Whatever the case, I am sure that Grimshaw is the key here, since his name means ‘Dark Wood’.
Could it be that the dark wood is an analogy of the cross that Jesus was crucified upon? Most certainly the wood of the cross would have been stained dark with his blood.
The most likely answer is in the explanation that I have provided previously; that the dark wood is symbolically a place of mystery and loss, where we will never find what we are searching for. This then would be Fenn’s way of hinting to us that his alleged treasure trove of gold and jewels will never be found, as it will forever be enshrouded in the ‘dark wood’ of the unattainable, and of mere imaginings.
Perhaps Grimshaw’s first name, Samuel, offers another clue to unravel this. Samuel means God has heard. Is this Fenn’s way of saying that God knows what he has done, but that he believes that God will forgive him for telling a half-truth, or for telling a lie? Is this why Fenn wrote, “God Will Forgive Me, That’s What He Does.” (Page 138, TTOTC)
Fenn may also be implying that the ‘dark wood’ is a coffin. It definitely would be dark in there after the lid was shut. Therefore he might be telling the searcher(s) who figured out his secret that he’ll give them the title to his gold only after they’re dead (in the wood)!
Read on to see what else I have deduced of this seeming conundrum.
What is a mesa? A mesa is basically a large, flat-topped mountain or plateau, often encompassed by sheer cliffs and steep slopes.
Mesa Golondrina is positioned across the Rio Chama from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, running parallel to the river in a north to south direction. Much of this massive plateau is lined with cliffs, thus rendering it inaccessible for most of its great circumference.
There is one way to access the mesa top however, and that is by following a dirt road in from the opposite, or western side. I should know, I’ve been there a number of times searching for the treasure; and believe me when I tell you that it’s not the easiest place to get to, and if the weather gets wet, the dirt roads can turn into quagmires real fast.
What does Golondrina mean? The word Golondrina is Spanish for sparrow. Therefore the translation into English would be Sparrow Plateau or Sparrow Mesa.
Interestingly, the Golondrina Mesa is actually shaped like a sparrow. The bird’s beak can even be seen at its southernmost tip. And yes, the mesa top is populated with sparrows too. Sparrows are symbolically significant, due to something that Jesus said.
In Luke 12:6, Jesus said the following:
“Are not 12 sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them are forgotten in God’s sight.”
In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus said:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s (God’s) will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
The meaning here is to have faith and trust in God, since he even takes care of one of the smallest and most common creatures in creation, the sparrow. I believe this to be what Fenn was expressing from pages 94 to 103 in the chapter, “My War for Me,” in TTOTC, where he talks about how one person or thing is as important as every person or thing, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant.
On page 142 of “The Thrill of the Chase,” Fenn writes in his “Ode To Peggy Jean” (his wife):
“Today I looked up at the sky
And saw a sparrow on the fly.
What ancient secrets does he know?”
Besides the sparrow reference, located at the southern tip (near the beak of the bird) of this mesa are ruins from ancient peoples (possibly the Anasazi) who might have once dwelt there. Anasazi means the ‘old ones’, or the ‘ancient ones’.
Reading on with the poem on page 142, Fenn writes, “And saw my shadow floating by.” By the ancient ruins there is a sign from Santa Fe National Forest Site Stewards. On this sign there is shown the black silhouette (or ‘shadow’) of a man, who, strangely enough, looks very much like Fenn when he dons a certain hat and jacket that we often see him wearing.
Coincidence? I seriously doubt it at this point. Fenn did say that he spent at least 15 years “crafting” his poem, after all. I would say that this fact alone leaves little to no room for chance. What do you think?
Fenn has also stated publicly that searchers would not know what the ‘blaze’ was until they had solved the first clue: the “Begin it where warm waters halt” part of the poem. This is because the ‘dove’ actually is the ‘blaze’! Thus you will know where the chest is when you see the blaze directly above it. We will revisit the importance of this key topic later when further analyzing this part of the poem, but first we have some more exploring to do.
Fenn has said that there are nine clues in his poem. Well you could imagine my surprise when I found out that there are nine names when adding Brown to the list of eight WOW members. And the connections don’t stop there either, as each of the names have very particular meanings too. Let’s examine each one in turn, with my own interpretation as to what these names might mean in relation to the treasure hunt, which I will place below the definitions of these names.
But before we get started, I’d like to point out that Fenn hinted in his book, TTOTC, that it might be a good idea to know the meaning of some Spanish words, which is yet another hint that the treasure resides in New Mexico since this state is literally teeming with Spanish place names. (See page 24 and pages 32 and 33 in the chapter entitled, “My Spanish Toy Factory.”) Fenn obviously likes to ‘toy’ with words, and thereby, ideas. For words are thoughts made manifest.
Please take note of the Fairview Cemetery home page with its eight listed Woodmen of the World occupants below:
Owl Rock and the Mesa de las Viejas near the monastery are said to be haunted by malevolent beings. These tales hearken back to olden times. Or is there something else going on? Are these the reasons why we should be scared when searching there? Is this why we have to be ‘brave’? I wonder. I also sometimes wonder whether Fenn is hinting to us that he is ‘kidding’ about his alleged treasure chest filled with gold and jewels because of his Captain Kidd (as in, ‘Kidd’; ‘kidding’) tale. He certainly does like to play games, as I have discovered!
Thus, let’s get back to this ranch without further hesitation, which features none other than ‘Brown’ himself, who can still be seen hanging around, and on the wall too, as he was the largest Brown trout ever recorded being taken out of the river.
So you see, this particular ‘Brown’ is not a person at all, but a fish; and yes, it is standard procedure to capitalize the title of the type of fish. This I declare to everyone who has been erroneously looking for a person named Brown. I must admit that I looked into this possibility from the outset as well, only to find it to be a ‘wild goose chase’ that will lead you to almost infinite ‘red herrings’, but not any closer to the true solve.
But don’t fret just yet if you were looking for a person named Brown, because you were partly right. But we’ll get to that other ‘Brown’ later. On this point, it has been said about Fenn that he is the master of the ‘double entendre’. What, don’t know French? That’s okay, neither do I; well, just a few words is all. It means ‘double meaning’ (I had to look that one up). In other words, Fenn likes to create situations where there is more than one meaning to what he writes or says, and sometimes he even applies the same or similar meaning to more than one subject. So yes, there are at least two Browns involved in this ‘chase’. One is a fish, while the other is a real person, but he’s dead (Fenn likes to say that “two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead”). Don’t worry though if you’re still not sure what the heck I’m talking about just yet. Stick with me and you’ll see what I mean by all of this later.
So I thought that I had it figured out. There were the warm waters being held back at the top of the dam (“Begin it where warm waters halt”). Then there was the Chama Canyon (“And take it in the canyon down”). Note that the term ‘down’, when referring to maps and geography, is often used to indicate a southerly direction. To top it all off, there was the “home of Brown,” complete with its ‘put in’ (as in: “Put in below the home of Brown”).
As for the “Not far, but too far to walk” verse, Fenn is telling us that it is not too far down river from the home of Brown (Cooper’s Ranch), but far enough that you won’t want to try and walk there. And, no, you don’t have to take a wild whitewater boat trip down the river, as we did. Nor do you have to ride a horse, or a bike, or roller skates, or a skateboard. Neither should you fly in a plane, helicopter or some other contraption. No, and you don’t even have to run to get there! Just get back in your car and drive to the next destination. Yep, the next part of the chase is as simple as that! Remember, Fenn said he drove a car (a sedan to be exact). Of course, he said this years after we had already taken our boat trip down the river, so it didn’t do us much good at the time.
Seems perfect so far, I thought. However, some doubts were nagging at me and it didn’t take me long to find a chink in my own chain. Did you find it? I did when I realized that the action of the dam still does not fully explain how warm waters can halt, which literally means to abruptly stop. I found out later that the warmer water does not actually halt completely since it is still released to some extent by the dam, forming the upper or surface waters which ride above the colder waters below the flow. So it was not the perfect solve I had hoped it to be, and it may even have been because of us that Fenn finally announced that where warm waters halt had nothing to do with a dam.
(See pages 121 to 125 of TTOTC)
This term describes a type of fishing in which ‘fly lures’ are the hooks used to catch fish. This technique is often the preferred method with which to catch trout. This is another hint that the place where the treasure lies is near a river well-known for trout fishing. Such is the Chama River.
Fenn has said in at least one interview:
“I’m not going to draw an ‘X’ on a map for you.”
Why is this significant? This comment becomes all too clear when looking down on the Monastery of Christ in the Desert from above. Use Google Earth or Google Maps for this. Zoom in and you will see that their largest of buildings, which is shaped like a rectangle, has an expansive courtyard in its center. Within this open area there are pathways that are shaped exactly like a huge ‘X’. And there you have it, X marks the spot!
Fenn seems to borrow from this old television series where he fills the role as the main character, Beaver, the youngest boy of the family.
On page 58 of TTOTC, there are photos of Fenn wearing what appears to be a beaver-skin hat.
Fenn’s brother, Skippy, seems to be a composite for the older brother, Wally, of this TV show. It’s uncanny how much these two even resemble each other. Keep in mind that the name Skippy means someone who skips or 'springs', which is yet another tie-in to Spring Canyon, New Mexico!
June was the name of the mother in the show, which is also Fenn’s sister’s name.
The father’s name is Ward and there just so happens to be a Ward Ranch in the Chama River Canyon.
In Episode 3 of “Leave it to Beaver,” entitled “Captain Jack,” Beaver’s parents find some of his stashed items; one of them is a marble. Fenn appears to be quite fond of marbles (see pages 32 and 33 in TTOTC).
In this same episode Wally and Beaver order a live baby alligator through the mail. I have heard that Fenn kept pet alligators for a time. Somewhere in his book he says, “Don’t make the alligator mad until you’ve crossed the river.”
The theme music for this series is “The Toy Parade,” which is yet another connection to Fenn’s writings (see chapter, “My Spanish Toy Factory,” in TTOTC).
Many more comparisons can be made to various episodes of this TV show and Fenn’s stories, and if you are so inclined, there are plenty of these videos on Youtube where you can see the similarities for yourselves.
I left the very best for last …
But before I get started, I have to ask you a question: What is the quickest way to look down? Is it by moving your whole head or just your eyes? Bingo, you guessed it right! The fastest method of looking down is by moving the eyes, since they are much faster and more agile that those big and heavy noggins we all have teetering around on the tops of our necks.
Whilst doing this in front of the altar, my eyes landed exactly upon what was precisely in the very centermost spot of it. What was there? The treasure chest of course!
“So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure.” (Pages 131 to 132, TTOTC)
So where is Fenn’s rainbow? Well, that’s easy enough to figure out, because he tells us exactly where it is. It’s in the same place as his treasure. What does he treasure? The answer we already know, it is ‘Peace’. Remember that he wrote, “I was at peace with it all” and “go in peace.”
But where is the actual rainbow? The rainbow is God’s sign in the sky, as recorded in the scriptures. The choice of a rainbow in the form of a flag harkens back to the rainbow as a symbol in the Bible. As such, the rainbow is also displayed on a number of flags as a symbol of peace. There is a long history of this practice going back to the 15th century in Europe.
And there we have it: Fenn’s rainbow signifies Peace.
On page 33 of TTOTC, there is an illustration of Fenn as a boy playing the game of Marbles with some friends. At their feet is a circle, while inside the circle is a triangle of marbles. This is not by chance.
In Christian symbolism, the triangle inside a circle represents the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which together are One God. The Triangle is the Trinity and the Circle is One God.
It is also interesting to realize that the number 33 (page 33) is of great importance in freemasonry. Thus Fenn is suggesting that this chapter, page and illustration are very special to him.
Charles – Germanic word for man or warrior
Again, a possible reference to Fenn, who was in the air force and involved in combat.
Palmer – pilgrim / a person who journeys to a sacred place
This will lead to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert located in the Chama River Canyon. Fenn is most certainly bringing us there to find something sacred, something ‘hidden’. But is it hidden in plain view? We shall see.
As a final note about this organization, I will mention that they are also in the life insurance business, or death insurance as some prefer to call it, therefore it makes sense that Fenn would be a WOW member to help provide for his family after he is gone.
The third line of the final stanza. Why must we, as the searchers, be brave when we arrive at the place where the treasure lay? And why did Fenn say that “it scared him so badly” while searching for his treasure in a dream (see page 133 in TTOTC)?
Is there something scary about the treasure’s location? Did something terrible happen there? There were two deaths on or near the monastery grounds. The demise of Peter Avery, 22 years old at the time, was very suspicious (22 is also Forrest Fenn’s day of birth). On the final page of TTOTC (page 147), Fenn writes, “And that’s why I think youth should always be wasted on the young.” Avery was very young when he died.
Or could it be that Fenn is saying a person must be brave to humble oneself by seeking God, through His son Jesus, which requires repentance and humility?
Presently I will conduct an in-depth analysis of the first and last names of the eight aforementioned WOW members, and Frank O. Brown as well, for he also has a crucial part to play in Fenn’s poem.
An important number in masonry. This number has traditionally signified misfortune, suffering and ‘death’.
On page 6 of TTOTC, Fenn writes:
“My mind stays at about thirteen.”
It is thirteen miles to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert along Route 151.
Fenn writes on page 76 of his book:
“I climbed that ladder 274 times in Vietnam and each time I wondered if that beautiful plane would bring me home again.”
The page this is written on adds up to a 13, and the number 274 also equals a 13 in numerology.
Fenn writes on page 96 of the same book:
“That flight had been many years before – thirteen to be exact – on the 13th of July, 1956.”
In numerology, the number 22 is similar to 13 in that they both add down to the root number 4 (e.g., 2+2=4; 1+3=4). On page ‘22’ of TTOTC there is a picture of Fenn when he was thirteen.
Maybe Fenn is just ‘symbol-minded’? We must ‘read between the lines’ and see past all of his ‘smoke and mirrors’ to find out what he is really saying, and there you’ll find the truth.
Charles – military man / warrior
Fenn was a military man and he uses the word ‘warrior’ in his book to describe a soldier who has been involved in combat.
Bishop – overseer / to look on or over / to oversee or to look over something
Fenn stated that searchers were ‘overlooking’ something important. The blaze, which is the dove, looks over (oversees) the location of the chest, and also oversees the tops or crests of some of the WOW members’ gravestones.
The first clue led to Fairview Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, near where Fenn lives. The blaze was there on some of the crests of the WOW members’ gravestones. It was the ‘dove’, a universal symbol of ‘peace’. Fenn remarked that we should seek to know words, to have an understanding of them. I could not agree more. Words are powerful representations of thoughts and ideas. As a writer, researching the meanings and origins of words has given me a deep appreciation for this fascinating subject.
“The Moving Finger writes, and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”
See page 101 of TTOTC where Fenn borrows from Omar Khayyam. Remember, wit means wise. And again there is a reference to ‘tears’. (“Begin it where warm waters halt”: when the tears halt, you are dead, because life is often filled with sorrows.)
At this juncture I would like to enter two other points, which may also be relevant. The label on the monks’ beer bottle shows a picture of a rising sun, while their gift shop is called ‘The Burning Bush’. They even use the burning bush as a logo. Yet two more inferences to a ‘blaze’!
Before entering this building, where their gift shop is housed, one will see a large bell hanging above the porch. Well, well, Fenn does say that he’s been making bells! Fenn also makes mention of a book that he read, entitled For Whom the Bell Tolls on page 10 of TTOTC.
See page 134 in TTOTC where he writes:
“Ring the bell loudly –
for he who dies with
over fifty dollars is a failure.”
The monks at the monastery ring this bell often as a call to worship and pray. My wife and I were even able to hear this bell ringing from afar, atop the lofty plateau of the Mesa Golondrina, across the Rio Chama, when we camped there in search of Fenn’s purported cache.
Here is another point. It is recorded in the Bible that Jesus told a rich man to give all of his wealth away to the poor and then to follow him. Is this what Fenn is hinting at in the above statement?
On page 137, Fenn writes this:
“If you should ever think of me,
a thousand years from now,
please ring my bell so I will know.”
Upon entering this building, we soon discovered that there is a large mural which fills the walls. A depiction of Jesus holding a lit candle looms large on the facing wall. Is the candle’s flame yet another hint of a blaze? Other aspects of these murals are also quite telling. There is a depiction of a phase of the moon similar to what is shown on page 146 of TTOTC. There is a rendering of a raven as well.
“Today I looked up at the sky
And saw a raven flying by.” (page 142, TTOTC)
Then a boat is shown on a river … and guess what? The boat has no oars or paddles, even though it is obviously the type of boat that would need them, as it does not have a mast or sail (“There’ll be no paddle up your creek”).
Bordering the cemetery to the north is the New Mexico School for the Deaf. See: “So hear me all and listen good,” in Fenn’s poem on page 132 of TTOTC (6th stanza, line 1). Need I say more?
Yep, it gets even better. Bordering the cemetery to the west is Captain Marble, a marble contractor. Remember that Fenn talks a lot about making marbles and playing with marbles in the chapter entitled, “My Spanish Toy Factory,” in TTOTC.
And I’m not done yet! Furthermore, Captain Marble is very likely a metaphor for “Captain Marvel,” which was a fictional superhero from Marvel Comics. Fenn makes mention of ‘Thor’ as well, who is also a comic book character. And there is no doubt that Fenn saw himself as a marvel at the game of marbles. He claims that he was the “Grand Marble Champion” of the seventh grade. Perhaps he fancies himself as a ‘Marble Superhero’?
Then there is this little bit of writ from his poem: “But tarry scant with marvel gaze.” (See third line of the fourth stanza in Fenn’s poem on page 132 of TTOTC). There’s that word again. What a marvel!
Arriving at the monastery property, the first thing I saw was their sign. You see the word “Peace” (“go in peace”) boldly engraved at the top of the wooden sign. A saying that was common in the old days, but is not heard much anymore, is “to keep your peace,” which means to be silent. The monks of the monastery are known to keep vows of silence, meaning they will not speak, even if spoken to (“So hear me all and listen good”). Also, there is a picture in the monastery of a man with a scroll, which reads, “Listen my son to the Master’s precepts and incline the ear” (again: “So hear me all and listen good”).
The last thing you read at the bottom of this sign is “Private Property” + “Dead End Road”. Once here, we have reached the end of the road (“the end is ever drawing nigh”), since this dirt road ends at the monastery. A little known meaning of the word ‘nigh’ can also be ‘on the left side’. As you are nearing the monastery from the road, their sign can be seen on the ‘left’ side.
All of the property ahead is private, although the monks have designated a few places open to visitors, such as their guest housing, the gift shop, the church and a few areas between these buildings and the river. Fenn stated on video that the place where the treasure chest lies is a ‘private’ place (hint).
The chapter entitled, “No Place for Biddies,” in TTOTC contains more than meets the eye at first glance. The definition of “biddy” (singular form) is an elderly woman who is regarded as annoying and interfering (“biddies,” being the plural form).
I believe these two old biddies to be a symbolic representation of the Mesa de las Viejas (which means, Mesa of Old Women, or possibly, is a reference to witches or hags in Spanish). This mesa is located directly to the east of the Rio Chama and the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.
In Spanish, ‘mesa’ means a table, or a high plateau, which is sort of shaped like a table, while ‘viejas’ means old women. In the case of this particular mesa however, the folklore of the region seems to indicate that the intended meaning was ‘witches’, as they were said to inhabit secret caves on the mesa cliffs.
I am aware that some maps have this mesa listed as ‘viejos’ (old men) instead of ‘viejas’. Perhaps this title is also valid, being a possible reference to the old ones (ancient ones or Anasazi). Regardless, I am still sure of how Fenn meant it in relation to his treasure hunt, since there are far too many exact connections, thereby making it beyond the realm of chance.
Fenn writes that these two old biddies mocked him as a boy, saying, “He’d run away from home but he’s not allowed to cross the street.”
“Besides, I could cross the dumb street anytime I wanted to.” (See page 20 in TTOTC.) He writes this in reaction to the “two biddies,” who said he was not allowed to cross the street. Is Fenn using the street as a symbol for the Chama River or for the road that goes to the monastery? The 13 mile road, Route 151, runs parallel to this mesa all of the way to the monastery, which is as far as you can go that way since it is a dead end. Hence, “The end is ever drawing nigh”!
On top of this mesa is a long dirt road. Not far from where the upper Rio Cebolla nears the road there is an old, weathered sign with four markings on it, like horseshoes (e.g., U U U U). Odd as it may seem, these are similar upturned versions of the double omegas Fenn utilizes in the back of his book. Then on page 135 of TTOTC, he writes about how the measurements are made to make a horseshoe (yet another hint that leads to this area).
The phase of the moon that is shown in the illustration on page 146 in TTOTC is a ‘Waning Crescent’. This is important, because Fenn is using it symbolically to tell searchers to go in a certain direction from the monastery.
The waning crescent moon, which is also called, ‘Old Moon’, moves across the night sky before dawn in an arched (like a rainbow) pattern, going from east to west. There are depictions of moon phases in the monastery murals as well.
Therefore, this phase of the moon directs searchers to follow its path from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert to the Mesa Golondrina, where the frogs reside in Sapo Pond, and finally on to Spring Canyon. The symbolism of the word, spring (sault), as well as the end of Fenn’s rainbow, the moon phase and the illustration where Fenn is pointing the blade of an axe due north from Starrynight Ranch all lead to this canyon.
We conducted a number of forays into this canyon, searching the ruins and Turtle Rock, as well as several miles up the canyon until the forest and the terrain became so dense and boulder-strewn as to make any further exploration difficult to impossible. If anything was hidden or buried in there, it eluded us.
On a positive note, my wife and I watched this phase of the moon arcing across the night sky while camping under the stars on many occasions during our search. As with this splendid canyon, it is a marvelous site to behold.
And then I recalled that Fenn wrote of a graveyard he used slip out to at night when he was a boy in the town of Temple, Texas. The cemetery was located within walking distance, north of his house (see page 41 in TTOTC). Reading further along on page 42, Fenn explains that the cemetery was near railroad tracks.
Now here is where it gets even more interesting. While poring over a map of Santa Fe, New Mexico, I found that these directions very closely resemble the directions from Fenn’s present home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is on Old Santa Fe Trail. If you proceed in a northwest direction from his house there, you will come across the Santa Fe railroad tracks, on the other side of which, and but a short distance away, is Fairview Cemetery at 1134 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Thus the clue, “begin it where warm waters halt” leads directly to this particular graveyard. Adding to this point, Fenn explains how he would ‘run’ as fast as he could past the cemetery and towards the railroad tracks (see chapter entitled, “Gypsy Magic,” pages 42 and 43 in TTOTC). Furthermore, the railroad in Santa Fe just so happens to be called the “Rail Runner” (hint).
One of the first things you notice upon entering this rugged dirt road is a dead end sign (“The end is ever drawing nigh”). Yes, thirteen miles later this road will end at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Once there, you can drive no farther. The road trails alongside the Chama River for much of its length, which is on the left. To the right is the Mesa de las Viejas with its massive, beautifully sculpted and colored, cliffs.
Then, thirteen miles later, you will see another sign, this time a wooden one, which will repeat what the first one said: “Dead End.” The only road here ends at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.
“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.”
Notwithstanding, I knew that I had still found the correct location. Thus I reevaluated what ‘warm waters halting’ might mean. This line of thinking thereby caused me to examine the figurative meaning of words, what they could mean in a symbolic and metaphoric sense. Forrest Fenn’s book, TTOTC, was very helpful here. I pondered the many things he said. One was that he had plenty of imagination. Therefore I began searching my mind for an imaginative answer to this puzzling statement.
Then suddenly it struck me. This whole idea of his was preceded by the fact that he believed he was going to die, and to top it all off, several of the stories in his book show him crying (remember, he stated that there were hints in his book). That’s it I thought! Warm waters are tears! If you research what it is that tears are, you will find that scientific inquiry considers them to be warm waters produced by the body. Tears are even within the correct temperature range to be defined as warm.
So then, when do they halt? Of course, there is the answer I sought, plain as day. Hold onto your hats (or seats, if you don’t wear a hat). Here it comes!
Tears halt when you die. Fenn is making a powerful statement that life will always have times of sadness. When you die however, all of the hurt, all of the pain and all of those shed tears will come to an abrupt end. On page 142 of TTOTC, Fenn writes, “Forget the pain and harm you see.”
In the Bible, Jesus said something similar when he was recorded as saying, “In this world you will never have peace”. We will return to the person of Jesus later, as I believe Fenn intended for Jesus to play a most crucial role in his well-crafted poem.
Returning to the subject of death, the next factor to consider is how this will direct us to a particular place. Obvious enough, I mused. Where do the dead reside? Ah, in cemeteries of course!
So what then is the blaze? The dove is a noteworthy symbol in freemasonry. It is shown on Samuel Grimshaw’s gravestone, one of the Woodmen of the World (WOW) members in Fairview Cemetery. In fact, the representation of a dove is a common symbol of the WOW fraternity and many other masonic organizations. The dove is featured prominently on numerous WOW badges, emblems, coins and gravestones. A tree stump is often shown below the dove, followed by the phrase: “Dum Tacet Clamat.” This is Latin for “Though Silent, He Speaks” (“So hear me all and listen good”).
The dove is pictured nesting in the moon in the illustration on page 146 of TTOTC, where a caricature of Fenn is also shown holding an axe in a field of tree stumps. The axe and the tree stumps are both important symbols used by the Woodmen of the World. Tree stumps in various forms can be seen as the shapes of many WOW members’ gravestones in Fairview Cemetery. Representations of stumps and axes are also frequently shown engraved on the crests, or tops, of these grave markers.
Symbolically, tree stumps can represent a life cut short, which is what Fenn was faced with when he believed that he didn’t have much longer to live.
Where is the dove in the Monastery of Christ in the Desert? Ah, we shall see. And so we must leave the first building and walk but a short distance to reach the church.
Once inside, the viewer is met by an altarpiece in the center of the room with a number of pictures painted upon its wooden surface. The room is also filled with dark, wooden pews. Are these shades of ‘Grimshaw’ (dark wood) from Fairview Cemetery?
This altar is the central focus of what it is that is worshiped here. Upon its façade are a number of small paintings. On the lower left is a picture of the Indian Maiden, Kateri Tekakwitha. Her last name means, “she who bumps into things.” Fenn has said that no one is just going to ‘stumble’ upon the treasure chest. In this picture, Owl Rock is shown behind her (“If you’ve been wise”).
Perched on a tree beside her is a Bald eagle. Fenn writes that he filled his chest mostly with ‘American eagle’ coins. The Bald eagle is a symbol of America.
The point to consider here, is the ‘where’. Where does Fenn intend to lead us, keeping in mind that the mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, encompass a massive area that includes several states. Therefore there must be a clue here that tells you where to begin your quest; where exactly, as in a particular region or state, otherwise your search would truly be equivalent to the old adage of ‘trying to find a needle in a haystack’.
Do you see it now? There, as plain as day, he says that he is giving us a ‘hint’ (“And hint of riches new and old”)! Now let me give you a hint, there is only one state within the search area that begins with ‘new’. Yes, that’s right, New Mexico. Now you have a place to start, which just so happens to be the very state where Fenn resides and within easy reach for him to put the particulars of his treasure hunt together.
Another point to pay attention to here is that the third line and fourth line of this stanza do not make a complete sentence, and neither do they make any sense together. I believe that Fenn did this purposely. To make a complete sentence and thought out of this, the ‘where’ of “I can keep my secret where” and the ‘where’ of “where warm waters halt” must be combined. Therefore, Fenn is actually saying “I can keep my secret where warm waters halt”. This was intentionally hidden within these lines of the poem to demonstrate the importance of the first clue. The first clue is the key to solving his riddle. Because it is where he keeps his ‘secret’.
Fenn has commented that the solution to his poem was rather straightforward, and in some ways I have to agree with him, as in the above example. Yet there is another aspect to his poem that few have realized or explored, and this is the little known fact that some of the clues he presents are highly symbolic, metaphoric and abstract in nature, which we will continue to explore in the next stanza of the poem.
“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.”
Is Fenn a ‘Wise Guy’? Maybe yes, maybe no, but he certainly does utilize the idea plentifully, as listed below:
“Owl Rock”: Owls are symbols of wisdom. This enormous rock, which resembles an owl, stands near the entrance to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in northern New Mexico.
“Monk’s Wit”: This is the beer of the monastery.
“Wit”: This word is found on page 101 in TTOTC from a poem by Omar Khayyam.
“Occasionally it’s wise for the fox to dress like the hound.” (page 7, TTOTC)
“If you’ve been wise” from page 132 of TTOTC.
To be wise means to know about something in advance. Fenn has said that searchers would not know what the blaze was until they had figured out the first clue. The first clue leads to Fairview Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The blaze is the depiction of a dove, seen on WOW members’ gravestones in the cemetery. The dove is once again seen on the top of the altarpiece at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.
There is also a Wise County Courthouse located in Decatur, Texas, which is an example of Romanesque architecture. Here we have the word ‘wise’ once again. As for the other connector, Fenn claims that his treasure chest is a Romanesque Lock Box, which would hold a Bible or a Book of Days! Could this courthouse in Texas be where he got his treasure chest idea from?
Here is the bombshell! This is the actual physical proof that I have mentioned previously in this expose of mine.
Are you ready? Here it comes …
Imagery date 8/22/2011 on Google Earth shows an image of Forrest Fenn (8/22 is Fenn’s month and day of birth). The cartoon-like image shows a hatted Fenn either walking along the edge of an embankment or standing with one of his legs raised and bent at the knee like what is pictured on page 146 of TTOTC. It might be there, on the ground. Did Fenn scrape it out from the earth? If it’s on the earth, it’s approximately a 40 foot wide by 60 foot long figure. How exactly he constructed this caricature of himself I’m not sure, but I am aware that there are salts, chemicals and plant hormone sprays that can kill the vegetation in an area and keep the plants and trees from growing back for years to come.
Of course the more likely scenario is that Fenn took a preexisting natural clearing that was already there on Google Earth and began embellishing it through the use of computer programming. I did hear Fenn say in an interview that one of his granddaughters was really good with computers. I can still see this figure back to 2006 in the Google imagery, even though it gets more and more blurry the farther you go back in time.
This area is located on the lower part of the Mesa Golondrina, which is to the west of the Rio Chama. From the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, this image is approximately a mile away in a northwest direction across the river. It is near the edge of the cliffs on the easternmost side of the mesa above the river valley basin.
We hiked into this location on two different trips and searched all around where the image resides, but did not find any sign to indicate that there was a treasure hidden or buried there. We did find a really nice pair of large elk antlers though and used them like trekking poles to hike back up the steep ravine that leads down into this remote part of the mesa.
And it doesn’t end there either. Nearby are even more images that were programmed into Google Earth between the figure of Fenn and the river. There is a cartoon-like image of a boy and the words 'I LOV' backwards, which actually looks something like this, V O L I. There is also the word love nearby. Then there is the letter R just across the river from a circular shaped house on the monastery’s property. Another image is just a short distance to the northwest of Fenn’s figure. In an upside down, tear-shaped part of the landscape appears to be the image of his father in a white shirt. Fenn seems to have done some serious doodling in his spare time. See the Google Imagery below.
In summation, I hope that whomever reads this finds it to be as interesting, fascinating and thrilling as we found the experience of the Chase to be. Feel free to keep searching if you like, even though you have my ‘O-pinion’ about what the alleged (Know Lege) treasure is and what it isn’t. Remember that one of Fenn’s major motivations for doing this seems to be his desire to leave a legacy for himself that will span the ages. The best, and perhaps the only way, for him to achieve this goal is for the treasure hunt to go on forever. For if anyone ever found what he purports to have hidden, it would all be over. Fenn’s legacy would more than likely fade away and be forgotten in time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that he has been selling a lot of his books which most likely would not have been possible without using this treasure hunt as a scheme. Remember that Fenn is also an avid fisherman, and as such he knows how to lure (pun intended) people in and how to catch them by using the perfect bait.
In a recent interview, I heard Fenn say that people will still be looking for his treasure hundreds of years from now. How could he declare this so affirmatively if the possibility existed that his alleged treasure could actually be found? It seems that he knows something we do not. This is yet more evidence that the whole thing is a big hoax. Yes, let’s finally call it for what it really is. There’s an old and wise adage that goes something like this, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” I think we ought to take this sound advice.
So in consequence, we should thereby take Fenn’s advice as well, and “Just take the chest and go in peace.” Otherwise we’ll spend our lives looking for something that can never be found. The one and only chest he does take us to is in the monastery where the embodiment of Jesus the Christ allegedly resides. We are told that bread is kept in this box, representing the body. But where is the drink, the blood? Is it not just as important? Yet it is absent from the chest.
So why does any of this matter? Who can say? Perhaps it is best to leave symbols to the symbol-minded after all. As for me, I will continue to seek the truth. For I am a fervent believer that the truth will set us free. Why? Because the very best things in life are free. That’s why.
Go in peace.
Julius D. Adelar
David – beloved
In the Bible, David was loved by God. Also in the Bible, the beloved of God are those who come to Him through his Son, Jesus.
Lowitzky – lion or lion’s son
Forrest Fenn is born under the zodiacal sign of Leo, the lion. His date of birth is August 22nd.
Fenn even posted his date of birth on Google Maps, which amazingly falls on the Chama River Canyon area! It looks like he somehow managed to program some images into Google in a certain area across the Rio Chama between the Monastery of Christ in the Desert and the Golondrina Mesa.
There is also an image of himself! This is some of the physical proof that I offer. But I’ll get into this subject in more depth later (see the heading: “Fenn’s Doodles,” farther below).
Frank – free / a free man; also a form of Francis, from Franciscus, meaning French or Frenchman
Fenn writes about finding a French soldier’s grave on page 94 of TTOTC.
There are earthen ruins of what used to be a French trapper’s house on the banks of the Chama River. He was known locally as the ‘Frenchman’.
“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.”
There is nothing much to see in this stanza, since Fenn has already accomplished his mission by guiding searchers to the true treasure. Here he is basically just sharing some personal feelings that most likely have to do with his age and his health, as hinted at in the ‘tired and weak’ statement.
The only word that could possibly be a reinforcement to where his symbolic treasure chest lies is, ‘trove’, since it is very close to the word ‘dove’. This is not a clue, but it may be his way of hinting that the dove was marking the treasure’s location. Do you see the similarities of these two words?
What does ‘tarry’ mean? Well, it has more than one definition. One meaning is to linger, wait or delay. The other meaning is ‘dark’ or ‘black’, as in something that resembles the blackness of tar; hence, ‘tarry’. An important point to know is that the Monastery of Christ in the Desert is of the Benedictine order, and as such, they wear black robes. ‘Tarry’ can also mean ‘black’.
What does ‘scant’ mean? It is defined as, a little, brief, or something limited or minimal.
Put the two words together and we have something akin to: don’t linger, don’t wait, or do not delay; or better yet, ‘hurry up’. This would be right in line with what Fenn has publicly stated only recently, when he said something to the effect that it would be advantageous if two people went to get the chest, with one staying in the car while the other person took the treasure. This is sounding a lot like a heist, where the perpetrators make their getaway! Is he saying that we must take the treasure from the monastery?
Of course Fenn is probably joking, but he’s also just as serious in a way. He has said that the treasure is in a ‘private place’. Such is the monastery. In fact, the word “Private” is engraved onto their sign. Fenn seems to be saying, in his allegorical sort of way, that no religion or church has the exclusive rights to salvation through the son of God, Jesus Christ. In other words, he may be advocating, in a facetious way, that we take the box, or chest, away from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert because it belongs to everyone. Remind you of a saying? “The best things in life are free.”
What exactly is this box of which I speak? It is the symbolic representation of Jesus’ body, which is partaken of during communion. What is communion? It is the affirmation of one’s faith, by becoming one with Jesus; by partaking of who he was and what he taught. To the monks at the monastery it is the Tabernacle where they keep the sacred Bread, or Body of Christ.
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54, the “Bible”)
Is Fenn even going so far as to say that he does not believe that this church deserves to have such a sacred symbol in its possession? If so, why would he feel that way? Could it be due to the suspicious deaths that occurred either on or near their land? Or is there some other reason? Is it possible that Fenn is privy to some secret information, the likes of which we can only speculate at?
Yes, Fenn uses the Monastery of Christ in the Desert as a crossroads. Recall the name, ‘Cross’, from Fairview Cemetery. Thus the place of the cross (the monastery) also becomes the crossroads. Quite succinct, don’t you think. This shows purpose. By doing this Fenn can have his treasure hunt continue on far beyond the monastic grounds on the banks of the Chama. In this way, he has perpetrated upon searchers a quest that will never end … unto perpetuity …
This is part of Fenn’s intent, as he alluded to himself in his book. He wants to be remembered forever and not forgotten by the hands of time. What a great way to accomplish this! He has tried to make this a quest that will never end by spanning the ‘chase’ out in opposite directions from the true, and only, solve. Most ingenious, don’t you think. Just take a gander at Google Earth or Google Maps to see what I’m talking about.
Where do the arms of the cross lead?
To the west (or left arm of the cross), it leads to the Mesa Golondrina, and then on to Spring Canyon.
To the east (or right arm of the crossroads) of the monastery, it leads in an equally direct line to these places (all are found in the mountains of northern New Mexico):
Mesa de las Viejas: “Mesa of the Old Women”, or “Mesa of the Old Ones.”
El Rito: “The Creek” in Spanish.
Lamadera: “The Wood” in Spanish.
Brown & Brown: An insurance agency in Taos.
Angel Fire: There is a Vietnam War Memorial located here. Fenn was a combat pilot in this war.
Eagle Nest: This area doesn’t line up with the monastery as nicely as the others do, but then again, there is that ‘American Eagle’ connection.
Fenn has said that he drove a sedan to hide his treasure. I believe this to be another one of his double meanings, where he may be pointing us towards this company that he owns, One Horse Land and Cattle, Ltd. Co. The sedan may derive from the Latin word, sella, which means saddle, or sedere, to sit. Therefore the saddle may be inferred as a connection with the ‘one horse’ in the name of this company.
There it was, at long last, the chest that the whole of Forrest Fenn’s poem is directing us towards, resting in an arched alcove of the altar. Covered in a cloth is the chest, or Tabernacle. And the key is in this box – the key to Salvation.
For the purpose of clarification, this chest in the monastery is known to the monks there as the Tabernacle, named after the Tent of Meetings of the Old Testament times where they kept the Holy of Holies. They keep the consecrated bread in it, since they, as Catholics, believe in the real presence of Christ in the Communion Bread. This custom goes back to the early church so they could have the Eucharist, or Communion Bread, available at all times to receive Communion.
Kept within is the symbolic representation of Jesus’ body, usually in the form of bread. This is partaken of during communion to reaffirm the acceptance of God’s Son and to attain God’s gift of eternal life. Now you know why Fenn writes that he shall never die.
On pages 59 and 63 of TTOTC, Fenn mentions the book, Journal of a Trapper. Yet another hint to tell searchers that they are in the correct area when the search takes them to the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico.
It is even probable that the name Frank is a reference to the freemasons, or ‘free men’ as they are sometimes also known. And it seems quite likely that Fenn himself is a mason since he uses their symbolisms.
Brown – The color brown, referring to the person’s color of hair, eyes, complexion, clothing, or even the work they do.
This is a very common English name, which may be the point, so as to make it very difficult for searchers to figure this clue out since it has so very many broad and commonplace connotations.
Note that Brown is the outsider in this list of names, as he was not a WOW member, and from my research, seemed to be among the large numbers of people who died of disease in the Santa Fe area back in the 1800’s. He was then buried on or near the Cross family burial ground.
Consequently, it may be that Fenn is making a symbolic connection between the Brown of Fairview Cemetery and a person named Peter Avery, who was something of an outsider at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, and died a violent death there at the age of 22 under very suspicious circumstances. Is it mere coincidence that Fenn’s birth day is also the 22nd ? I doubt it.
Peter Avery was not a monk and did not reside at the monastery, although he was buried in the monastery’s small cemetery. Furthermore, buried near to him is Christopher Gardner, who was, interestingly enough, actually the monastery’s ‘gardener’ for a time. He lived in Santa Fe and died at the age of 87.
Who was this person and why do I mention him? Because there is yet another incredible connection to be found here. On page 133 of “The Thrill of the Chase,” Fenn says he dreamed that he was Captain Kidd looking for his treasure on ‘Gardiner's Island'.
Fenn supposedly has a vault in his home. This is the most likely location of the treasure chest and its contents. For if he made these items himself, they would certainly not have the historical, cultural or monetary value that is attached to them. In other words, his alleged treasure trove would be almost worthless and he definitely would not want anyone to find it and expose it for the fake that it is. Why do I say this? Because all of the evidence, hinted at by Fenn himself, appears to support this conclusion.
And then there is this, from Fenn’s own writings on pages 11-12, TTOTC.
“Well, as fate would make it happen the very next morning all the news was about this guy J.D. Salinger who had just died.”
“The news said he was very secretive about what he did, and even Diane Sawyer mentioned that he’d written a lot of books and had hidden some in a vault so no one could read them.”
“He seemed like my kind of guy …”
Need I say more?
New Mexico Department of Transportation
Another ‘neighbor’ of the cemetery can be found across Cerrillos Road to the east. The New Mexico Department of Transportation resides here. Fenn did say that it was, “Not far, but too far to walk”. This is an obvious hint that we should drive.
And there's more besides! Not far away to the northeast of the cemetery is The Fraternal Order of Eagles. Fenn claims that he filled his treasure chest with American eagles and Double eagles.
As a side note, I’d like to point out that someone left a review of Fairview Cemetery on Google Maps, writing, “The view is golden.” Perhaps he knows something too, or maybe it’s Fenn (in disguise) playing games again. Who can say? The first review is also quite interesting. Perhaps you’ll want to take a look for yourselves.
“I buried those bells about three feet deep so a metal detector can’t find them. Some may be on land owned by the American people but tended by the Bureau of Land Management.” (Page 138, TTOTC)
Most of the land that surrounds the Monastery of Christ in the Desert and the Rio Chama are managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).
In the chapter, “Jump - Starting the Learning Curve,” Fenn speaks a lot about a teacher named Miss Ford. I believe that Fenn is utilizing Miss Ford as a symbol. A ford is where you cross a river.
The Spanish name for the town of El Vado on the Rio Chama means ‘ford’, or a place to cross a river.
Is Fenn trying to tell us that we must cross the river at some point in our search? We did, and more than once, and on several different sections of the river too! And ‘WOW’, that water is cold even in summer!
Fenn has said that searchers should have a good map. This couldn’t be more true. I used a bunch of maps to aid me in my search. Besides Google Earth and Google Maps, I also made use of National Forest maps, as well as city and county maps. We finally got ourselves a GPS too, because the fun runs out real fast when you’re in the middle of the wilderness and don’t know where the heck you’re at!
I even tried to use the layout of Fairview Cemetery as a map, superimposing it upon the areas that it led to, such as El Vado Ranch, the monastery and the surrounding regions on both sides of the Chama.
I also went so far as to use the picture of the Indian maiden in the monastery’s church as a map of sorts, by applying it to the opposite side of the river from the monastery and to Spring Canyon as well.
So therefore when I claim that we searched, believe me when I tell you that I’m not exaggerating! We searched alright, often hiking and exploring for days and weeks at a time until our legs gave out. But hey, we had plenty of fun anyways, because life was meant for living!
As for those handy National Forest maps, they show some things that most other maps don’t, but I’ll elaborate more on this subject in “Fenn’s Doodles” below, because it turned out to play a crucial role in how I found the secret things that I did.
Samuel – God has heard
The monks at Christ in the Desert Monastery do a lot of singing, chanting and praying in the hope that God will hear.
At the monastery there is a picture of a man (perhaps a depiction of Saint Benedict) with a scroll that reads, “Listen my son to the master’s precepts & incline the ear.” Yet another hint that I was in the right place!
“So hear me all and listen good,” from the first line of the final stanza (see poem on page 132, TTOTC).
Grimshaw – dark wood
A dark wood is steeped in ages-old allegorical meanings and symbolisms. A dark wood is a metaphor for being lost and not being able to find your way; or not finding something that you may be looking for.
What Fenn is truly saying through the use of metaphor is that his alleged treasure chest filled with riches is something that we will never find, because it is symbolically in ‘the dark wood’, which is a place of mystery, confusion and loss.
Intriguingly, Fenn’s first name, Forrest, has the same meaning as wood. If you have ever been in a large forest or wood (without any trails or compass), then you will know how easy it is to get lost in there, most especially if it is dark too.
Just as interesting is the meaning of Fenn’s last name, Fenn, or ‘fen’, which can mean a marsh, swamp or bog. These are also places where people can get easily lost and confused.
I will delve deeper into this subject further below (see heading: “In the Wood”).
Upon examining the first line of this stanza, I initially thought that it referred to a location where there was some kind of division between the warm and cold waters of a river, stream or lake (as have many others). At the time, I was not aware that this was not the correct solve; yet oddly enough, it still led me to the correct area of the search. My wife and I were most likely the ones Fenn publicly commented on when he stated that ‘they’ (this would be us) had figured out the first two clues, but that he didn’t think ‘they’ (we) knew it. He knew this because we had been contacting him via email about our search plans and where we had been looking, to which he had personally responded on several occasions.
Of course a very important point to recognize is that Fenn never says that he is actually going to give us his alleged gold. What he is really saying is that he gives the finder(s) ‘title’ to the gold, not the gold itself.
The word ‘title’ has important legal implications. As such, it is the right or claim to the ownership of property; or of a title of something or of someone; or of a book, composition or other works.
On page 75 of TTOTC, there is this line from a poem: “Fame’s cloth is gold.” Is Fenn therefore just giving the person(s) who solves his poem title to the fame?
By leading searchers to the monastery, isn’t Fenn in actuality reinforcing what is said in the “Bible”:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19, 20 of the “Bible”)
“My church is in the mountains and along the river bottoms where dreams and fantasies alike go to play,” Fenn writes on page 4 of TTOTC.
Why else would he quote from Millay’s poem?
“Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!” (Page 136, TTOTC)
Fenn also writes, “Anyone who dies with over fifty dollars is a failure.” Why would he say this if he was leading us to a physical, or worldly, treasure?
On page 142 of TTOTC, Fenn writes:
“Today I looked up in the sky
And saw that I shall never die.”
How is this even possible? Everyone dies. Is it because he believes, as do I, that he is promised eternal life. How is this? The answer is God’s promise of eternal life to those who repent of their sins and believe in his son Jesus.
Somewhere in New Mexico there is a small sign at the intersection of three roads that simply reads: John 3:16.
Here is what is said in John 3:16 of the “Bible”:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
“God will forgive me, that’s what He does,” Fenn writes on page 138 of TTOTC.
It is important to notice that Fenn mentions God more than once in his book, TTOTC. Therefore it is pertinent to realize that God must play a very important part in Fenn’s life.
On page 147 of TTOTC, Fenn writes his epitaph: “I wish I could have lived to do, the things I was attributed to.”
Why would he say this to us? Is he saying that he did not hide a treasure chest filled with gold and jewels? Certainly this is one of the things that is attributed to him. But is it true? I believe we have our answer right here in this statement alone.
These quotes that Fenn utilizes in conjunction with his poem, and therefore, ‘the Chase’, say it all:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“For me, it was always the thrill of the chase. What do you think?”
Why? Because if we were to ever find the supposed treasure, then the thrill of the chase would be gone. And more obviously, this is even the title of Fenn’s book. He’s been spelling it out for us all along! It’s as clear and simple and concise as that.
“Dum Tacet Clamat”: Latin for “Though Silent He Speaks.” This is the saying of the Woodsmen of the World, of which Fenn appears to be a member. This phrase can be seen on several of the WOW members’ gravestones in Fairview Cemetery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Samuel Grimshaw is one of the WOW members buried at this graveyard. His first name means “God has heard”. His last name means “dark wood.”
The New Mexico School for the Deaf borders Fairview Cemetery.
“Listen my son to the master’s precepts & incline the ear”: These words are on a picture at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.
Fenn speaks a lot about bells. Bells were meant to be heard and the monastery has its fair share of them.
As a further point, the grammatically proper way to say ‘listen good’ is actually, ‘listen well’. I’m sure that Fenn knows this. So then why would he say it this way? I believe it is because he wants to emphasize the word ‘good’ to us. Why? Because this is the meaning of the only real treasure that he is leading us to. If Fenn truly believes that he is leading searchers to God then this must be a good thing. Also, 'well' rhymes with 'bell'. Very clever.
“And Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”” (Mark 10:18, the “Bible”)
“Know Good”: In Fairview Cemetery there was a tombstone that had these two words engraved on it. I will forever remember them, God willing.
So what caused me to search Spring Creek and Canyon with its intriguing ruins? Well there are several really good reasons. To tell this tale though, we’ll have to travel back to the monastery church.
Inside, on the triptych (or altarpiece) with all of its small paintings, there is one picture in the lower left that shows a Native American woman standing in a field with the Chama River and Owl Rock shown in the distance behind her.
Who is this person, I thought? After a bit of research, I found out that she is a Saint of the Catholic Church. Her name is Kateri Tekakwitha and she is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.”
There are several important connections here with things that Fenn has said and written:
1 Fenn has commented that no one is going to ‘stumble upon’ his treasure. Tekakwitha is the name she was given by her people, the Mohawks. It translates to “she who bumps into things.”
2 Another correlation with this person and Fenn’s writings is the ‘French’ one, as she converted to Catholicism in what was French Canada at the time.
3 On pages 102 to 103 in TTOTC, Fenn writes:
“That’s why the stone marker said “… and smile at a homely girl.”"
This is what he claims was written on a French soldier’s grave marker. Was this Indian maiden the homely girl to whom Fenn alludes? More than likely, since it was she who died from the disfiguring disease of smallpox.
Furthermore, it is maintained that she was a virgin. In olden times, women who were virgins were often labeled as homely, not necessarily because they were ugly, but because they were associated with being ‘homebodies’; which in its simplest connotation, meant that they stayed at home a lot.
Therefore, I believed that Fenn might be trying to lead searchers to the ancient ruins in Spring Canyon due to the fact that these structures are attributed to the Native Americans.
Another fascinating correlation with this person is that she was born into the Turtle Clan of her tribe. The picture of Kateri on the altarpiece of the church shows a turtle on the ground near to her.
But what is truly astounding is the fact that there is a formation in Spring Canyon, called Turtle Rock, that marks the way to the ancient ruins there! Strange, isn’t it?
Here is a quote from page 102 of TTOTC, which gave me yet another reason to explore this canyon and its ruins:
“Why do the yellow and purple flowers flourish where there is no one there to see? The answer is at last obvious to me. No one has to see what is there. The grass sees, and the trees and rushing waters of the spring creek.” (Page 102 of TTOTC)
As a final note about the Spring Canyon ruins, we found an ancient mural of flying geese on a cliff face not far from the main structures. This may be significant if Fenn intended to lead searchers to this area to see these depictions. Why would he do that? Have you ever heard of the saying, "on a wild goose chase", which means to be chasing after something that is unattainable, in other words: a false chase, a ruse, a 'red herring', a fake. Another way of saying it would be to call it a 'fool's errand', which is what a reporter said in a news clip where she interviewed Fenn. The reporter's name was Jennifer London and she said in the second half of the news segment that she believed they were on a fool's errand while referring to Fenn's treasure hunt. You can find the video on YouTube.
This is the Santa Fe railway located not very far from Fairview Cemetery to the north and east. Fenn writes about running (Rail Runner) towards the railroad tracks as a boy, which were also close to the graveyard in his hometown of Temple, Texas.
Captain Marble is located on Railfan Road behind Fairview Cemetery. In the chapter “Gypsy Magic,” Fenn reminisces with great fondness of the railroad that was not far from his house as a boy. In a way you could say that he was a ‘fan’ of the railroad, as in ‘Rail-fan’ Road!
The town of Temple, Texas, where Fenn lived as a boy, was founded as a railroad town, by none other than the Gulf, Colorado and ‘Santa Fe’ Railway Company.
“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.”
On page 40 of TTOTC, Fenn writes, “After four or five times the spankings began to work for me, but I’m not sure Skippy ever learned; maybe he was turning Alpha.”
Then he writes this on page 110, “They would take about four steps, then the Alpha teacher would turn around and say in a loud voice, “Now remember what we told you, don’t touch anything.””
Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” the “Bible.”
Fenn places two omega symbols at the end of TTOTC and on the very last page of his book, he writes:
“I feel my life has been a rough draft of the place just ahead where the past will come alive again and all of my experiences and friends through the years will meet with me at the great banquet table of history. Then there will be no past.”
Gazing upwards to the topmost part of the altarpiece, there is the blaze at long last and in plain sight! The image of a white dove with outstretched wings looms large above, ‘overseeing’ the whole of the altar, with its many paintings. The name Bishop from Fairview Cemetery means ‘overseer’ or ‘to look on or over’. Fenn has said that searchers were ‘overlooking’ something important.
… “a cat and mouse match of sorts” (Fenn writes on page 23 of TTOTC)
Before I delve into Forrest Fenn’s poem, where I will provide methodical examinations and explanations of such, I would like to tell you a few things that are of great interest. Three occurrences that happened to us while we were out upon this quest were very peculiar indeed.
A few days after telling Fenn that we were going to be searching Dark Canyon (a remote canyon on the west side of the Chama River, in northern New Mexico), we found a marble laying right in the center of the only road that goes down towards this canyon. In the chapter, “My Spanish Toy Factory,” in TTOTC, Fenn puts a lot of emphasis on marbles. The marble looked like it had recently been put there too, as it showed no signs of dust, nor any dirt or water stains that would have coated it had the marble been there for some time. And besides this, we had been to this exact location about a week earlier during another search and I know for a fact that the marble was not there at that time. Only Fenn or an accomplice of his could have done this, since he was the only one who knew of our plans!
Then later, on that very same day, while we were nearing the river on our way to Dark Canyon, a small plane zoomed into this remote wilderness area, and upon seeing us, the pilot came in very low, not much above the forest trees and proceeded to circle round and round us for several minutes before heading off. Strange, don’t you think? Fenn making a visit?
Then to top it all off, several years later, I let Fenn know that we were going to explore Spring Creek and Canyon and the Nogales Cliff Dwellings (otherwise known as the Spring Creek Ruins). Can you guess what we found when arriving at the ruins? Set atop the stone rim of the ancient fire pit was a quarter, tail side up, showing the American eagle. Some of the coins Fenn claims to have stashed in his treasure chest are American eagles! Within the fire pit was a red (crimson) cloth, a small toy skull and twenty-two (plastic) turquoise beads. The crimson cloth is notable, as a crimson coat is in a line of a poem that Fenn posts on page 75 of TTOTC. It reads, “Courage wears a crimson coat.” The beads obviously represent the 22 turquoise beads of a small silver bracelet that Fenn says he placed in the chest, but would like back if the treasure is found. The number ‘22’ is also meaningful because it is Fenn’s day of birth. As for the meaning of the toy skull, the skull is a frequently used symbol among freemasons. It represents our mortality on this earth. Thus it is a representation of death.
Further back in the ruins, stuffed into a post hole in an ancient wall was a small bag containing a number of pinon nuts in their shells. What exactly is the significance of the pinon nuts, I’m not sure. Fenn did say that from where the treasure chest was hidden you could smell pine trees and pinon nuts. Well, there were plenty of both all around these ancient ruins.
I have read that pine trees can be symbolic of divine birth (a possible reference to Jesus?). It could also be that he was telling me in a metaphoric way that it’s an ‘opinion’ whether his purported treasure is real or not, since the pinon nuts were in a hole that was shaped like the letter ‘O’. Add this to pinon, and there you have it, ‘O-pinion’. Even the pronunciation is the same! Furthermore, this correlates precisely to Fenn’s purposeful misspelling of the word ‘knowledge’, which he changed to ‘knowlege’ on one of his bells (see pages 136 to 139 in TTOTC).
So what does this all mean, you might ask. Well, here is my theory; Fenn points us in the direction of his jars and bells on page 133 of his book when he tells of a dream he had (see below).
“I dreamed the other night I had been reincarnated as Captain Kidd and went to Gardiner’s Island looking for the treasure. It scared me so badly I was jarred awake and don’t remember whether I found it or not.”
“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.”
Harry – leader / ruler
A possible reference to God or Jesus? God rules in heaven and on earth, while Jesus is a leader since he leads us to God.
Wheeler – wheelwright / driver
“Not far, but too far to walk” from the third line of the second stanza. Fenn is telling searchers that they must drive to the location of the treasure. Fenn confirmed this when he said that he drove a sedan.
Samuel – (same as Name 3 above)
Pawley – Son of Paul or ‘little Paul’. The name Paul means small, little or humble.
Paul from the New Testament of the Bible, who spread the good news about Jesus the Christ and salvation.
Perhaps this humility (from the word ‘humble’) is the explanation as to why Fenn writes his initials in lower case form (e.g., ff).
It is written that Paul of the Bible brought the message of Jesus Christ and God’s salvation to many diverse peoples and places. It is said to be the foundation of Christianity, and as a consequence thereof, forming the cornerstone of belief for the Benedictine monks of Christ in the Desert Monastery.
In the chapter entitled, “Bessie And Me,” Fenn writes about a cow named Bessie and falling into a fresh cow pie. Not at all a pleasant experience.
“… so that night I slept under a tree with cows grazing all around.” (From page 71, TTOTC)
Surrounding the Monastery of Christ in the Desert is ranch land, and lots of it, where cattle roam freely about for much of the year. We walked straight into whole herds of them on more than one occasion and sometimes they were trying to cross the river just like we were.
Of course cows can cause traffic jams too. There are few things worse than being exhausted from a long, hot hike in the mountains only to find the trail blockaded with a huge herd of immovable cows, who don’t seem to know the meaning of the word 'move', even though they understand the word “MOOOO” plain enough. It made my wife laugh when I started shouting at the hordes of cattle to “MOOOOVE OVER”!
As we have already seen, when examining each line you must look at the context and what precedes it; just what exactly it is that Fenn is directly pointing us towards. In this case he is referring back to the ‘creek’ or river that searchers are supposed to be following. This line reinforces the fact that we are in the correct place and headed in the right direction.
Heavy loads and water high is a perfect description of the El Vado dam, which is up the Chama River. This is what the dam does, it holds back heavy loads of water, and the water held back is very high up. Makes sense, doesn’t it. Thus when we were driving up towards the monastery for the first time I knew that I was on the right track.
Besides the ranch at El Vado, route 151 and a handful of little-known, rough, dirt roads, there are no other ways to access the Chama River Canyon (except by boat). But it’s a wild ride, let me tell you, with lots of white water and several challenging rapids. My wife and I braved it though, by ourselves in our own inflatable kayak too, at a time when the water levels were especially high and the river flow quite fast.
I even managed to make it through the Aragon Rapids unscathed, where there is no room for error, since the river rapidly narrows, making a tight turn between a cliff and some boulders. Between these obstructions, the river waters shoot quickly upwards, and then just as suddenly, plummet downwards like a raging waterfall! The worst part of all is that you don’t know what to expect due to the bend in the river. All of a sudden, the roaring rapids are upon you, just feet ahead, and you’ve got to think fast. I just steered directly through it, as there weren’t any other good options. In a short moment, our little boat was funneling through the wild, white waters and soon we were safely on the other side! I’m satisfied to say that we survived this hair-tingling experience and that’s how I’m still here to tell the tale. It was a tad scary at times, but well worth the effort. Hope you enjoyed that wee bit of retelling. Now let’s get back to the business at hand …
Who knows what he intended to accomplish by doing this. Could it be that he was toying with the idea of creating a memorial of sorts? I’m not sure we will ever know. But I will say this, I found another correlation to this specific area that may shed some light on this subject.
While studying a Santa Fe National Forest map I discovered that this area where the images are found is officially shown in a grid box (I believe these are termed ‘survey sections’) as number 23.
Why would this number be important to Fenn?
On pages 146 to 147 of TTOTC, he writes this (speaking of his father): “His name was William Marvin Fenn. He molded so many lives and made such a huge and far-reaching impact on the local society that I was sure everyone would remember him forever. Yet when I looked him up on Google I discovered that he’s buried alongside my mother in row 4 of block 23 at the Hillcrest Cemetery, and that’s about it.”
Based on the fact that an image of Fenn is overlooking the letter ‘R’ in box 23 (or block 23) across the river from the monastery, it seems that he was toying with the idea of creating some kind of memorial on Google Earth to himself and his father. Was the letter ‘R’ supposed to represent ‘Row’, as in ‘Row 4’? Did he not finish his doodling?
So there we have it, the evidence indicates that the whole of Forrest Fenn’s poem and book lead directly to the monastery and this nearby area. Of course, you are all free to continue the search, but I will tell you that we also searched this entire area very thoroughly on a number of camping expeditions there, but all to no avail. We didn’t find Fenn’s alleged treasure trove, which I am now certain is not to be had. The only treasure he leads us to is a symbolic one, as represented by the chest, or Tabernacle, in the monastery church.
The word ‘jarred’ is Fenn’s hint to look closely at the next several pages where he goes into further detail about his jars and bells. On one series of bells he put the saying, “Imagination is Greater than Knowledge,” and yet purposefully took the letter “d” out of the word ‘knowledge’. I believe he is hinting here at the fact that he ‘alleges’ his treasure is real.
Why do I say this? Because when he intentionally misspelled the word knowledge by leaving out the ‘d’, we are left with the words ‘know’ and ‘lege’ (as in, know lege). Therefore he is telling us that we ought to know the meaning of the word ‘lege’.
Well then, what does ‘lege’ mean? One meaning is the word ‘legend’. Well, Fenn certainly is creating a legend with this supposed treasure of his.
Lege can also mean a famous or important person. He most definitely has done this for himself too!
More importantly however, it is an antiquated and abbreviated form of the word ‘allege’. What is the meaning of allege? The definition is: “To assert something without proof.” And there we have it! Fenn appears to telling us that his alleged treasure is just that, ‘alleged’, and nothing more! And he is exactly right, there is actually no physical proof whatsoever. All we have is some photos. This is not proof. Photos can easily be faked, as can the items displayed in the photos, since they may not actually be what they are claimed to be. What if Fenn made many or all of the items himself?
This faulty theory then led me to make a search of the dams north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. By reading up on this subject, I soon discovered that the waters released from a dam are generally much colder than they would be under natural circumstances, since dams typically draw directly from the deep water on the side where the waters are being held back. Therefore it was not long before I focused my attention on the El Vado Dam in northern New Mexico. This dam spans the Rio (river, in Spanish) Chama, which is at the bottom of the Chama Canyon. The Spanish name “El Vado” means “The Ford” in English. Fenn talks about a teacher that he had when he was a boy. Her name? It was Miss Ford. And guess what? She used to try and teach him Spanish, of all things! A ford is a place where one can cross a river or creek, and that’s exactly what we have here. Bravo, Forrest Fenn!
While exploring the area around this dam, I soon discovered that there was a place named Cooper’s El Vado Ranch only a short distance down river from the dam, which incredibly, just so happens to be known locally as the “Home of Brown”! And yes, the ranch even has a ‘put-in’ where people put their boats into the Chama River to ride the river’s wild waters southwards.
My wife and I were so excited by these findings that it wasn’t long before we decided to undertake a river expedition in our own kayak to search for the purported treasure. But for now that is best left for another telling.
To take it a step further, when researching Fairview Cemetery online, I quickly learned that this graveyard is an important historic landmark of Santa Fe due to the number of prominent persons buried there who had an impact on New Mexico’s history. Many of them were freemasons, an important point when one realizes that much of the symbology Fenn uses throughout his book is masonic in origin. Speaking of masonry, which, like the branches of a tree, can take many forms, the site for Fairview Cemetery officially lists eight Woodmen of the World (WOW) members who are interred there.
Upon searching the graveyard, my wife and I found that there are also other deceased WOW members located in this graveyard, but interestingly they are not listed on the site as these eight are. Therefore I focused my research upon the eight WOW members who are listed on Fairview Cemetery’s homepage, and what I was soon to discover turned out to be quite a remarkable revelation indeed.
I knew straightaway that I was onto something when I compared this new evidence with the illustration on page 146 of TTOTC. The symbols used are those of the WOW organization, seen in the axe that a caricature of Fenn is holding and in the tree stumps that fill the field around him. Many of the WOW members’ gravestones are shaped like tree stumps or are engraved with an image of one.
Another symbol frequently used by the Woodmen of the World is that of the dove, often bordered by olive branches, both of which are symbols of ‘peace’. You see the dove in the night sky above, nesting in the moon on page 146 of Fenn’s book! The dove turns out to be of tantamount importance, as does the subject of ‘Peace’, as demonstrated in the line of Fenn’s poem which reads, “Just take the chest and go in peace.”
There is a small pond called the Sapo high up on top of the Mesa Golondrina. This is where the frog (shown on page 133 of TTOTC) symbolically resides. Sapo in Spanish means ‘frog’ or ‘toad’. It is also amazing that this pond is shaped like a 'tear'.
What do frogs frequently do? They leap, jump … and spring! The frog pictured in Fenn’s book is pointing towards the northwest. Is Fenn telling us that we are to follow the springing frog to Spring Canyon which is due northwest of here?
With this in mind, I also found that the only part of Fenn’s poem that did not rhyme are these two lines:
“Begin it where warm waters halt”
“Not far, but too far to walk”
Therefore I changed ‘walk’ to ‘sault’, which comes from French and means to leap, jump or ‘spring’.
In this way, the words ‘halt’ and ‘sault’ rhyme perfectly.
Fenn must have done this intentionally as another means of directing our attention to Spring Canyon from the monastery.
Another clue that matches up to this important point is Fenn’s use of the moon as a metaphor. (See heading, “The Moon,” farther below, where I will delve deeper into this topic.)
First of the quatrain stanzas, or four lines of poetry grouped together, is the following:
Once in Fairview cemetery, not far from the entryway, I found a most interesting configuration of gravestones resembling the assemblage of grave markers shown in the illustration on page 41 of TTOTC. Guess whom I found there: Brown, Frank O. Brown, to be exact.
Right next to this tombstone is George H. Cross. See the cross sticking noticeably out in the illustration on page 41 of TTOTC (another hint).
Then just a few footsteps away is the headstone of George H. Kiefer. Kiefer is the same name as Cooper in German and this is what leads directly to Cooper’s El Vado Ranch in northern New Mexico, which is also known as the “Home of Brown.”
Fenn’s selection of this German name was quite intentional. Not only does it direct searchers to Cooper’s El Vado Ranch, this name also connects with the word ‘halt’, as both derive from the German language (as in, “where warm waters halt”).
By the way, the Brown Trout was also introduced into North America from Germany. Yes there are plenty of hints, hints, and even more hints. Fenn did say they were in his book, and there they are, if one can find them. Consequently, you know that you are in the correct area when you see all these various factors coming together so succinctly.
You will be going up a creek without a paddle because the road is following the river ‘up’ or northwards and you won’t be in a boat, since you are driving on the road where the end is “ever drawing nigh”. Fenn most likely used the word ‘creek’ instead of ‘river’ for several reasons. Firstly, as to not make it too easy for we searchers. Secondly, due the fact that Fenn is originally from Texas where rivers are generally much larger than in New Mexico. Many of New Mexico’s rivers would certainly seem more like creeks to a Texan.
Then there is a shuttle service that will drive your vehicle to one of the take-out locations along the Chama River if you go boating there. Guess what this business is called … ‘Up the Creek Shuttle’, as in: “There’ll be no paddle up your creek.” See there, they’re also calling this river a creek!
Besides all of these points, creek rhymes neatly with meek. So there you have it.
Ah yes, but then again there is yet another creek, ‘Spring Creek’, that is, which also has a part to play in this big puzzle. But I’ll get to that place later, as there is quite a bit more to say on this subject.
“It was more fun to run the risk of being foolish than to watch “Dancing With the Stars.” (Page 139, TTOTC)
“Starrynight” is a ranch in Llaves, New Mexico. I believe this place to be an important marker in Fenn’s TTOTC. I found it to be very telling that most of the illustrations in his book show starry, nighttime skies (pages 41, 43, 69, 71, 145, 146); far too many to be by chance. I understood at once that these pictures must have had an intended purpose.
While searching over Google Maps, I found it. You see the illustration on page 146 in TTOTC, where there is a caricature of Fenn staring up at the dove in the moon in the starry sky? Notice that he has his right leg bent at the knee as he leans upon a tree stump, while also holding an axe (both are WOW symbols). The blade of the axe is pointing away from him.
Here is what this picture is symbolically saying:
Fenn is shown standing at Starrynight Ranch. The use of the knee and the axe blade are classic methods of directional pointing, as with a compass needle. Therefore he is pointing northwards (a compass needle always points north). What is north of this ranch? Due north of this ranch is Spring Canyon!
And it gets even better. Due east of Spring Canyon (also called Nogales Canyon) is the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Fenn is leading searchers directly to this canyon. He even mentions a spring creek in his book, and then there is the Indian maiden, Kateri, with the ‘turtle’ connection as seen in the monastery church. She was a member of the Turtle Clan of her tribe. There is a Turtle Rock in Spring Canyon which points the way to the ancient ruins there.
And I’m just getting started (see heading below: The Moon).
George – earth worker / earth work / farmer
The monks at Christ in the Desert Monastery, who dwell within the Chama River Canyon in northern New Mexico, have worked the earth and farmed the land on their property.
“And take it in the canyon down”: This monastery is south of Cooper’s El Vado Ranch.
Fenn also wrote, “My church is in the mountains.” The monastery has a church, and yes, they are in the mountains north of Santa Fe. The church is even within driving distance from Fenn’s home, taking about one and a half to two hours by car to reach.
Cross – cross / place of a cross / crossroads
Another reference to Christ in the Desert Monastery, where there are also many crosses displayed throughout their property, including on the cliffs above the church.
There is a cross in an illustration on page 41 of TTOTC. This picture represents the grave of George Cross in Fairview Cemetery.
On page 99, Fenn writes about medals that have the word ‘cross’ in their titles.
The monastery displays numerous crosses on its property.
“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.”
Fenn writes, “So now, at last, at least for me I know. And if no one should ever think of me when I have passed this vale, it will be of no consequence, for I have finally found my way and am at peace with all of it.” (Page 103, TTOTC)
In summation, if you are a searcher for Fenn’s alleged treasure and you are still on ‘the chase’, search no longer, for all roads in this quest lead straight to the sacred chest housed in the church of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, where the body of Jesus the Christ symbolically resides.
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54, the “Bible”)
“Why do the yellow and purple flowers flourish where there is no one there to see? The answer is at last obvious to me. No one has to see what is there. The grass sees, and the trees and rushing waters of the spring creek.” (Page 102 of TTOTC)
While reading this I was at once reminded of the old adage: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, did it make any sound?”
This is in line with the idea that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” because more can always be imagined than what is known. So does knowing about something end the imagining of that ‘something’? Not at all, or at least it does not have to.
Fenn is suggesting to us that the pleasure is in the imagining, not in the knowing. As with his alleged treasure, he is basically intimating to us that if we were to actually find it, then the thrill of it would be gone. Therefore he wouldn’t want us, or allow us, to be disappointed by actually finding it, would he? Of course not! What Fenn has done is to create a situation that is a classic ‘irony’, and until people realize this, they are destined to search for something that they are never going to find.
In my opinion, the chest and contents he took photos of are most likely in his vault at his home. Thus accept the only real treasure that he presents to us, where you will not find the treasures of this world. Instead you will find the only true treasure that ever really mattered in the first place!
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.” (Mark 8:36, the “Bible”)
It is important to know that Fenn mentions God more than once in his book, The Thrill of the Chase, therefore it is pertinent to realize that God must play a very important part in Fenn’s life. When you depart from this world, are you going in ‘Peace’, as Fenn and the word written on the monastery sign have suggested? Have you accepted God’s Son Jesus, as represented by the chest in the church? Are you at peace with it all?
On the lower center of this altarpiece is a scene reminiscent of the last supper in the Bible, with a large gathering of people encircling a table set with victuals. On either side of this depiction are the signs of the Alpha and the Omega, which translate as the Beginning and the End (“the end is ever drawing nigh”).
On the eastern side of the road, like some timeless sentinel, stands Owl Rock, a naturally sculpted monolith that resembles an owl. It is part of the towering cliffs that form the high mesa beyond. The owl has traditionally been a symbol for wisdom (to be wise) in many cultures. One reason is that the owl can see things that others cannot, things that are hidden in the dark for instance. We will return to the owl theme soon, as a picture of Owl Rock is in the monastery’s church … where also resides the ‘blaze’ and the ‘chest’.
The ‘wise’ clue does not end there either. The monks just so happen to have their very own brewery. Can you guess what they named their beer? Answer, “Monk’s Wit”! ‘Wit’ is an older, archaic form of ‘wise’. To be wise means to know or have understanding of something in advance. Recall what Fenn said? You will only know what the blaze is if you have figured out the first clue.
Fenn makes mention of this book in the chapter entitled, “Looking for Lewis and Clark,” in TTOTC (pages 59-63). This is another hint to let you know that the Rio Chama is the correct area since there are ruins of a French trapper’s house on the river’s eastern side.
Temple, Texas, is where Fenn lived as a boy. Thus could it be more befitting that his treasure chest is symbolically located in a church, since these words, ‘temple’ and ‘church’, both refer to the house of God.
This town just so happens to be located in ‘Bell’ County! Recall all of Fenn’s bell references?
Temple, Texas, was founded as a ‘railroad’ town in 1881 by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company. Note the obvious connections, such as Fenn’s sympathetic tales about the railroad in Temple, Texas, and the fact that he eventually moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
On page 26 of TTOTC, Fenn writes this:
“What we’ve learned is that you should always tell the truth, but you should not always tell ALL of the truth.”
He also has this to say (page 138):
“It doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters who they think you are.”
I ask you, does this sound like someone you can trust?
But don’t lose all hope just yet. Read further and I will show you that Fenn’s poem does in fact lead to a treasure, and a very real one at that! I believe it to be his way of offering us a ‘consolation prize’ of sorts, and far better than this, the treasure he is trying to send us to is worth much more by far than the one he claims to have hidden. The real treasure is priceless indeed.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” (Matthew 6:19, the “Bible”)
In other words, Fenn should know that he can’t take it with him, his worldly treasures, that is. No matter how much of a tantrum he throws (Fenn said he’ll go “kicking and screaming”), all of the stuff that he holds so dear is not going with him. Naked we each came into this world, and naked we will all leave, with not even the clothes on our backs or the flesh and bones to show for it.
Now without further hesitation, let’s just get straightaway into this thing and start at the beginning, which is always the very best place to start something, don’t you agree! Hence, we arrive at Fenn’s mysterious poem, which I will seek to lay bare from ‘head to foot’, so to speak. And as you will see, the pieces of this puzzle fit together like no other offered solution. So let us begin.
“Life is a game of poker,
Happiness is the pot,
Fate deals you four cards and a joker,
And you play whether you like it or not.” (Page 5 of TTOTC)
The very first ‘wild’ card in the game of poker was not depicted as a joker, but as a tiger!
See the photo of a tiger skin on the bottom of page 86 in TTOTC.
Is this a symbolic reference to Tiger Wall in the Chama River canyon? Tiger Wall is a long cliff stained with black lines that rises sharply up above the western side of the Rio Chama. The black lines resemble the stripes of a tiger. One part of the escarpment even resembles a black panther.
It is even a distinct possibility that Fenn may have known Christopher Gardner, and perhaps even Peter Avery as well, since both of them once lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. But this is just speculation.
Here are some more evidences that lead to this precise location.
On page 6 of TTOTC, Fenn writes, “My mind stays at about thirteen.” On the only road there (Forest Road 151), it is a distance of thirteen miles to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. The monastery is at the end of this ‘Forest’ road. ‘Forrest’ is Fenn’s first name. This dirt road ‘dead ends’ at the monastery and near the beginning of this road is the first Dead End sign.
Fenn believed he was going to die and he wrote, “The end is ever drawing nigh.” On the monastery sign, the words “Dead End” are ‘drawn’, or engraved, on the bottom of this wooden sign. Yes, ‘engraved’! Do you see the word ‘grave’ hidden in there?
On page 16 of TTOTC, Fenn mentions his father’s wooden sign in the ground at the school he attended as a boy. The monastery has a wooden sign sticking out of the ground (keep in mind that wooden signs are something of a rarity anymore).
On page 10 of TTOTC, Fenn mentions the book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and he also writes about making and burying bells in the chapter entitled, “Dancing with the Millennium.”
The monastery has a large bell above the porch of its gift shop building, which is called “The Burning Bush.” Fenn has said in an interview that if there was a treasure hunt when he was a boy, he’d be out searching under every ‘bush’ (hint).
There is another, even larger bell, in the bell tower on the monastery’s church.
Let’s figure the first line first. What does Fenn mean by “From there”? From where? Well. That’s easy enough, from the “home of Brown” (Cooper’s El Vado Ranch) of course, since that is what preceded this line of the poem and that is where searchers should have been last.
As for “it’s no place for the meek,” Fenn might be saying that this next part of the journey is not for the ‘meek’, partly because of where it will lead you and partly due to the adventurous path that will take you there. The road that way is at times rough, narrow and dangerous with steep embankments and cliffs that drop off suddenly into the river chasm below.
Fenn could also be alluding to Matthew 5:5 from the “Bible,” which states, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” So then, could “no place for the meek” be a reference to water? Perhaps the Chama River? Or could it mean that the place Fenn is leading us to is no place for the ‘meek’, because he does not consider the people there or their organization to be meek?
There was also a stranger aspect to this and I’m not sure what to make of it. While looking up the word ‘meek’ and Cooper’s El Vado Ranch online, I found that there was a site on the internet and a video on Youtube from Meek Ranch Sales showing the El Vado Ranch as their listing. I spoke to Bill Cooper, the owner of El Vado Ranch (who goes by ‘Coop’ for short), and he told me that it was a real estate scam and that they were in legal dispute with this ‘Meek’ organization. As such, I’m not sure if Fenn had intended the word ‘meek’ in his poem to be a part of this issue or not. Who knows? But it is a strange twist for sure, therefore I thought I’d mention it.
This then brings us south of Cooper’s Ranch in El Vado. It certainly does not mean in the ground below the ranch, because all of the other parts of the poem simply do not apply here. So don’t go digging there, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Therefore, the next thing I did was to start looking at a map to see what is south of the ranch. Fenn did mention that you should have a good map handy. Downriver is southwards and the Rio Chama flows in that direction.
Before long I observed that there was only one other way to enter the Chama River Canyon to the south by car. You must depart from the El Vado area and make a long circuitous journey all of the way down to a little known route numbered 151. The entrance off Route 84 is close to the infamous Ghost Ranch, which has a sinister history. Look up the history of it and you’ll see.
What then will be cold about our effort to gain the treasure?
On page 111 of TTOTC, Fenn writes about how bronze always feels cold even when in a warm environment. Fenn tells us his ‘alleged’ treasure chest is made of this metal. So is this the cold he is alluding to? Or is he once again resorting to symbolisms?
If Fenn is speaking in metaphors, as he is often wont to do, then perhaps the word ‘cold’ means something else. It could be that he’s referring to the fact that the church at the monastery is always cold. It was every time I was there, which was at various seasons of the year. I’m not sure that they have heat in that particular building and I do know that they are off the grid and must supply all of their own heat and electricity by solar power.
Worse yet, is Fenn being a bit sarcastic? Is he really saying that the feel of the monastery and its monks is ‘cold’, that they lack warmth, in the emotional, intellectual or spiritual sense. This is a distinct possibility. Many of the monks there do seem rather distant, and even standoffish much of the time. Of course their vows of silence don’t alleviate this issue much either, especially to visitors who are not accustomed to seeing people who will not respond or communicate most of the time.
Again this may be why Fenn seems to be advocating that someone wrest their sacred chest, or Tabernacle, from them and make a quick getaway. Perhaps he believes that they do not deserve to be the keepers of such an important symbol. Is he accusing them of being hypocrites, or worse? Or does Fenn find religion in general to be a hypocritical thing.
Honestly I’m not certain if any one, all, or none of my suggestions are the answer(s) to this particular part of Fenn’s poem, as this is all just theory and speculation about what is meant by this line. Yet I do believe that Fenn purposed for searchers to reach the monastery’s church and thereby find the symbolic treasure that awaited them there.
All roads in Fenn’s ‘Chase’ lead directly to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, also known as the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert, located near the town of Abiquiu in northern New Mexico.
How do I know this? Read on and you shall see …
Fenn writes on page 133 of TTOTC:
“I dreamed the other night that I had been reincarnated as Captain Kidd and went to Gardiner’s Island looking for the treasure. It scared me so badly I was jarred awake and don’t remember whether I found it or not.”
As a metaphor, a desert can be expressed as a sea or an ocean, as in an ‘Ocean of Sand’. Thus Fenn is symbolically equating the Monastery of Christ in the Desert to Gardiner’s Island. As a metaphor, the monastery property represents a ‘garden island in the midst of a desert’.
This island Fenn refers to in his dream is located off the coast of Long Island, New York, and it is intriguing to know that it was first settled by a nobleman from England by the name of Lion Gardiner. Here is yet another ‘lion’ reference. Fenn was born under the sign of Leo, the lion. The WOW member, Lowitzky, from Fairview Cemetery, also means ‘lion’.
This island’s original Native American name was 'The Land of the Dead'. Do you see the connection with graveyards?
As the tale tells, Captain Kidd hid some of his treasure trove on this island, but unfortunately for him, he was not able to reclaim it before being captured and killed. Kidd came to a bad end, as did a person named Peter Avery, who perished somewhere on or near the grounds of the monastery in a brutal manner.
You can see his grave there alongside that of Christopher Gardner’s. Therefore, Fenn appears to be telling us that this Gardiner’s Island is symbolically the same place as the Monastery of Christ in the Desert of New Mexico. Besides Avery, another person also died near the monastery from a fall off a cliff in Chavez Canyon.
As if the evidence already provided weren’t enough, Fenn supplies us with even more tantalizing hints and clues!
Forrest Fenn's Treasure Hunt & The Thrill of the Chase
Why do I say this? Fenn tells us on page 139 of TTOTC that he had his own foundry. A foundry is where you can melt and cast metals in molds to make all manner of things in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs. Could it be that he’s telling us this as a hint that he created some, or even all, of the items he shows in the photos of his alleged treasures. He may even have made the treasure chest too. If this is the case, Fenn certainly would not want anyone to find these ‘treasures’ of his, as it would expose them as fakes, since these items would not have the historic, cultural, material or monetary value attached to them.
It is also a simple matter to cast objects out of inexpensive metals, such as lead, and then to coat them with gold, silver, bronze or copper paint to make them look authentic. People can be easily fooled by such things, even when they are able to see and touch the items themselves, especially since the metal lead mimics the weight of more precious metals like gold, as it is rather heavy. There have been plenty of instances in history where people have been sold what they thought was gold only to find out later that it was a rock which was painted with gold paint. Could it be that Fenn is giving us a hint that he is really ‘kidding’ us about his alleged treasure with his Captain ‘Kidd’ story?
George – earth worker /earth work / farmer (same as Name 2 above)
Kiefer – German for Cooper / barrel maker
Cooper’s Ranch, El Vado, New Mexico. This location gives searchers an exact area in northern New Mexico where they should begin ‘the Chase’.
Yes, there’s more. Bordering the cemetery to the southwest is the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), also located on Railfan Road. Why is this relevant?
Fenn has stated that some people consider him to be odd (or strange). Supposedly one of the reasons that the Odd Fellows are considered ‘odd’ is that it is an unusual concept that rich men give away some of their wealth to charity and do charitable works for the benefit of society, which is what they maintain they do (as in Fenn giving away his treasure). Could he be a member of this organization? Seems very likely.
One of the symbols used by the Odd Fellows is a skull, which is supposed to represent our mortality in this life. Thus it symbolizes death. There is a bridge over the Chama River called, Skull Bridge! It is important to remember that Fenn said he began this whole affair because he believed that he might not have long to live.
Is any or all of this mere coincidence? I seriously doubt it, especially when we consider that Fenn said he ‘crafted’ his poem over the course of fifteen years, leaving little or nothing to chance.