Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure attracted puzzle fans from all over the world. Now, three months after the end of the hunt, Fenn has passed away.
Since I started writing this blog in 2013, I covered US millionaire Forrest Fenn and the treasure he allegedly hid somewhere in the Rocky Moutains in half a dozen posts. The article you are reading at the moment is again about Fenn, but this one might be the last. The treasure was reportedly found earlier this year and last Monday Forrest Fenn died (thanks to Elonka Dunin and Bill Briere for informing me about this news).
Deceased at age 90
According to press reports, Fenn deceased of natural causes aged 90 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Fenn, a war veteran, art collector, and author, in 2010 said that he had hidden a treasure somewhere in the mountains – prompting thousands of people to search for it. Fenn said he hid the treasure to tempt people to get into the wilderness and give them a chance to launch an old-fashioned adventure and expedition for riches.
In a six-stanza poem, Fenn gave clues to the location of the hidden treasure:
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.
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.
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.
Though the messages hidden in this poem are not cryptography in the narrow sense, many crypto enthusiasts became interested in this mystery and tried to solve it. My blog posts about the Fenn treasure attracted a considerable number of readers.
One of my Fenn posts was about Austrian film makers Richard Haderer and Bernhard Vosicky…
…, who produced a crowdfunded documentary about their struggle to find the treasure. Here’s the trailer:
To my regret, I haven’t seen this film yet. Perhaps, a reader can tell me where it can be watched.
Among the treasure seekers were blog reader Bill Briere (he was also an extremely helpful proof-reader of my latest book) and his wife Jew-Lee Lann-Briere. Bill thankfully published a short report on this trip as a comment to one of my articles.
Christof Rieber, another reader of this blog, wrote: “I was in Montana, searching for it [the treasure], pretty close I guess but it didn’t work out. Would love to know where it has been.”
While my blog readers regarded the treasure hunt as a nice spare time activity, others quit their jobs and used up their savings in order to find the hidden fortune. According to media reports, four people died while searching for the treasure. The authorities asked Fenn to stop the challenge, but to no avail.
Did the treasure really exist?
Only in June 2020, the hunt was finally over, when Forrest Fenn told a local newspaper that his treasure had now been found somewhere in Wyoming. He was quoted: “The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned. He’s from back East.” Fenn said that a photograph the man sent to him served as proof for his success.
Meanwhile, there has been some doubt whether the treasure really existed. Forrest Fenn did not reveal the place where it had been hidden. Nothing is known about the person who allegedly found it. No photograph of the treasure has been published (the treasue shown in the title photograph of this post is not the real one, of course), nor did Fenn publish the hidden meaning of his cryptic poem. All in all, there is no proof that the story about the hidden gold and jewels is more than a hoax.
On the other hand, Fenn certainly had the money to hide a real treasure. According to blog reader Bill Briere, organizing such a hunting game would be consistent with Fenn’s character, which is revealed in his autobiographical books The Thrill of the Chase and Too Far to Walk.
Now that Forrest Fenn has died, we may never learn the truth.
Further reading: Six hidden treasures that are described in encrypted messages (1)