Fenn sealed the 42-pound chest. He lifted it into his car and drove into the
mountains. He returned 42 pounds lighter and a few million dollars poorer.
was a culminating moment.
He told the TODAY Show, “a big part of me [is] in
that treasure chest. I felt it go in as I closed the lid for the last
Fenn is creating a legacy for himself, a legacy increasingly important to him since his diagnoses of terminal cancer.
for his art and artifact collection, Forrest Fenn didn’t inherit his fortune.
Nor was he destined to build it. Fenn’s father was a schoolteacher and Fenn was
a poor student.
After graduating high school, Fenn decided to abandon the desk life for the Air Force.
years and the Vietnam War brought Fenn hundreds of missions and many
decorations. In 1970, Fenn retired. But after 20 of service, Fenn wasn’t ready
“The day after I retired, I woke up and was about to
go out when my wife asked me where I was going," he tells SFR. "That’s when I realized I didn’t
have anywhere to go. After 20 years, you kind of get into a habit.”
started looking for a new place to move. He decided on Santa Fe. He brought his wife and
two kids to Paseo De Peralta and founded Fenn Gallery.
While living off his military pension, Fenn gradually built a business around artifacts found in or bought from nearby pueblos.
The years passed and ver the next decade, Fenn accumulated a fortune. By the mid-80s it was growing by the day.
one day in 1988, everything stopped.
Fenn’s doctor found advanced kidney
cancer. Fenn had a one in five chance of seeing 1991. He looked around him.
What of his wealth would accompany him after death? Not a dime nor arrowhead.
Fenn started thinking. What could he do with this stuff? What mattered to him? How
could Fenn share both his outdoorsman passion and his amazing success?
The idea slowly dawned on him: a treasure hunt.
Though his cancer disappeared soon after
his diagnosis, Fenn stuck with his plan. He spent years selecting his treasure
trove and crafting a poem leading to the chest’s location.
Besides this, he’ll offer no other clues, “Just the poem,” he tess us.
Two summers ago, Fenn finally dropped the box.
thousands are scrambling for it. With a copy of Fenn’s autobiography Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir, in hand. There, Fenn’s
clue-ridden poem appears and treasure hunters across the country are enjoying Fenn’s legacy.
The best part? He's here to watch them.
Featured image via Facebook.