The Outside World The Unsolved Mystery Of Fenn’s Treasure Published 8 months ago on Jun 25, 2018 By Michael Berdy Hundreds of thousands of people scour online forums, publish videos with theories, and set out into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. They are hanging on the every word of one mysterious old man, who claims he’s hidden something incredible, a fortune beyond their wildest imagination. The odds are staggering. He’s left very few details for his treasure seekers. And there is nothing to prove the treasure is even real — other than his own word. Who is this character? What’s he hidden, and what’s the reason for it? What’s making so many people risk their lives to brave the mountain wilderness? Read on to find out. 1. Rocky Mountain High It has been told that somewhere in a 1,000 mile expanse high in the Rocky Mountains, stretching from Santa Fe, New Mexico all the way to the northern border with Canada, there may be a treasure chest, containing a fabulous amount of wealth. abcnews.go.com Although some of the items contained within are ancient, the chest was hidden far more recently, by a unique character who envelops himself in mysteries. The riches have attracted adventurers and thrill-seekers from all across the world — and with good reason. 2. Gold And Gems Galore Though there are many untold secrets surrounding this mass of riches, one key detail is what keeps the search for this hidden chest going: its contents. According to the man who hid it, like Aladdin’s cave, the chest is brimming with riches beyond imagination. Dal Neitzel Inside are Chinese jade, pre-Columbian gold figurines, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. There are pounds upon pounds of gold, whether in gold nuggets, gold coins, or even ancient gold artifacts. So who did these precious stones belong to? And why on Earth would their owner part ways with them? 3. The Pilot Forrest Fenn is a collector, a unique and unusual personality. Born in 1930, his story begins in Texas, where he grew up. Fresh out of high school, he joined the military, and made a career for himself in the US Air Force. Dal Neitzel But Fenn’s involvement in the military would take him overseas, deep into the thick of the Vietnam War. Fourteen hours a day, he flew a bomber plane, dropping 22-pound bombs on Viet Cong positions. And the transition from peacetime service to the strain of war would take its toll. 4. Gimme Shelter In just less than a year, Forrest Fenn, now a major in the Air Force, flew 328 combat missions in Southeast Asia. It was a grueling schedule at the very heart of the violence, and far more emotionally and physically demanding than anything he could have imagined. Fenn’s plane was shot down twice. He even went missing in action in the jungles of Laos, in a secret war the world couldn’t know about. Things were escalating out of control. The man who had given long years of his life serving his country was worn out. 5. A Veteran Returns In recognition of his service, the US military awarded Forrest Fenn the Silver Star, but he had had enough. The war had exhausted him, and left him shaken. He decided to leave the military and returned home to America. But he needed to switch directions, drastically. Dal Neitzel This Vietnam veteran wanted to live where he didn’t have to wear a suit and adhere to the norms and conventions of his time. He craved a sense of belonging to a place where he could march to the beat of his own drum. What would he find there? 6. The Land Of Enchantment Leaving the scars of war behind, Fenn built a new life for himself in New Mexico, where he felt most free. There, he forged a path that was completely different than his previous career, and tried his luck at the art business. The Thrill of the Chase Fenn opened The Old Santa Fe Trading Company and became a big collector and dealer of art, antiques, and curios, gathering pieces from all across the world. He had struck gold. He began to amass a fortune — and one day it would become legendary. 7. Fame And Fortune Forrest Fenn’s antiques business had become a massive success. News of this humble war veteran in the deserts of the Southwest made it all the way to Hollywood, where celebrities with money were eager to buy art. Fenn became an arts dealer to the stars. Pinterest Fenn sold art to famous celebrities like Cher, Steve Martin, and Steven Spielberg. He even had as his clients political figures such as Jackie Kennedy and President Gerald Ford. His business made him a millionaire. But the most incredible chapter of his life was yet to be written. 8. The Collector’s Base Forrest Fenn’s home is a living reflection of his decades of collecting. Among items that have been in his vast array of treasures are a peace pipe smoked by Sitting Bull, and a mummified falcon from the tomb of Tutankhamun. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. cnbc.com Fenn’s own house is like a museum, with objects of unbelievable historical and monetary value everywhere you look. There’s Blackfeet daggers, scores of Persian rugs, troves of rare books. And then there’s the precious stones. Fenn had a dizzying amount of gems. Having such plenty gave him an amazing idea. 9. The Treasure Chest Somewhere between 2009 and 2010, Forrest Fenn prepared a chest for a secret mission. Scooping out of his arsenal of glittering gold, diamonds, and precious stones, Fenn filled the chest to capacity. Though just ten by ten inches, it weighed forty pounds. YouTube Even the chest itself was chosen carefully so as to be bold and elegant in its own right. Made of bronze decorated in Romanesque style, it dated back to the 12th century. Now that it was overflowing with treasure, what was he planning to do with it? 10. A Mission To Nowhere Forrest Fenn carried the box to his car, and drove away from home. He didn’t tell a soul where he was headed — not even his wife for the past six decades, Peggy. He headed out of Santa Fe and made his way north. mapio.net His journey took him into the Rocky Mountains. Since Fenn’s childhood, he had learned to navigate many trails in their wilderness. His knowledge of the range was his greatest advantage. Wherever he was headed, only he would know. What he would do next would create a national sensation. 11. Into The Wild The location of the site Fenn had chosen would go with him to his grave. He took a second trip into the wild with a backpack, heaving with more gold coins. There, somewhere in the vast expanse of the Rocky Mountains, he buried the treasure chest. MHG Fenn returned home to Santa Fe. Without explanation, he had taken an impressive, dazzling amount of his own fortunes and hidden it away. But he had a clear reason for going on his mysterious mission. And the world was about to find out. 12. Positive Message Against the backdrop of Fenn’s strange journey, he was propelled by the situation in America at the time. It was the “Great Recession”, and all around him, Fenn saw people losing their jobs and beginning to despair. He couldn’t fix the economy — but he could change people’s lives. The Daily Beast Through all the troubles, Fenn recognized an opportunity to help people. He wanted to create a mystery, something unique, a sense of excitement for people who so badly needed it. But he’d had this idea for a while. And it had its origins in a painful memory. 13. Of Treasure And Tragedy In 1988, many years before he went into the Rockies with a chest loaded with treasure, Fenn was going to do the same thing– but with very different reasons. He had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, and the doctors had told him it was terminal. kob.com The diagnosis left Forrest Fenn with no hope. It was then that he filled his bronze chest with his treasures. He planned to take it alone into the mountains, to disappear from society and to die with the chest at his side. But life had a way of surprising him. 14. A Changed Life To his great surprise, Forrest Fenn’s cancer went into remission. Thankfully, he survived his illness. It was an astonishing about-face, and a happy one. But what would happen to the bronze medieval chest that he had packed with his joys in his time of great sorrow? cnbc.com Fenn’s treasure remained stored away in a massive vault inside his home for more than two decades, until he finally decided to bury it. Friends of his have become witnesses, confirming that they had seen it and it was overflowing with jewels. Those witnesses would be key. 15. Creating Joy Once, Fenn’s treasure chest had represented one of the lowest points in his life. Now, he had found a new purpose for it, one that was not for himself but for others, not to highlight his pain but to spread joy and wonder. Dal Neitzel It was with these kind intentions that he buried the chest at an undisclosed location in the Rocky Mountains, and in so doing, initiated the great treasure hunt of the modern age. Then, word of the possibility of finding a real-life gold mine began to spread. 16. The Legend Begins At first, it started off as a local myth, this legend of hidden treasure somewhere north of Santa Fe. Fenn intentionally kept as quiet as possible on the subject, preferring to build the mystery. And his plan worked. More and more thrill-seekers became interested in finding Fenn’s treasure. Marketwatch But sheer excitement itself was not enough. Nobody knew exactly where the treasure was, but they knew it was in the Rocky Mountains. To narrow the search, Fenn needed to at least point his adventurers toward the right direction. He had to drop some clues. 17. Clues All this time, Air Force veteran and master art dealer Forrest Fenn had been busy adding another title to his life story: author. Two of his books were memoirs, entitled The Thrill of the Chase and Too Far to Walk. But they were more than just a reflection. International Opulence Magazine Now, Fenn’s treasure seekers had something to pore over, analyzing his every word for possible hints. He sprinkled clues into his books about the location of the treasure, but as always, he remained as cryptic as he possibly could. Then his fans found the map. 18. Where Is It? The Rocky Mountains are one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. To merely tell the quickly-growing, captivated audience of amateur explorers that Fenn’s treasure was somewhere north of Santa Fe wasn’t close to enough. So Fenn focused the range of the search. CBS Denver According to a map towards the end of his book The Thrill of the Chase, Fenn hid the chest in the eastern Rockies. Now the treasure seekers know it’s either in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, or Montana. But that’s an immense distance to travel! What other details would Fenn provide? 19. The Perplexing Poem On his Instagram account, Fenn published the map from the end of The Thrill of the Chase. On the map was a 24-verse poem, partially about Fenn himself, but also containing instructions. It was the greatest reveal the people looking for Fenn’s treasure were ever going to get. fftreasure.com According to Fenn’s commentary about his cryptic poem, he had placed different clues into the text. But the words were so vague! It was incredibly difficult to decipher, leading to a clash of interpretations and theories. Maybe if they asked him for more information, he’d give more clues? 20. Deliberately Difficult As it turns out, asking Fenn for help isn’t likely to change anything. If he’s the expert at giving vague clues, then it should come as no surprise that he excels at giving very vague answers. He likes playing with words and flipping people’s questions. Rural Home Don’t ask if his treasure is close to his home, or he’ll just ask what you mean by ‘close’, because distance is relative. No one is going to just stumble upon the treasure. They have to follow the clues. But that doesn’t stop people from getting seriously carried away. 21. Intruders With every treasure hunt come bandits. Desperate to find Fenn’s treasure, random strangers have shown up at Fenn’s own front door begging him for clues. And sometimes they’re not quite so polite. He has had to call the police on multiple occasions. Today It’s become so heated that Fenn even received a death threat over the phone from an obsessed treasure seeker who demanded answers. And Fenn isn’t the only one to experience the flip side of the treasure hunt. Unfortunately, some of the hikers have forgotten Fenn’s original goals. 22. For The Thrill Of It All The entire purpose of searching for Fenn’s treasure, at least the way he sees it, is just to have fun. He wants people to remember that obviously it’s incredible to find treasure, but perhaps the most important part is the journey itself. Vox Fenn wants to get families outdoors to disconnect from their electronic devices, to fish and birdwatch, to find animals and fossils. He’s excited for the activities people will engage in on the way, and the memories they will create. But for some, the quest would bear dire consequences. 23. Dark Side Unfortunately, four people have died during their determined search for Fenn’s treasure — one had even gone missing for half a year. The authorities were obviously not pleased. In their eyes, Fenn had endangered lives by spurring the treasure hunt in the first place. On Queue Because of the deaths, New Mexico State Police chief Pete Kassetas went to the press with a stern message to Forrest Fenn. He requested from Fenn to officially declare to all the explorers that the quest was over. Fenn was in a bind. What would he do? 24. Dangers Of The Quest Fenn chose not to call off the quest. He didn’t want to ruin the mystery. But he did scatter some additional clues in his blog, details that might help keep treasure hunters more safe. He insisted to his followers to not go into the mountains in wintertime. Vox Fenn had meant no harm when he set out with creating the adventure. He even joined in on the search for one of the missing persons, paying $9,000 to fund additional helicopters to help find him. Despite it all, the treasure hunters kept on setting out. 25. The Quest Lives On The search for Fenn’s treasure has gained a life of its own. It has generated several blogs and subreddits devoted to sharing theories and clues, as well as comparing experiences — and each page has thousands of followers. Fenn himself gets about 100 emails each day on average. Santa Fe New Mexican More than a quarter million people have ventured into the Rocky Mountains to find Fenn’s treasure. And despite the webpages, these obsessed thrill-seekers can’t help one another too much. After all, each person wants to be the first one to find the treasure! And one woman says she has. 26. Found? Fenn is notoriously a man of few words, wrapping each careful word choice in mystery and confusion. It’s all up to interpretation. So could it be that the treasure isn’t real? What if it’s not something physical? One woman is convinced that this is actually the case. Mysterious Writings She claims that Fenn’s clues led her not to a cave, nor a forbidding forest, but to the Christ of the Mines Shrine in Silverton, Colorado. Confident in her discovery, she declared the search over, saying the treasure is spiritual. But Fenn has never been there! So where could it be? 27. Price Tag Just the mere thought of a treasure chest overflowing with gold and jewels has been enough to get hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to try their luck on the slopes of the Rockies. But what’s the actual worth of Fenn’s treasure? Amazing Zone Even Fenn himself can’t say the exact worth, because many items would have to pass an appraisal. Based off the descriptions of the items that Fenn gave, his treasure is estimated by the New Mexico Tourism Department to be worth around $2 million! So what does it all mean? 28. Important Points In addition to the map, Fenn has made several crucial clarifications about the location of his treasure. It’s hidden higher than 5,000 feet above sea level. It is at bare minimum 8.25 miles north of Santa Fe. And Fenn has dropped some hints about the hiding place itself. Mysterious Writings Because people have damaged property in the search, Fenn has stipulated it’s not in an outhouse, nor is it hidden inside a building. He’s said it’s not associated with any kind of structure – and even that led people to overanalyze his word choice! But one thing stands above all. 29. Key Notes More than anything else he’s shared — and there’s not much to work with — Fenn says that the poem from his book is the key. In an interview with Business Insider, he instructed his followers to read his poem again, and to study maps of the Rocky Mountains. news.com.au The rest of Fenn’s messages have been safety guidelines. He claims the answer to his riddle lies in the cross-section between the information in his poem and the map of the area. He continues to emphasize his original reasons for hiding it. And he has one last, exciting message. 30. So Close And Yet So Far Even though he won’t reveal any more hints about the treasure, Forrest Fenn doesn’t want people to lose hope. It’s still out there, he says, and for all he knows, it could still be there in 10,000 years. But actually, it could be much closer than we think. Santa Fe New Mexican Fenn has offered an incredibly tantalizing statement that has left his followers’ heads spinning. He’s said that some explorers have come within 200 feet of the treasure! So who knows? The challenge of the adventure may well be worth it — and treasure may yet be right at our fingertips! Enjoyed this story? Don’t forget to SHARE it with your adventure-seeking friends! Sources: DalNeitzel, Business Insider, Millionaire Hides Treasure UP NEXT Gunsmoke: Top Facts Behind The Longest-Lived Show on Television... 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