As a kid, it was fun to imagine yourself cascading through the open seas in a giant ship. You could almost feel the cool ocean breeze across your face, and your heart pounding against your chest as pirates trailed close behind. You were on a high sea adventure for a treasure trove of jewels, gold and other expensive things depicted in cartoons. The glow of the chest glistened in the blue sky, and quickly faded when you opened your eyes and realized it was all a day dream. But, what if it wasn’t all just a childhood daydream? What if there really was a treasure out there, waiting to be discovered? These were all thoughts accumulating in the mind of voyager and author Forrest Fenn, who decided to give the dreamers something to search for.
In 2010, the 85-year-old author decided to create something spectacular. He made a treasure—a treasure chest full of gold nuggets, jewelry, gem stones and other goodies—and hid it somewhere for adventurers to find. Along with the hidden treasure, Fenn created a 24-line poem in his book “The Thrill of the Chase”, which includes nine clues to help guide treasure hunters to his mysterious reward.
Many wondered what prompted the wealthy man to do such a thing, and he responded by saying he wanted to get people off of their couches. With the wealth of treasure, people could make an easier life for themselves, and they would become one with nature in the process.
Fenn explained, “I’ve had so much fun over the last 75 years looking for arrowheads and fossils and strange things out in the forests and along the river banks, why not give others the opportunity to do the same thing?”
The former Vietnam fighter pilot has only revealed that the 40-pound bronze chest is hidden among the Rocky Mountains, between Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Canadian border. It lies above 5,000 feet, and below 10,200 feet. The treasure is believed to be worth over $1 million, and it has prompted countless obsessive searches over the past six years.
So far, no one has been successful in finding the gold. Although, many have tried and failed.
This past January, 54-year-old Randy Bilyeu moved from Florida to Colorado, to dedicate his life to finding the treasure. Bilyeu believed the treasure was hidden near the Rio Grande, and set out on a raft with his dog to look for it. Sadly, the raft and dog were found 11 days later, and Bilyeu was missing. Fenn helped form a search party to find Bilyeu, but he still hasn’t been recovered. Many speculate that the treasure hunter drowned in the river.
While Fenn is happy that the treasure has garnered the interest of thousands, he understands the dangers that come with the search. He has warned, “We don’t want to get anybody else lost. Be prepared. Take a GPS. Take at least one other person with you. And wait [until] the snow and the ice melts.”
As thrill-seekers continue to risk their lives over the elusive treasure, many people claim they’ve already found it, or that they know exactly where it resides. But Fenn can assure that is not the case. He receives countless emails and calls asking for clues to the luxurious bounty, to which is refuses to answer.
However, the explorer has noted that the treasure is placed in an area that is easy for an older man (like himself) to maneuver around easily. He says, “Don’t look anywhere where a 79- or 80-year-old man can’t put something… I’m not that fit, I can’t climb 14,000 feet.”
Fenn is the only person who knows where the treasure is. Not even his wife knows where it is. So what happens if he dies and no one finds it? Fenn hasn’t made any plans regarding that, “I don’t want any arrangements. Somebody’s going to have to find it. If I was to tell anyone where it is, it would be my grandson. And I’m not going to tell him.”
He admits that some explorers have come very close to unearthing the gold. Some have even made it within 200 feet of the treasure, but Fenn would never tell them that.
To this day, the treasure remains hidden. Thousands of adventurers set out every day hoping to become the one to solve the mystery. If you’re interested in joining in on the fun, here are the final words to his poem. They might just lead you one step closer to becoming a millionaire:
“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.”