There’s a fortune hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and this millionaire is the only one who knows where it is
In 2010, Forrest Fenn made two trips north out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and into the Rocky Mountains.
On the first journey, the art dealer carried with him a bronze Romanesque chest.
On the second trip, he brought a backpack filled with gold coins, gold nuggets, and gems.
Fenn says he filled the chest with the valuables and stashed it all somewhere in the massive mountain range.
In the years since, thousands have tried to find the treasure, according to NPR. At least three people have died in the search.
And as far as we know, no one has found the chest yet.
That doesn’t surprise Fenn, now 86.
“No one will happen upon the treasure,” he told Business Insider. “They will have to figure out the clues before they can find it.”
Hints to the treasure’s location (and even a map depicting New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana) are included in two of Fenn’s books, “The Thrill of the Chase” and “Too Far to Walk.” A poem by Fenn that advises the reader to “begin it where warm waters halt” is said to include nine clues.
“Read the clues in my poem over and over and study maps of the Rocky Mountains,” Fenn said via email. “Try to marry the two. The treasure is out there waiting for the person who can make all the lines cross in the right spot.”
The idea for the treasure hunt had been brewing for years before 2010. It first came to Fenn after a brush with death.
He had kicked off his varied career by joining the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Fenn had a hard tour, working 14-hour days and dropping 22 pounds.
“As a fighter pilot, I flew 328 combat missions in about 348 days, and was shot down twice,” he said. “I was missing in action in the Laotian jungle. On other missions, I took battle damage to my plane and wondered if I would make it home.”
After the war, Fenn said he felt mentally and physically exhausted.
“I was not going to wear a coat and tie, wear a watch, or have a calendar,” he said. “I just wanted out. Santa Fe was the only place where I might make a living wearing blue jeans, Hush Puppies, and a short-sleeve shirt.”
So he entered the art business, opening the Old Santa Fe Trading Co. He says that sitting down and thinking allowed him to achieve success.
“People today are too busy to think,” Fenn said. “There is so much going on in the world, and they are distracted. My advice would be to set aside an hour each day to just think. Don’t rule out any idea.”
In 1988, Fenn, who had been diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer, was struck by a particularly unusual idea. He considered leaving behind some clues, heading out into the wilderness with a chest of treasure and a bottle of sleeping pills, and dying on his own terms.