When someone’s biography states that he was former military pilot, survival school graduate, artifacts dealer and author, you know he’s going to be an awesome person. In 2010, Forest Fenn, who is all of the above from Santa Fe, wrote a poem illustrating the location of a hidden treasure.
The treasure poem appeared in an autobiography Fenn wrote in 2010 “The Thrill of the Chase”. According to the author, it is located probably somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The treasure itself weighs 42 pounds – 20 the chest itself and another 22 the treasure estimated to be worth $2 million.
Deaths on the trail.
Treasure hunts make excellent movies and TV series, but in real life, they are a dangerous business. Sadly, Fenn’s treasure hunt is no different. Since it began, two treasure hunters have lost their lives, and numerous others have had narrow escapes. On 14 June 2017, pastor Paris Wallace, aged 52 from Colorado was found dead after going missing four days earlier. 18 months prior to that, Randy Bilyeu, a 54 year old adventurer from Colorado dropped a raft into the Rio Grande and died.
The two deaths have spawned public outcry for Fenn to stop the hunt. New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas asked Fenn to stop the hunt all together or reveal more clues Linda Bilyeu, Randy Bilyeu’s widow sent a statement to AP via email:
“Another family is left to grieve and carry on without their loved ones. Only one man has the power to stop the madness. Yet, he continues to pretend he’s doing a good deed by getting people off the couch and into nature.”
Yet Paris Wallace’s wife stated that the family searched for the treasure together and “Our treasure is that time we spend together,” she said to AP. Other supporters have coaxed him to continue, including Santa Fe mayor who proclaimed a “Thrill of the Chase Day” in 2015 recognizing of the hunt’s contribution to Santa Fe’s tourism.
The treasure hunt generated an annual Fennboree campers gathering at Hyde Memorial State Park, two documentary films and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. The New Mexico Department of Tourism produced a video about the search as well and published it on a state website.
The Author’s Stance
Fen has reacted with strong emotions to the two deaths, and in Randy Bilyeu’s case even hired a private chopper to assist the search mission. After Bilyeu’s death, Fen articulated that the Rio Grande isn’t in the Rocky Mountains, so searchers, should avoid the perils of searching there. Recently, after Wallace’s death, Fen warned searchers that the treasure is not hidden on private or tribal land and cemeteries, and searchers should avoid looking there. Additionally, the treasure is located where an 80 year old man can reach by himself.
One of the reasons Fen opposes terminating the search is that he can’t dig up the treasure by himself anymore. According to the hype around the hunt, unless he digs out the treasure himself, the hunt will persist.
While some papers call for the hunt to continue, others have posed the question is Fen liable for the two deaths and endless close calls. Others try to deter searchers by stating that treasure hunting is a long shot at best. Fen claims that the deaths haven’t deterred seekers, but actually rekindled interest in the hunt.
Those who oppose the hunt claim that Fen is keeping the hunt alive for royalties from his book, but in reality, since it’s publication the book sold 22,000 copies. Fen sold only the first 1000 copies and then turned the rights over to Collected books who donate 10% of the profits to support cancer patients.
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.
The Treasure is hidden higher than 5000 feet above sea level.
No need to dig up the old outhouses, the treasure in not associated with any structure.
The treasure is not in a graveyard.
The treasure is not hidden in Idaho or Utah.
The Treasure is NOT in a mine.
Good Luck, and be careful!