Someone Has Come Very Close to His Buried Treasure

The hunt for Forrest Fenn's buried chest goes on in the American West
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2019 2:08 PM CDT
Updated Jun 22, 2019 1:00 PM CDT
Someone Has Come Very Close to His Buried Treasure
In this file photo, a herd of bison grazes in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. A 53-year-old Illinois man who fell to his death in Yellowstone in 2017 was looking for the Forrest Fenn treasure.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

A real-life treasure hunt continues to unfold in the American West, and Money checks in on how things are going in the sometimes deadly search for Forrest Fenn's loot. The takeaway: The buried chest with an estimated $5 million in gold, jewels, and other riches remains undiscovered, though Fenn says treasure hunters have come within 200 feet of it. He says he expects the search will end soon. The backstory for the uninitiated: Fenn self-published a book in 2010 called The Thrill of the Chase; in it is a 24-line poem studded with clues. Solve the clues, find the chest that he says he buried. About 350,000 people are estimated to have physically searched for it as of last year, conducting "BOTGs," or Boots on the Ground missions, after parsing the poem. "Most, but not all, reject any notion that it’s a hoax," writes Julia Glum.

The dark side: So far, four people have died searching, and the chief of the state police in New Mexico even asked Fenn to call off the hunt. Fenn considered it but declined. The story includes interviews with people who have become obsessed with the hunt, including Cynthia Meachum, a 65-year-old New Mexico woman who has devoted her retirement to it, complete with a "war room" and a website. (She thinks the treasure is somewhere around Yellowstone.) Over the years, a huge online community has sprung up in which people share their insights and search stories. "It's easy to get addicted to looking for this treasure because it's a great deal of fun," says Dal Neitzel, who has a well-known blog about the search. "If you want to find it, you keep looking. That can be expensive." Indeed, Meachum says her 2018 costs exceeded $10,000. (Read the full story.)

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