Treasure Hunt

June 9, 2020
Ellen Nam with AP reporting
FENN'S TREASURE Forrest Fenn stands in his home full of antiques and artifacts.
LUIS SÁNCHEZ SATURNO—SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN/AP

For years, thousands have traveled to the Rocky Mountains in search of hidden treasure. Adventurers were on the hunt for a bronze chest. It was said to be filled with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gold. On June 6, news broke that the chest was finally found. The person who found it has chosen to remain unidentified.

Forrest Fenn is an antiques collector. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Fenn created the treasure hunt more than 10 years ago. He hoped it would inspire people to have fun and explore nature.

Fenn received a picture confirming that the chest had been found. “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,” he announced on his website.

Fenn published an autobiography in 2010. It’s called The Thrill of the Chase. In the book, he dropped hints about where the treasure chest was located. The clues were in a form of a 24-verse poem. Readers had to use the poem to solve the puzzle.

“Begin it where warm waters halt,” reads one verse, “and take it in the canyon down.” This led many explorers down dangerous roads in search of the chest’s location. A few people even died in the attempt.

What’s Inside?

The jewel-filled chest is estimated to be worth more than $1 million. In 2017, Fenn told a local newspaper that the chest weighs 20 pounds and the contents weigh 22 pounds. It took him two trips to bring everything to the hiding spot.

For a decade, Fenn added new items to the chest. Animal figures, prehistoric “mirrors” of hammered gold, and ancient jade carvings are some of the unique treasures that were in the mix of jewels.

Fenn says the end of the hunt is bittersweet. “I feel halfway kind of glad, halfway kind of sad because the chase is over,” he says. “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.”