Really, do treasure hunts exist outside of stories and movies? They really do, and it’s exactly how you’d imagine it. A man named Forrest Fenn hid a million dollar treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and wrote a poem with the clues to its location. Tens of thousands of people have trekked to find the treasure, and a few have lost their lives on the way.
Who exactly is Forrest Fenn?
Fenn is the ultimate eccentric rich man. Various sources describe him as a wealthy art dealer, a reclusive poet, purveyor of antiques, and an amateur archaeologist. Obviously, he used fly fighter jets. He’s been repeatedly referred to as Indiana Jones, which makes sense, because he might have robbed ancient burial sites.
In 2010, doctors were telling Fenn that his life was on its last leg, and that his chances of living out the year were slim. So he collects some of his most priceless artifacts (although, actually, they’ve been estimated between $1-2 million) and sticks them in a brass treasure chest and carries them to the woods. He writes a poem describing the spot, beginning like this:
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.
Now it’s 2017 and Fenn is still alive– considering his death-defying past, he’s probably the only one who’s surprised. But in the meantime, two men have lost their lives in the past two years alone, searching for the famed riches. With the most recent death, the police have gone on record in pleading old man Fenn to halt the hunt. In interviews, Fenn seems dismayed, but doesn’t have any intention of revealing the secrets of the hidden treasure.
Fenn has, however, added some safety tips, like how it’s pointless to look in the snow, and that you shouldn’t go anywhere a dying 80 year old man couldn’t hike to.
But where’s the gold?
We know that the chest contains “20 troy pounds of gold coins, gold nuggets the size of a man’s fist, pre-Columbian Incan and Mayan animal figures, a 17th-century Spanish gold-and-emerald ring, a bracelet with more than 250 rubies, diamonds and Ceylon sapphires, and two hand-carved Chinese jade masks.”
Key clues show up in the next stanza:
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
TBH, the whole poem is frustratingly vague. The canyon is often thought to have something to do with the Rio Grande gorge, near the tail end of the Rocky Mountains. But I’m really wondering, who’s Brown??
“Sure, I’m eccentric,” Fenn told NPR. “I pride myself on being eccentric. I don’t want to go down the center line like a lot of people do.” Can he tell us something we don’t know? Like some more clues?
Check out the poem and the map below. But if you decide to go to the woods, seriously, don’t be stupid and make sure you’re prepared.