Forrest Fenn, Home of Brown, and the Grail Legend

It has been said by Forrest Fenn many times, “I didn’t say I buried the treasure chest, I have said that I hid it.” He has been saying this since the beginning of the hunt and it has been taken to mean, the bronze chest is not confirmed to be buried, but it could be. Well, I am wondering why he doesn’t just say if it is buried or not?

One of the reasons could be how most of us define ‘bury’. Buried often conjures the image of ‘placed in the ground and covered with earth.’ Does Forrest feel if he says it’s ‘buried’, we would all have this image of it being ‘buried in the ground’ in our heads, and it is actually ‘buried’ another way? If this is the case, ‘hidden’ would be best stated because it covers all thoughts and doesn’t mislead at all.

But then I noticed an interesting addition to one article which quoted Forrest saying, ‘I didn’t say I buried it’. He then added, “That doesn’t mean it isn’t, but I just didn’t want to give it as a clue.” So I suppose my question of why doesn’t he just say it isn’t buried or not is answered. It is because he doesn’t want to give it as a clue.

This made me wonder if ‘this clue’ (whether it is buried or not) is then found in the poem. For if a line in the poem could give the meaning ‘the treasure is buried (or not)’, then it is very important Forrest Fenn never reveals whether it is or not. Because if he gave it as a clue, then no one would look for that clue in the poem’s understanding.

So, is there a line in the poem which could direct the seeker to know if the ‘treasure is buried or not.’ I think there is a possibility, and it involves the ‘home of Brown’.

Most are aware of the T.S. Eliot quote Forrest shared in Six Questions. This was not the first time he has used it. He includes the part, “….and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know it for the first time”, in his book, The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo. This book was published in 2004. For me, this suggests the quote was not a passing thought to add to 6Q’s, but it is a belief Forrest has held dear for many years. It also suggests to me, since he seems fond of Eliot’s quote, Forrest may have read other T.S. Eliot writings.

One of Eliot’s most famous works is The Waste Land. Readers of The Waste Land are informed by his notes that it was inspired by Jessie Weston’s book entitled From Ritual to Romance. To briefly and partially summarize, Weston’s book speaks of the Grail legend and how the king and his land have lost its fruitfulness. And it is the questing knights who hold the land’s cure for the dying land.

I think Eliot’s poem contains some of Forrest’s thoughts about the changing ways of time. Although there are many meanings to be found in Eliot’s words of The Waste Land, one is the damage modern society can cause, and the joyful remembrance of the past.

This is relatable to the reasons for the creation of  The Thrill of the Chase. Forrest is often quoted saying he created the hunt to get children away from their electronics, families out exploring, and generally, to just get people to enjoy the country again. It would seem he does not like the ‘modern’ ways which have possibly caused the land to ‘wither’.

In The Waste Land, the land is described as ‘brown’. Like mentioned, it is reminiscent of the Fisher King’s land which has withered and become barren in the Grail legend. This land is not only the color of brown, but it can be called Brown. I don’t want to go into further meaning here, but in order to ‘heal’ the land; it connects to the Quest… or the thrill of the chase.

Now it is true, it is not for certain whether it connects to Forrest’s Thrill of the Chase. Or if even his thoughts on ‘let them experience the quest’ relates to how the land is healed, even though they seem similar. But it is possible.

Did Forrest know and associate Eliot’s Waste Land to his poem? Could Brown, the waste land, refer to ‘our land’? If so, could the ‘home of Brown’ imply the ‘Earth.’ What is the home of the ‘Waste Land’? It is the Earth. (as one meaning)

So ‘Put in below the home of Brown’ could imply ‘put in below the earth’ and indicate to the seeker the treasure is buried.

The next line after ‘Put in below the home of Brown’ is ‘From there it’s no place for the meek’. I suppose most feel ‘there’ would refer to the previous understood location. In which case, if the above interpretation is pursued, it could read, From there/below the earth, it’s no place for the meek. Could this suggest a cave?

Does the second stanza take you to the spot, and the third describe it? No place for the meek. End is near. No paddle up your creek; the creek (water flow) which may have created the cave is now gone? Heavy loads could imply the earth above you? and water high suggesting you are below?

Just some things to consider, put a side, or discard. I am not sure which I am going to do yet.  I do like how both Eliot’s The Waste Land and Forrest’s poem includes the following mentioning of peace, though.  And I will leave you with it too.

Eliot’s The Waste Land ends with “Shantih, Shantih, Shantih” which is Sanskrit for ‘the peace which passeth understanding’.

Forrest’s poem tells us to ‘just take the chest and go in peace’. However, we can only do this once we understand.

Best of luck with whatever you seek!


Other links on the treasure hunt:  The Thill of the Chase by Forrest Fenn links

Other articles on ‘home of Brown’:

Forrest Fenn’s Poem Line: Put in below the home of Brown

Possible Location of Treasure: home of Brown


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28 Responses

  1. astree says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Very nice way to tie the various thoughts together. When I can find time, I’d like to explore The Waste Land, for its own merit, as well.

    I, too, wondered at his consistent and repeated wording of the “I just didn’t want to give it as a clue”. Maybe he is signaling something that will be better understood when his puzzle is unlocked.

    BROWN ?


  2. Sixer/Jenny says:

    It would seem to me, if it wasn’t buried (in some way), then he would say ‘it isn’t buried’. Especially since there has been people who have dug in unappropriate places. And, if it is buried (in some way), it is interesting to explore the poem to see if there is direction in saying so.

    • Phillip says:

      Forrest has told me he just does not want to give this as a clue.
      This was in response to my suggestion that he clarify this in order to keep the diggers at bay as much as possible. He told me he has heard of a guy using a bull dozer at a spot by the Dunn Bridge.
      If you read the body of evidence out there it seems pretty clear it is not buried but Forrest is not prepared to state that emphatically for some reason.

      • Mapsmith says:

        I think the reason isn’t as straightforward as he wants to say its buried or he doesn’t want to say.
        Some- if not many, puzzlehunt makers avoid defining clues because the true answer is ambiguous/ can be seen as partly both of two options. Example: if the puzzle says the clue/prize/whatever is hidden “Up high” do they mean higher than most cities (elevation/altitude) or do they simply mean it’s higher than their own eye height? (like in a tree, or a high shelf only a tall person can see). If it’s in a tree AND on top of a mountain, both apply. If it’s in a tree in death valley, it’s still “up high” but some people who hitched their wagon to “high as in elevation” will be upset; if it’s underground but on Mt McKinley, it’s also “up high” but those hitching their wagons to the tall person’s POV/up-in-a-tree theory might be upset. By avoiding giving it as a clue, the puzzlemaker avoids ever painting themselves in a corner with a portion of their audience. Then again, “up high” might actually really mean that you have to head ‘up’ NORTH on the HIGHway, in which case a whole lot of people will be upset/disappointed. I think it’s better and wiser for the fun of the game to simply say “I prefer not to give that as a clue, either way”.
        The poem doesn’t say buried. FF isn’t willing to say its buried or its not. I think -IMO- we can figure out that all this means is that it’s not important to the finding of the Chest. i.e. If you read the other clues right, you’ll be able to find the chest, whether it’s buried or not.

    • eric says:

      It’s not buried, but is underground. Ill say that much…

  3. Alex says:

    Couple Ideas on home of Brown.

    If it is in New Mexico: 1) I saw the video on the guy who said he thought he meant Brown trout, since fenn refers to fishing a lot, I don’t rule it out. 2) But there is another theme that he revisits in his book and that is the theme of graveyards as a coming home. So maybe “home of Brown” is the grave of someone of significance to Fenn named Brown.

    If not in New Mexico: Brown’s hole in northern Colorado would be a good place to start searching. Since you have to find a “blaze”- Browns hole gets run off from “Flaming Gorge”

    or maybe ive been googling too much

  4. Eliza says:

    Hi all-

    I have a few ideas about how the search is supposed to begin. First, I think that the double omega at the end of the book, (and maybe the author’s initials!) point towards some clues having two interpretations. In the first place, “Begin it where warm waters halt” may tell us two things: (1) you have Fenn’s blessing to start out with WWW (the internet) and (2) to look for hot springs. Most of the hot springs in the American Rockies are in Colorado, close to Denver and Colorado Springs. Which brings us to home of Brown. The first interpretation might be a place where you can fish for brown trout (lots of you have suggested this). A second possibility is more obscure: the home of the late Charles Schultz, who created Charlie Brown, is in Colorado Springs. The poem tells us to travel below the home of Brown. If you google “Colorado Hot Springs” and write down all of the towns where they are located (there are seven), six are at higher elevations than Colorado Springs, but only one is lower: Glenwood Springs. At 5,761 feet, it is still above the magic 5,000 foot mark specified by Fenn. Finally, “blaze” may have two meanings. There was a famous, and terribly tragic, fire near Glenwood Springs in 1994 in which 14 firefighters were lost. It was known as the South Canyon Fire. Blaze may also refer to some type of mark on a tree. As you might expect, there are many creeks and waterfalls in this area.

    I have no idea how to narrow the search from here, but I would consider Glenwood Springs, CO, and the nearby Glenwood Canyon, as good places to start.


  5. Eliza says:

    This is one way the puzzle might be put together. It extends what I posted yesterday.

    The nine clues generate a treasure map with the following elements:

    1) A specific town
    2) A main road from that town
    3) A secondary path off the main road
    4) A final location
    5) A local site map to pinpoint the box

    The announcement that there are exactly nine clues may be important.

    We begin with “where warm waters halt.” This is a double clue; we are to look for a location with hot springs, and it gives us www. (halt=stop=period.) The latter suggests that the internet might be helpful, particularly early on.

    “Below the home of Brown” is the hardest clue. The idea that this might have to do with Charlie Brown came from Doc on the Tweleve website. Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts, lived in Colorado Springs. If you list the popular hot springs locations that are “not, far, but to far to walk” from Colorado Springs, it turns out that you have to walk “up” to all of them except one, Glenwood Springs, elevation 5,761 feet. “Brown” is probably another double clue as the final destination is a body of water containing trout.

    As suggested by others, “too far” is an early clue that you will need to cross at least one bridge at some point.

    For the first time we encounter what I suspect is Fenn’s primary puzzling technique: scattering components of a clue in the puzzle which have to be assembled. I am not totally comfortable with what I think is the first one:

    “canyon down” = small canyon = glen. Glen + wood = Glenwood. This is one reason why wood might be missing the S on the end.

    The next example works better. “The end is ever drawing nigh” seems pretty vague as a clue. It corresponds to Death. “Blaze” is a triple clue (Fenn gave this away in an interview) corresponding to (1) the famous fire near Glenwood Springs in 1994, (2) a mark on a tree, or (3) a mark on a horse’s face. Then we are given “creek” for free. Assemble and you get Dead Horse Creek (about 7 miles from Glenwood Springs), which is where you find Dead Horse Trail, which if followed up the steep canyon wall (crossing some bridges along the way) brings you to Hanging Lake. This, small but spectacular, body of water is indeed “water high.” There is also no way you would be paddling up this particular creek. Finally, if you buy Death = Hanging and just add “water,” you get Hanging Lake. From the various trail guides, I gather that the view of the canyon from here is quite a “marvel.”

    Once you get to Hanging Lake you will see a long dead tree trunk extending well across the water. Again, Dead + blaze/tree = dead tree. Perhaps there is even a mark on it. If you are brave, you can carefully walk out on the trunk without falling in. Eventually though, you will need to look quickly down, and probably take a quick dip in the cold water to fetch the box. It also might be “in the wood.” Swimming is forbidden in the lake, and this became a bigger local issue in 2010. My guess is that Fenn hid the trunk under the water/in the tree before it was considered to be a bad idea.

    The clues I used are contained in eight couplets. What is the ninth clue? One possibility: there are six stanzas in the poem. The main road leading from Glenwood Springs to the Dead Horse Trail is Route 6.

    Anyway, that’s my take:

    Glenwood Springs, CO
    Route 6
    Dead Horse Creek/Trail
    Hanging Lake
    Dead tree/quick dip.



    • Jenny Kile says:

      Lots of great ideas to think about there Eliza!

      I am assuming your thoughts for ‘Not far, but too far to walk’ to suggest crossing a bridge is because of the well-known book of ‘A Bridge Too Far’? Because it is such a vague line, and we should be given precise directions… ‘crossing a bridge’ to be the meaning for it sounds like a very good possibility.

      The Glenwood connection with hot springs and the ending of ‘in the wood’ are interesting too.

  6. Eliza says:

    Hi Jenny-

    The reference is correct. I do not think this would be an important clue, just a nice confirmer as one walks up Dead Horse Trail.


  7. Eliza says:

    Why Charlie Brown and not Molly Brown (from Denver), as has been suggested by others? Consider the tenth clue, telling us that the box is hidden above 5,000 feet. At first glance, this isn’t very helpful in terms of identifying a particular location. I think the clue has a more subtle goal: to make the point that the elevation at which the box is hidden is important.

    Denver is below all of the local candidates for a popular hot springs spot. Colorado Springs, however, is at just the right elevation to flag just one: Glenwood Springs, which is also above 5,000 feet (but not by much). In other words, the elevation logic based on “below the home of Brown” only works if you choose the right Brown. (The capital B suggests it might be someone’s name).

    Some of the subsequent clues may have been red herrings to prevent too much focus on this one.



  8. Eliza says:

    Some additional thoughts.

    Regarding how the puzzle specifies the route between Glenwood Springs and the point near Hanging Lake where one starts climbing, it turns out that this stretch of road is part of US 70, US 6, as well as US 24. There are 6 stanzas and 24 lines in the poem, and if you want to stretch it, about 70 words in the poem that are likely to be relevant to the solution.

    Regarding Charlie versus Molly Brown, it may be both. The word “marvel” brings to mind comics. More importantly, if you drive to Glenville Springs from Colorado Springs via Route 24, you pass through Leadville, Colorado, where Molly Brown grew up and where she met Mr. Brown. Leadville is less than 90 miles by car from Glenwood Springs, a distance that corresponds better to “not to far but too far to walk.” Now consider the line “Put in below the house of Brown.” The word “Put” seems somewhat awkward and forced. But notice that this line is the only one in the poem with two capital letters: PB, the symbol on the periodic table for lead.


  9. nick says:

    How about under or in a brown beaver house? Treasure in a pond or body of water would be submerged, not burried. Or put in a beaver house as well.

  10. Chris Yates says:

    before you take the chest and go in peace, the previous line is but tarry scant with marvel gaze. the start of this line, but tarry, has the letters in order for ‘bury’… (bu)t tar(ry)

    a possible hint in the book connects this with home of brown in that ‘but tarry’ can sound like ‘buttery’ relating to the sliding down the post which stained the but of his pants brown

    another thing i noticed in the last line of the poem, and using the previous letter in line 23, are the consecutive letters d i g

    brave and in the woo (d i g) ive you title …

    the comma which is used fairly profusely at the end of lines throughout the poem, is left out here

  11. Very good points people. Just imagine k,s of yrs from now the clues will still have to leed to treasure and poem was strategic, the blaze will be sunlight or a marking on a rock, metal or historic monument of some sort that will be around forever

  12. Mark says:

    My guess is that is somewhere near Yellowstone. There was a fire in the Yellowstone area in 1988. Here’s a link to a map of where the fire burned:
    Think about the time he hid it. That fire fits in perfectly with the poem.
    The poem references warm water. There are hot springs in Yellowstone. There’s a creek. You get to near the end of the creek, and there should be a cave. To get back to the start requires you to go upstream.

  13. Seth says:

    FF mentions that he placed the chest over the course of the afternoon and it took him 2 trips. Aside from some trickery of his words or answer I would wager the following. 1) 80 year old man, 2) took 2 trips from his parked car to place the treasure. Above 5000′, below 10,200 feet elevation. carrying 20 lbs plus maybe 5 pounds of other gear for safety sake the average person in decent health and physical condition will likely cover no more than 2 miles/hour. This makes me think that the chest is 1-1.5 miles from the parking location of the car. The chest is also not supposed to be near a man made trail…so this might hint at a slower pace depending on the route…unless it hints at a deer trail or other animal/natural path. Also if there is a lot of climbing or descending this would further impact the pace. So the clues may indicate the treasure is quite some distance from the starting place but this doesn’t mean that you park at the starting place.

  1. May 11, 2013

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