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In one of my recent Get Rich Slowly staff posts, I wrote about Forrest Fenn and his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase. My post, titled “Want to get rich quick? Start looking for hidden treasure” included details about the treasure hunt currently taking place in the mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It also included parts of my interview with the modern day “Indiana Jones.” In case you haven’t heard about everything that’s going on, here are some basic details of the real-life adventure that is currently unfolding:
A Little Background on the Story
Ever since Forrest Fenn revealed that he had hidden a treasure chest worth an estimated $2 million in the mountains north of Santa Fe, much of America’s southwest has been in a frenzy. In fact, thousands of people have descended on the area, all of them hoping to strike it rich. If you watch the news, you may have heard about the eccentric millionaire who came up with the idea and sacrificed his own gold, collectibles and artifacts to bring his treasure hunt dream to fruition. You even may have heard about the best-selling memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, detailing his adventures and giving clues to the location of the treasure. Sound too good to be true? The modern-day Indiana Jones remains adamant that his story of hidden riches is 100 percent the real deal.
So, why would anyone give away millions of dollars of their hard-earned wealth? And beyond that, why would they hide it for someone else to find? The answers are as complex as the quirky millionaire himself. Funny, sarcastic, and always joking, Forrest Fenn has an overabundance of explanations as to why he did what he did.
Who is Forrest Fenn?
According to his memoir, Forrest was raised poor in Temple, Texas. Although his family never had much money, they spent their summers chasing adventures in Yellowstone National Park. Forrest never went to college. Instead, he married his high school sweetheart, Peggy Jean Proctor. According to his book, Forrest soon joined the Air Force where he encountered the greatest adventures of his lifetime. During his stint as a fighter pilot the war in southeast Asia, his plane was shot down twice — once in Vietnam and once in Laos. His military records tell the story of a decorated war hero who earned a Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, 16 Air Medals, and a Purple Heart.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1970, Forrest Fenn moved to Santa Fe, N.M., hoping to start a new life. With little experience, he started an art gallery with Peggy and sold the finest antiques and artifacts to famous stars like Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Michael Douglas. Since he had been always been interested in history and the outdoors, Fenn acquired lands surrounding Sante Fe where he digs for artifacts and excavates Native American historical sites to this day. Forrest Fenn has lived a life jam-packed with adventure, and he wants you to enjoy the same thrill and excitement that he has experienced throughout his life. According to Fenn, that’s one of the reasons he hid the treasure in the first place.
Get Rich Slowly, June 27, 2013
Mr. Fenn also wrote a cryptic poem that includes hidden clues about the treasure’s whereabouts. Tens of thousands of people have studied every word of it in the hopes of finding some hidden meaning or translation that will lead them to the treasure.
Where the Treasure Lies By Forrest Fenn
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.
For the interview, Mr. Fenn said that he would answer five questions. Since then, we’ve exchanged some emails and I’ve found that he’s quite a character. He also mailed me a copy of his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase. (For additional resources, make sure to check out Dal Neitzel.com, a blog completely dedicated to the search for the treasure)
Five Questions with Forrest Fenn
Holly: I’ve read that one of the reasons you hid the treasure was to encourage people, especially kids, to get outdoors and look for adventure. Is that true? If so, can you elaborate on that?
Forrest: We have a problem in this country with our youth; obesity, drive by shootings, disrespect and much more. I would like get those kids out of the game room, off the couch and out where they can smell the sunshine. The teens today will be our leaders in 15 years and we as a country are not preparing them adequately for that day
Holly: Some people have been skeptical about whether you actually hid a treasure in Santa Fe. What would you say to those people?
Forrest: Whatever I say to those people will not satisfy them. It’s in their genes. I did hide the treasure in a place that is dear to me. I have received more than 18,000 emails and only three doubt that my treasure story is real, and each of them went to a place where they KNEW the treasure was, and it wasn’t. They blamed me for it not being there for them. It is not easy to find but it certainly is not impossible. Early on a reporter asked me who my audience was for my book. I told her my audience was every redneck in Texas who has lost his job, has a wife and twelve kids, a pickup truck and a sense for adventure. That’s who.
Holly: What do you hope for the person who finds this treasure? Are you hoping that a particular type of person finds it? Do you hope it’s ever found?
Forrest: The person who finds the treasure will be the one who solved the clues in my poem and walked to it. No one will happen onto it. My hope is that whoever deserves it through his efforts will be the finder.
Holly: You’ve been releasing clues. Do you plan on releasing any more in the coming months?
Forrest: The Today show wants me to give another clue each month for a few more. I don’t know when that will end.
Holly: What tips do you have for those wanting to find the treasure?
Forrest: Here is what I would do. Read my book in a normal manner. Then read the poem over and over and over, slowly – thinking. Then read my book again, this time looking for subtle hints that will help solve the clues.
If you want to read more about The Thrill of the Chase, check out Forrest Fenn’s website, the Old Santa Fe Trading Co. Also, check out our pictures from the treasure hunt on our other website, Travel Blue Book.
Have you guys heard about this before? If so, what do you think about the hidden treasure? Would you go looking for it if you had the chance?
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