Updated: Aug 22, 2020
Okay, first off, it's not strictly $2 million in cash that's up for grabs. It's actually a treasure chest filled with gold nuggets, gemstones, jewelry, and rare coins, and it's hidden in an outdoor location in the mountains north of Santa Fe.
The treasure chest was placed in its top-secret location by Forrest Fenn, a former Air Force Major who fought in the Vietnam War before retiring to become an Art Dealer in New Mexico. The 88 yr old's inspiration for the treasure hunt was born in 1988 which saw him diagnosed with cancer, with his doctor advising that it was likely terminal.
The location of the treasure chest was originally intended to be Fenn's final resting place and to give people clues, he self-published a book in 2010 called 'The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir' - a collection of true short stories and anecdotes from his life thus far.
Speaking in an interview in 2016, Fenn estimated that around 350,000 people had been hunting for the treasure. 'It could be found soon or 1,000 years from now...no one knows where that treasure chest is but for me. If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes into the coffin with me.'
In both his book and on his Instagram profile, Fenn has shared a poem which is believed to be a vital clue to the treasure chest's location:
‘As I have gone alone in there,
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And a 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 answer 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.’
'All of the information you need to find the treasure is the poem,' said Fenn when he posted it on his Instagram profile. 'The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck with the search'.
The chest you're looking for measures approximately a square foot and weighs 40 pounds when full, and as anyone who has attempted to locate the hidden treasure in Red Dead Redemption, without some friendly chimes to alert you that you're even vaguely close, a target of those dimensions is very easy to hide.
In his blog, Fenn writes 'the treasure chest is not underwater, nor is it near the Rio Grande River. It is not necessary to move large rocks or climb up or down a steep precipice. Please remember that I was about 80 when I made two trips from my vehicle to where I hid the treasure. The search is supposed to be fun.'
The hunt for the treasure is not an easy one though, and so far, four people have perished whilst searching. Randy Bilyeu, Jeff Murphy, Pastor Paris Wallace, and Eric Ashby have all died trying to locate the treasure chest. Fenn also receives around 100 emails a day and has had to call the police when treasure hunters have appeared at his house and threatened him, but to date, no one has located the much-coveted prize.
More recently, in May 2019, Kevin Gibson of the Louiseville Future website spoke to Chris P. Dotson, 44, a property manager who claims to have worked out the location of Fenn's treasure after spending 5 years studying the clues in the poem, Fenn's books and a collection of maps.
In the interview, Chris claims to have worked out the location to within a quarter-mile radius and had a short break planned during summer last year, but there have been no further updates since. Did he make it and more importantly, was the treasure found? Only time will tell, I guess.
Words by EJ, who never turned off the TV to do something less boring instead.