Good news: you don’t have to be aboard a pirate ship to search for hidden treasure. Instead, you can find treasure anywhere, even in the Rocky Mountains. For the past decade, brave individuals have searched the mountain range for a treasure chest containing gold, jewels, and other valuables worth more than $1 million. They kept searching, but it seemed like they would never be able to find their prize.
However, in June 2020, the search finally came to an end when a man found the treasure near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The search is over, but how did the man find the valuable jewels? Who put them in the Rockies in the first place? This might encourage you to grab a metal detector and start searching for items near your home. You never know what you might find.
Starting the Search
The search began in 2010 when art and antiquities collector Forrest Fenn shared on his website that he was placing a treasure chest containing gold, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and other items somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The object of the game was to solve clues in order to find the mystery item.
The clues were included in a 24-line poem published in Fenn’s 2010 autobiography The Thrill of the Chase. If people studied the poem, they could figure out the treasure’s location. However, it took people nearly 10 years to figure out where the treasure chest was located. Perhaps it was harder for them to crack the code than Fenn originally anticipated.
“It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago,” Fenn shared in an announcement on his website, declaring that the search was officially complete. He added, “I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot.”
About the Treasure
Fern estimated that approximately 350,000 individuals searched and scavenged across the Rocky Mountains for the treasure chest. People traveled to the mountain range from all over the world, with some even quitting their jobs to fully devote themselves to the search. Unfortunately, some individuals also died during the search.
Fenn, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, packed and repacked the treasure chest for more than a decade. He sprinkled more gold dust and added hundreds of rare gold coins and gold nuggets. For more fun, he also included pre-Columbian animal figures, prehistoric “mirrors” of hammered gold, ancient Chinese faces carved from jade, and other antique jewelry. In total, the chest weighed 20 pounds and it took Fenn two trips to hide the chest by himself.
Fenn knew people risked their lives (and some lost their lives) to complete the search. Braving the harsh weather climates in the Rockies wasn’t an easy task. He commented, “I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries.”
Finding the Treasure
In June 2020, an unidentified man found the treasure chest, which was a pleasant surprise for Fenn. He knows the man lives on the East coast and the discovery was confirmed when the man sent a photograph to Fenn with the treasure chest.
“I feel halfway kind of glad [that the treasure was found], halfway kind of sad because the chase is over,” Fenn said. He knew the precious treasure would entice people’s interest in the search, and it was fun for him to watch and read people’s comments as they tried to complete the scavenger hunt.
At its core, the goal of this adventure was Fenn’s hope to inspire people to get into the wilderness. He encouraged people to become more aware of their surroundings and to fall in love with nature. In addition, he wanted others to have fun with an old-fashioned adventure and expedition for precious finds. Be on the lookout if he decides to start another adventure.
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