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Decade Long Search For Treasure Chest Worth $2 Million Has Ended

Treasure Island: Mountain Edition

Photo by Jouwen Wang on Unsplash

In the movies, gold and silver are buried in a mysterious spot marked “X.” Fearless adventurers set off on epic journeys to discover the treasure chest, guided only by a flimsy treasure map. However, in a real life treasure hunt started by Forrest Fenn, instead of a “X” or a map, the only hint provided about the location of the chest was a poem. Here is one stanza:

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.

Sounds a bit confusing, right? However, a man from the Eastern US deciphered the hidden clues and recently discovered the treasure chest deep in the Rocky Mountains. As Fenn puts it, “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.” Now the owner of $2 million worth of gold, jewelry and gems, the man remains anonymous.

Fenn, an art dealer, created the treasure hunt more than 10 years ago to inspire people to explore the great outdoors. Included in The Thrill of the Chase, his book, is the poem that kicked off a decade of treasure hunting.

The Good

Hundreds of thousands of people have swarmed the Rocky Mountains in search of the treasure throughout the years. While only one person received the tangible benefit of the treasure, many enjoyed the gifts of nature and were incentivized to explore areas they normally would have left untouched. Fenn originally started this contest to spread the glory of nature, so his mission has been accomplished.

The hunt also led to bonds built between the countless treasure seekers and inspired the creation of a “Treasures Galore” Facebook Group.

The Bad

Though this contest has been a source of inspiration and joy, the hunt has also had fatal consequences. Up to 5 people, including Michael Sexon, Jeff Murphy, and Eric Ashby, have perished in search of this gold and glory. Plus, unhappy treasure hunters are complaining about the lack of transparency surrounding the end of the hunt.

“This has been a horrible ending to something that has been so extremely important in my life for eight years,” said Cynthia Meachum, a dedicated treasure seeker. “It has affected me a lot more than I thought it ever would.”

Now, people are filing court cases against Fenn, accusing him of creating misleading clues and fraudulent statements. However, Fenn hasn’t engaged with such accusations, and simply congratulated “the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope[d] they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries.”

The Takeaway

Though there’s no longer a treasure chest worth $2 million out there, the exploration of nature shouldn’t stop. After all, Forrest Fenn’s vision for this hunt was to encourage people to appreciate the outdoors. The true treasure lies in discovering nature’s beauty, its hidden creeks, caves, and caverns.


Decade Long Search For Treasure Chest Worth $2 Million Has Ended was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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