facebook and Reddit pages.
Fenn has said that the treasure is the Rocky Mountains and 5,000 ft. above sea level, but below 10,200 ft. It’s thought to be in a wooded area full of pine trees somewhere off the beaten path. It isn’t in a mine or any human structure. It may be in a natural one, like a cave. But that could be anywhere along the Rockies. He’s also said it’s in a place that he at his advanced age, can still get to.
Credit: The Thrill of the Chase, Twitter.
Two men actually died searching for the treasure. Pastor Paris Wallace, age 52, of Grand Junction, Colo. lost his life last year in search of the gold, while 54 year-old Randy Bilyeu, of Broomfield, Colo., died the year before. For the former, Fenn actually rented a helicopter and went out looking for the man. As a result of these tragedies, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas asked Fenn to call off his treasure hunt, but Fenn refused. Instead, the eccentric millionaire says people should go in the warmer months, when it isn’t muddy or treacherous. Take the necessary precautions while outdoors, too. But even the most seasoned outdoorsman can find the Rockies hazardous, which is why one should always go with a buddy.
Fenn gets hundreds of emails a day asking for clues. He won’t give out any, so don’t ask. He’s also received threats and been offered bribes. And he’s had to call 9-1-1 three times, for intruders poking around his property. One man got arrested in front of the octogenarian’s house for harassment. Some even say, the whole thing is a hoax. But those who know him say the treasure is legit. “Somebody could find it this summer, or it could be a thousand years,” Fenn said.
For most of Fenn's treasure hunters, it’s been a positive experience, something that’s got them giddy for adventure, a chance to unplug and be a part of treasure hunting history. It's also helped many to witness beautiful scenery they may have otherwise missed. And that’s what Fenn wanted to do all along, inspire people to trek out into the wilderness and come to appreciate it. “I’ve had so much fun over the last 75 years,” he told People, “looking for arrowheads and fossils and strange things out in the forests and along the river banks, why not give others the opportunity to do the same thing?”
To learn more about Fenn’s treasure, click here:
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.