Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Chest Awaits You!

The Chest! photograph by Forrest Fenn

Santa Fe is the City Different for too many reasons to list, but I think one of the main reasons is our vast number of true characters. One of those characters is Forrest Fenn. Forrest has been a treasure hunter, some would say grave robber, for sixty years. Think a mummified falcon from King Tut’s tomb, Sitting Bull’s peace pipe, a 2,000 year old necklace.

For over twenty years he ran a famous and prestigious gallery selling art and antiquities near the Old Santa Fe Trail. He became famous for his Indiana Jones personae and rich lifestyle. His clients were famous, too,  like John Wayne, Jackie Kennedy, Ralph Lauren, and President Ford, just to name a few.

Forrest is now around 82 years old. The twinkle in his eye and love of life on a large stage remains. That he is alive is a bit of a surprise to him. Several years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. Like any true adventurer, he came up with a dramatic plan for his death. Rather than die in a hospital bed, he filled a chest full of gold, jewelry with rubies, sapphires and diamonds, and ancient treasures and planned to walk out into the desert to die. As fate would have it, his plan was curtailed when he up and lived.

So what to do? He had already filled the chest. If you are Forrest Fenn, you go up into the mountains north of Santa Fe and hide the chest chock full of nearly two million dollars worth of treasures. You also write a memoir “The Thrill of the Chase,” which, according to Forrest,  includes all the clues you need to find the chest. The memoir is only available for sale at Collected Works Bookstore. Forrest donated the books to the store. A percentage from the sale of each book goes to charity.

So come on out to Santa Fe, head to Collected Works for a copy of his book, dress warmly and start looking. A pot of gold is waiting for you in them there hills. Oh, and bring a copy of this  twenty-four line poem which Forrest says contains all the clues. It may not be a literary masterpiece but it is worth over two million dollars:

“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.


Begin it where warm waters halt

And take it in the canyon down,

Not far, but too far to walk.

Put in below the home of Brown.


From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.


If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.


So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know,

I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak.


So hear me all and listen good,

Your efforts will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.


Footnote: Thanks to a reader in West Virginia for reminding me of the story of Forrest and his treasure chest.


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