I am Forrest Fenn.

The Place of PeaceI am Forrest Fenn.

I was born in 1930, and have lived during times of great difficulty and great promise.

I am a man of the real world, and not an imaginary one.

I am a man of unshakeable commitment; to my life, to my work, to my service; but most especially, to my family.

I am a man of the outdoors, as was my father before me. From him, I learned to love and respect nature.

I am a man of the past and the future. The present is only a river-washed stepping-stone between them.

I am a man of words and letters. And, if I have to make up my own, I do.

I am a man of contrasts. Sometimes intentional, sometimes not.

I am a man of eclectic tastes and interests. Enough to fill more than a single  lifetime.

I am a man of action and adventure, big and small, but, always with an objective.

I am a man of direction. I know where I am, where I’m going and how I will get there.

So…where would I hide a treasure if I had a treasure that wanted to be hidden?

I would hide it where the ancients and mountain men could appreciate and understand.

I would hide it in place that is magical in its simplicity.

I would hide it near my home, if my home were the mountains and along the river bottoms where dreams and fantasies alike go to play.

I would hide it in the past, and in the future. The present is only a river-washed stepping-stone between them.

I would hide it in The Place of Peace.

I am Forrest Fenn.

Images: Raffle Drawing for the Bronze Jar at Collected Works in Santa Fe

Where DO warm waters halt?

AGK20131226-01As you can see in the attached photo, I’m constantly reverse engineering all, or parts of Fenn’s poem.

For me the poem is closer to literal than metaphorical, and closer to metaphorical than metaphysical. Although, I have sense it contains all three.  When Fenn writes, “Begin it where warm waters halt…” my instinct, and my brain configuration draws me to the literal before even attempting the more difficult (for me) metaphorical or almost impossible (for me) metaphysical.

So, where, exactly, do warm waters halt?

Upon asking the question, I realized I wasn’t quite sure what was the temperature of warm water. A little research indicates there are several ways to define “warm,” ergo there are as many ways to define “warm waters.”

As usual in life, “warm water” means different things to different people. To the chemist for example, “warm” water is 112° F, which is measurably specific. To a game and fish manager it’s temperature that ranges from “about” 55° F (the temperature under which cool water species, like trout, thrive) to “about” 75° F (the temperature above which warm water species, like bass, don’t). When I tested warm water from my kitchen faucet against the inside of my wrist, then measured it, it ws 99° F. Interesting considering normal body temperature is 98.6° F.

The dictionary lists several, but defines the adjective warm as, “Somewhat hotter than temperate; having or producing a comfortable and agreeable degree of heat; moderately hot.” Not very exact.

The National Spa and Pool Institute considers 104° F to be the maximum safe water temperature for adults.  Therefore, spa controls have a limit that prevents heating past 104° F.

But, wait…there’s more. Again, it’s about Fenn.

On one hand, he spent 20 years in the Air Force, most of it as a fighter pilot. My experience with fighter pilots is that they all have a Dr. Jeykyll and Mr. Hyde personality component.

Outside the cockpit, he mimics Mr, Hyde’s flamboyance of inexactitude, a very relaxed look at the physics of life. Close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Very much like the current public iteration of Forrest Fenn, and his responses to treasure hunt related questions.

Inside the cockpit, though, there’s a Dr. Jeykyll concentration on perfection. Turbine pressures, speeds, g-forces, coordinates, directions, distances, radio frequencies, fuel load, weapons count, etc. Want a good example? Count the number of numbers in the TTOTC Chapter entitled “My War for Me.”

Imagine how “…someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe…,” “…not on top of a mountain…,” or “…it’s 300 miles West of Toledo…” would work for a fighter pilot.

So, another questions results.

Which of Fenn’s personalities wrote the poem, Dr. Jeykyll or Mr. Hyde?

I think Mr. Hyde. When Fenn walked away from his aircraft cockpit the last time, he walked away from it in the truest sense of the phrase. He left “exactitude” behind.


Because exactness is an impediment to freedom and independence.

And, if Fenn is anything, he is a high priest of freedom and independence.

So, where do warm waters halt?

Warm waters halt at any boundary where they are literally, metaphorically or metaphysically transformed to any temperature other than warm.

Lukewarm, cool, cold, frozen, hot, or steamed all qualify – and temperature may not be measured in degrees.


Win One of Fenn’s Bronze Jars Filled with Archeological Treasures


Click here to get the latest information on the raffle. (12/31/2013) Fenn has added some new details about the prize on Dal Neitzel’s Blog. Read about it in “Scrapbook Fifty Four.” 01/01/2014). Get the final information on the event live stream here.

About Renelle Jacobson

Renelle Jacobson

Renelle Jacobson

Renelle Jacobson, whose photo you see here is one of the army of searchers looking for Fenn’s hidden treasure. She’s 41, single, and suffers from a rare form of of bone cancer called osteosarchoma. Five years of chemo and several surgeries didn’t kill the disease. So, in 2011, doctors amputated her left leg above the knee. She has a prosthetic leg, but the cancer changes the shape of her limb, making it difficult for her to use the prosthetic.

After searching in Yellowstone several times over the summer, she traveled to Santa Fe to visit with Fenn. Of their first encounter, he wrote,

“When Renelle Jacobson stepped out of her car in my driveway, and walked toward me, I was charmed at first sight. Her smile telegraphed a timeless message: ‘Look out world, because here I come.’

“Renelle Jacobson inspires me in a singular way; her spirit holds me in thrall. Each day she tests the extremes in ways I can’t even imagine. To know her even a little bit, as I do, is to love her a lot.”

Cancer treatments are incredibly expensive, and although Renelle has insurance, it doesn’t cover all the costs. So, never one not to do something, Fenn put together a plan for a raffle on Renelle’s behalf. Every dollar raised will go directly to Renelle to help her pay the costs of her treatment.

You can read more about Renelle from Fenn’s perspective on Dal Neitzel’s blog, here.

The Prize

As he described in the chapter entitled  “Dancing with the Millennium” in “The Thrill of the Chase,” Fenn hand forms bells and jars made from wax, then has them cast in bronze at Shidoni Foundry North of Santa Fe. He’s made over 30 of them, his handiwork embedded with his fingerprints transferred to the wax and then to the bronze. He’s buried many of them in the mountains and deserts of the Southwest in holes so deep they could not be found with a metal detector. He imagines they will be found thousands of years from now.

The Prize

The Prize

And, now you can buy a ticket to own one of these unique and priceless treasures: a brass jar, hand made by Forrest Fenn.

But, as they say on TV, that’s not all.

Fenn has packed the jar with a few prehistoric and early historic objects  from his own collection. The artifacts are full of history that would fill a hundred books if they could speak. Many of the objects came from his excavation at San Lazaro Pueblo. And, others have come from other locations. Note the example of the Clovis Point in the upper right hand corner of the photo above, rarely seen outside a glass case of a museum’s archeology exhibit. Yours to keep!

Wait, I’m not done. There’s more.

Fenn has promised that if whoever wins the raffle brings the jar to him, he will tell them what he knows about each of the items. Independent of Fenn’s offer, I will offer to document the meeting between Fenn and the winner of the prize in still and moving images, theirs to keep.

The Tickets

Tickets are $25 each, or 5 for $100. You can purchase them by clicking on the image below, which redirects you to Dal Neitzel’s Blog. Neitzel is a Fenn’s very good and trusted friend. After your purchase using PayPal, you’ll receive an email from Neitzel containing your ticket numbers.

Raffle Link

I can’t imagine a better way to spend $25 or more during this holiday season. This is a unique opportunity to help someone in need and to potentially win the only example of Fenn’s bronze jars and bells that will remain unburied.

Please purchase one or more raffle tickets today.

To buy Fenn’s books or not? That is the question.

I recently received a comment from one of my regular contributors, a searcher who puts much thought into his effort. There was a question at the end of his comment. He wrote, “Lately I have kept researching my general area and feel strongly about my approach. I am considering purchasing both [of Fenn’s books,] “The Thrill of the Chase” and “Too Far to Walk” to see what hints jump out to confirm or ruin my area. What say you?”

In a Socratic way, the question stimulated the response I share below:

My Copies of Fenn’s Books

I have purchased both of the books referred to above. I’ve read them both, TTOTC more than once. I also have a copy of Fenn’s book on his San Lazaro pueblo excavation, which I’ve read sporadically, especially when I need something to relax me at bedtime before going to sleep. Not that it’s sleep-inducing, it’s just a comforting read.

The challenge of identifying additional clues or hints in any of his books is made immensely more difficult due to Fenn’s writing style.

He is a natural storyteller. Storytellers naturally embellish. He, by his own admission, takes license with his research, spelling, grammar, punctuation and definition. He makes mistakes, sometimes intentional, sometimes not. He is adorably cunning. He’s intentionally inexact. And, he’s a senior citizen, therefore  his memories aren’t quite as perfect as he would want us to believe.

He wrote his memoir like I would write my memoir, neither of us like Thomas Jefferson wrote his.

As a result, almost everything he writes can be interpreted by someone as a hint or clue that reinforces something they may already want to believe, including their search algorithm. Once a searcher makes a decision that something they have read in one of Fenn’s books supports their particular search algorithm, it naturally becomes part of the algorithm, not only the current one, but future ones as well.

I have fallen prey to it as much as anyone, having convinced myself there is something special about the word “horseshoe” based on one of Fenn’s segues in the book. (Of which I will write more about later.)

I also believe Fenn’s writing style is the primary reason there is so little agreement in the search community about where we imagine he hid his treasure. ChaseChat and Dal Neitzel’s blog, while very useful and informative, have published thousands of posts in which searchers disagree with other searchers solutions, and when they do, cite Fenn’s written or spoken words to support their differing position.

Finally, whenever Fenn is asked whether there are additional hints or clues in the books (independent of the poem), he responds with obfuscation. At the event at Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos, he said, “There are nine clues in the poem, but if you read the book (TTOTC), there are a couple…there are a couple of good hints and there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge.” A couple? Aberrations that live on the edge? What? Either he’s blowing smoke, or we’re all reading way too much into his writing.

So, back to the original question. Would I recommend you buy the books?


I would buy them even if I wasn’t searching for the treasure. I would buy them because they are pretty well written books soulfully composed by a talented storyteller with a great story to tell. I would buy them because they gave me the opportunity to meet him and to have them autographed by him.  I would buy them because they are a pleasant reminder of this period late in my life where I can tell people that “I’m a treasure hunter,” (rather than “retired”) when they asked me what I do for a living.

But mostly, I would buy them because they provide me additional insight to Fenn, the man. And, as I have written in the past, “The key to finding the treasure is in the man. Know the man, and you know the treasure.”

If, in addition, I could give myself a morale boost by identifying some of what he’s written as hints that solidify one or more of my search solutions, then that would be an added benefit.

Buy the books? Yes! You’ll be glad you did.

If you haven’t already, and decide to buy the books, do yourself a favor and call either  Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos or Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, and order the books from them. They’re small businesses that have been very supportive of Fenn and the search community, and they sell the books at list price. Tell them Toby sent you.

On Postmarks in TTOTC

Postmark Graphic: "The Thrill of the Chase" by Forrest Fenn, pg 22.

Postmark Graphic: “The Thrill of the Chase” by Forrest Fenn, pg 22.

Having spent 10 years of my life with the National Security Agency, it is difficult for me not to look for ciphers of various sorts in everything from company logos to Fenn’s Book. (Logos? Really? I once spent a week with EXXON. Take a good look at it the next time you see it.)

Here is a potential cypher in Fenn’s book I find intriguing. (Although I have yet to make anything of it.)

Counting the Epilogue, Fenn’s book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” which includes a chapter on the story of the treasure he hid, is comprised of 26 chapters. (Coincidentally, the same number of letters in the English alphabet.)

Most of the chapters in the book are preceded by a photograph recorded in, what seems to me, a time contemporary to the subject of the chapter that follows. I say most, because not all of the chapters are preceded by photographs, e.g., pg 20 “No Place for Biddies.”

Of the chapters which are preceded by photographs, 20 of them include a postmark as a graphic device, similar to the one in the attached photo from TTOTC/pg 23.  Several of the postmarks are duplicated on the inside front and back cover of the book.

There are 6 chapters which do not  include a postmark at the beginning, even though some of them include a contemporary photo. They are:

  1. Pg 1 Important Literature
  2. Pg 20 No Place for Biddies
  3. Pg 32 My Spanish Toy Factory
  4. Pg 104 Blue Jeans and Hushpuppies Again
  5. Pg 134 Dancing With the Millennium
  6. Pg 144 Epilog

Of the 20 postmarks, the YEAR of the postmark is illegible on 6, (e.g., pg 46) and there are 6 that are “embellished” with additional information, (e.g., pg 56). (The embellishment on pg 121 is difficult to see without an eye loupe.)

(I’m not going to make a big deal out of 6 of this, 6 of that, and 6 of something else. And, if you comment on it, I won’t approve it.)

The postmark that intrigued me the most, and was the basis for this blog post, is the one on pg 72, preceding the chapter entitled “My War for Me.” (This chapter contains 31 pages of the 146 page book, taking more 20% of the book for itself.)

The postmark reads, SATURDAY 27 DEC and the YEAR is illegible. There is a photo on the same page of the Fenn’s the  date they were married, with the caption, “Our wedding, Dec. 27, 1953,” There were obvious differences in the manner in which the two dates were presented, one making the YEAR illegible, and the other not including the DAY.

That curiosity led me to a www.dayoftheweek.org where I entered “December 27, 1953” and clicked “Go.”

The response was “December 27, 1953 is the 361st day of the year 1953 in the Gregorian calendar. There are 4 days remaining until the end of this year. The day of the week is Sunday.”

Who gets married on a Sunday?

Apparently, Fenn. I wrote him to ask about it, and he graciously replied that, indeed, he and Peggy were married on a Sunday, according to her mother’s wishes.

So, why “SATURDAY” on the postmark? One of Fenn’s intentional mistakes to see if we noticed?

I entered the information for the 13 other postmarks in which the YEAR was legible.

Not one of the DAYS are correct, according to the DATE and the YEAR.

Could Fenn’s graphic artist have not been interested enough to check? Well…yes. It’s possible.

But even then, you’d think there would be at least one of the postmarks in which the DAY/DATE combination was correct.

My opinion: the placement of the postmarks, the illegibility of some and embellishment of others, and the DAY/DATE errors are intentional.

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out why.

Another (Uninteded) Clue?

I have often said of this treasure hunt, “While the clues are in the poem, and the hints are in the book, the key is in the man.

You can quote me.

Thus, it is highly likely I spend more time reviewing videos of Fenn’s various interviews than I do reading the poem (which I have already memorized anyway), or scrounging through Fenn’s “The Thrill of the Chase” with a magnifying glass and eye loupe.

I found this gem in the video produced by HDNet and hosted by one of their digital correspondents, Jennifer London. (You can find it here.)

In the video, beginning at the 4:15 mark, Fenn is showing London around his archeological dig, the San Lazaro ancient pueblo, the ruin on property he purchased from the Pueblo Tribes, and has been excavating since the 1980s.

book-s5bk10-450x613(Note: I own a signed first edition of his book entitled “The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo.”  If you had told me, prior to buying this book, I would have read, cover-to-cover, any book on an excavation of a single ancient pueblo in New Mexico, I would have laughed. Not at you, but at the thought of it.

Yet, I did. I read it cover-to-cover.

Because, it is easily read. And, it is written in the same down-home style of his other books. In it you can see his love for the project, and his pride at the discoveries he’s made.)

The clip starts with London’s voiceover background on the project.

Then, we see the two of them and hear this conversation (As usual, my comments are in italics.):

Fenn: Look here what I just found. I started to pick it up, but I thought you might wanna get a shot of it.

London: Oh, this?

Fenn: Yeah.

London: Is this an arrowhead? (You can hear Fenn’s excitement in the short breaths he’s taking before his response.)

Fenn: See…the wind has uncovered that. It’s an arrowhead.

London: Wow…look at that!

London (in voiceover): Fenn bought the land in the early eighties and has been excavating the pueblo ever since. Unearthing treasures isn’t simply a pastime for Fenn…it’s a passion.

Fenn (on camera, but in voiceover): Y’know…there are millions of treasures out here. (Emphasis because he’s referring to San Lazaro.)

(Audio cut) Fenn (continuing): And..y’know…it’s…it’s part of my demeanor, I think. I mean, I live for things like this…a good fishing hole…an Indian ruin. (In B-roll, he’s picked up part of animal’s jaw bone.)

(Video cut to two-up) Fenn (continuing): When I found my first arrowhead when I was nine years old I told myself “That thing has been right in that very spot for thousands of years waiting for me to come along.” That’s a thrill to me.

London (in voiceover): Which leads us back to Fenn’s book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” and the hidden treasure. You see, everything with Fenn is an intricately laced story.

Fenn has said, on more than one occasion, that he hid the treasure in a place that was special to him.

It sits there, waiting for you to come along, and I’ll bet there’s a good fishing hole and an Indian ruin nearby.

Comments are open, but, as usual, require approval.

Your Grandfather, Dying, Hands You a Copy of the Poem.

In the ChaseChat forum, one of the members (SidnCharley) proposed the following hypothetical scenario:

ThePoem“Let’s assume for a minute that you grew up in a remote corner of the globe never having heard of Forrest Fenn or his secreted treasure.  Then, just before he passes, your grandfather hands you a worn out, folded up piece of paper and says, ‘I hope you have as much fun as I did. Now go get the gold!’

After carefully unfolding the yellow paper made brittle by time, your eyes begin soaking up the 24 rhythmic lines which end with this promise “I give you title to the gold.”  Just beneath the final line, scrawled in your grandfather’s shaky script, you see the phrase “All you need is the poem.”

Of course this situation is completely hypothetical, but imagine if it were real and there was no possible way to get more information or know anything else about the chase.  This means you don’t know it’s north of Santa Fe; you don’t know it’s in the Rocky Mountains; you don’t know it’s above 5,000 ft or below  10,200; you don’t know it’s not in Idaho or Utah (or Canada) and you don’t know it’s not associated with any structure.  Also, there are no books (TTOTC, TFTW) to read, no blogs to stalk, no other way to get more information than contained in those 24 simple lines.

Would you ever be able to find the treasure’s precise location?  And, just out of curiosity, does this thought exercise help you look at the poem in a different way?

You can find the entire thread (of multiple pages) here. (And, I recommend, that, if you are not already, become a contributing member in good standing of ChaseChat.)

Here are my thoughts on the matter, as posted on ChaseChat.

As suggested in the well-composed SydnCharley missive above, and, moreover by some of the things Fenn has said, I’m a Treasure Poem Purist – I believe all one needs is Fenn’s poem to locate the hidden treasure chest.

I do not deny that there may be hints in the book. But, what if I couldn’t afford the book? (On the other hand, without the book our character wouldn’t even know to begin in the mountains North of Santa Fe.)

I also do not deny that Fenn has given out “clues” on various occasions. But, Fenn, at the October 22, 2013 event at Collected Works Book Store in Santa Fe, New Mexico said, “I haven’t given a clue (that) I think was going to help anybody substantially.” Before that, he wrote on Dal Netietzel’s Blog, “I will never give a useful clue in any of my emails or other communications, TV or otherwise, nor will I hint away anyone who might be getting close to the treasure. My silence will never be a hint.

And, before that, he responded to an email from a group of San Diego searchers with, “All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem. The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck in the search.”

That leaves the character above with the entire Earth to wander in search of the treasure. Grampa dint give him no hints worth a damn.

He/she only has two things to rely upon to help him/her:

1. the “instructions” their grandfather’s handed them, and
2. their collected knowledge of their grandfather, and his odd behavior.

To me, that means:

1. While the clues are in the poem, and the hints are in the book, the key is in the man. Know your grandfather and you know the treasure.

2. WWWH is not only the first clue, it is, by an order of magnitude, the most important clue.

3. There is an implication that the location, on a map or by reference, of WWWH is glaringly obvious. (Your grandfather knowing that without it being glaringly obvious, you’d have to wander the Earth for the rest of your days.)

4. According to Fenn, a small number of searchers have pinpointed the first (and second) clue, and then they walked right past the treasure chest.

Thus, it was glaringly obvious to them what the man meant when he said, “Begin it where the warm waters halt, and take it in the canyon down…”

The question I’d like to ask one or more of them that located the first clue: “How much of what was in the book, other than the poem, did you use to help you determine where the warm waters halted?”

Apparently, we should be looking at the Forrest, and not the trees.