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Since 2013, I have had the wonderful opportunity each February to ask Forrest Fenn ‘Six Questions’ about not only his Poem leading to his incredible treasure chest filled with gold, but also about his life, and his thoughts concerning the The Thrill of the Chase Treasure Hunt.
Below are all the Questions gathered onto ONE PAGE: all 30 Questions and Answers for your convenience! There are links to the original posts, however, as they will include comments and thoughts about each individual Six Questions underneath their posts.
- 1Q) I am sure you are aware The Thrill of the Chase has captured many hearts and ambitions of those who have read your book. Are you happy with the way the search for your hidden treasure is going? Do you have any regrets; or more importantly, would you like to see anything different in the ways people are chasing the prize?
It was fortunate that two writers, Irene Rawlings and Margie Goldsmith, liked my book enough to review it in national publications. Those stories gave it ignition. The hidden treasure story in the book provided enough propulsion to keep it in the public view long enough for word of mouth traffic to broaden its desire across America and beyond. I am more than pleased with the way it has been accepted. What I didn’t expect was the number of people who immediately started searching maps and using Google Earth to locate their special spots. Many have read my book multiple times looking for additional clues, or even hints that might assist them in the hunt.
- 2Q) You mention one of your most cherished items in your collection is the first arrowhead you ever found. Over the years, what are some other relics you were most thrilled to discover? And why?
I found that little arrowhead when I was nine and it sent me on a lifelong journey of adventure and discovery. I wondered who made it and caused it to be resting at my feet for 1,000 years, waiting for me to pick it up. I still feel the excitement of that day.
In the Saharan desert of Libya I discovered thousands of war relics left over from the tank battles of WW-II: burned out tanks and shell casings were everywhere. And in close proximity were stone projectiles and crudely made hand axes that could have been 30,000 years old. I was looking at conflicts piled on top of conflicts. Who can imagine how many…
- 3Q) Relating to the previous question, since you continue to explore, is there an item which you would love to find still, but just haven’t yet?
There are so many bits of history that I would like to find: a Clovis point between the ribs of a Mammoth, a letter written by my father to my mother before they were married, a special fishing spot on the Madison River that no one alive knows about but me. The list is as endless as the search.
- 4Q) I think I read (but, correct me if I am mistaken), that although you would love the treasure to be found, the discovery of the chest would end the exciting mystery and adventure for those actively seeking, and this would be missed by you. Would you rather the treasure stay hidden for many more years, or are you in hopes that the chest will be found soon?
I am ambivalent about the treasure being found. When it is discovered I hope it is by some deserving person who is emotionally involved and has been rewarded by the other mountain thrills that come with the chase. If it is not found for several hundred years that would be fine with me.
One thing is certain, when a person discovers that beautiful bronze chest and opens it for the first time and sees the bracelet with hundreds of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds, and the 265 gold coins and hundreds of placer nuggets, he will be in awe. It is easy for me to predict the expression on his their face.
- 5Q) From receiving feedback on hunter’s ideas and methods about how to discover the location of the chest, do you feel confident your method in hiding the chest will eventually be understood and the chest be found? Please know, I am not asking for any specifics. My question is more like, do you still feel your poem will lead someone to the treasure?
The person who finds the treasure will have studied the poem over and over, and thought, and analyzed and moved with confidence. Nothing about it will be accidental. T. S. Eliot said:
We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
- 6Q) After reading your book, and sensing you have found a sincere peace and purpose in your life, but knowing others still struggle with this ultimate find, I wonder, what would your advice be to others for realizing the contentment it seems you now know? Do you feel the thrill of the chase (not the hunt) is vital?
There is an appropriate quote in the Duveen biography by Secrest: “They never knew that it was the chase they sought and not the quarry.” I see my memoir as being a story that was ordained by some unknown hand. It came to me at age eighty as though my entire life had been waiting for that moment. The bulk of the book was written in six weeks and phrases that I had never thought of before, suddenly appeared on my computer screen. I said in the forward that the book wrote itself. I had written seven books before this one, and it seemed that none of the lines crossed where they were supposed to, metaphorically speaking.
I don’t feel qualified to give advice but a few ideas that I would like to say have guided me are:
Stay in your job only if you love it.
Get out in the mountains and turn a log over to see what’s there.
Avoid those things that distract you from your self esteem.
The key word is contentment. If you can find it, everything else has already fallen in place.
- 1Q) My previous 6 questions were asked shortly before last year’s February 27th segment of the Today Show. Reporting on your extraordinary treasure hunt, it resulted in an explosion of new seekers from all across the world. What are some of your thoughts about the flurry of activity over the past year? Did the excitement towards the Chase surprise you in any way? Does it make you think the chest might be found earlier than first thought?
It is interesting to know that a great number of people are out there searching. Many are giving serious thought to the clues in my poem, but only a few are in tight focus with a word that is key. The treasure may be discovered sooner than I anticipated.
- 2Q) Many incredible, loving, adventurous, and fun stories are being lived and shared because of The Thrill of the Chase. Even though these hopes were in your mind when writing the book and poem, what are you finding most rewarding about them?
One man said he and his brother dug for buried treasures when they were kids in North Carolina but had not spoken in 25 years. He said he read my book and called his brother. Now they are reunited and searching for my treasure. Children have the greatest imagination because their thoughts run free.
- 3Q) From the first chapter, Toys are Forever, to the last, Mirror on My Wall, your most recent published book, Too Far to Walk, like The Thrill of the Chase, recounts touching stories about your life; tales that as Douglas Preston commented contain ‘million dollar advice and stories on how to lead a fulfilling life.’ Every time I read them, I get this sense of urgency or reminder to ‘ring the bell loudly’(thank-you). Why was it important for you to write about your experiences and thoughts? And would you encourage others to write about their own?
After my Thrill of the Chase book was published my Too Far to Walk book begged to be written. It was easy because I just told some stories and illustrated them with photos from my scrap books. I would encourage everyone to write their memoir. The hardest part is sitting down and getting started.
- 4Q) I feel each person finds himself drawn to a different place; for me it is the beach. I love the warmth of the sun mixed with a cooling breeze and the humbling feeling I get while looking endlessly out into the ocean and listening to the waves. You mention in The Thrill of the Chase it is the mountains which continue to beckon you, and that they always will. What is it about the mountains that make them so special for you? And when did you first realize it?
The mountains are full of activity that fills me with wonder. One of my earliest recollections as a boy was to turn over a rotting log in the forest and watch as a hundred little critters scurried around trying to decide what to do. It’s nature in its rawest moment. I find solace in the solitude of the trees.
- 5Q) The meticulous work documented and described in your book, The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo, certainly express an appreciation and respect for the past. You mention, “Each artifact that is not recovered is a book that will not be read.” What do you hope to yet learn or find there? And while discovering the past, do you feel our modern ways are missing out on earlier enjoyments?
Archaeologists today don’t like to excavate. Their motto is: “Save the Past for the Future.” I think that’s short sighted. For me the future is five minutes from now. We unearthed the only pre-historic kachina dance masks ever found in the Southwest. Archaeologists said they didn’t exist in prehistoric times. So we corrected some misinformation. The past should not have to wait for us any longer.
- 6Q) With Spring around the corner, the planning and search for your treasure will actively pick up again. I want to thank-you for sharing some of your favorite quotes during this cooler period of the hunt. I, and many others, have enjoyed them. In many of your books, interviews, etc., you so often share beautiful words filled with timeless wisdom. Would you be willing to share a few more that hold special insights or thoughts you hold close?
It is fun to arrange words in such a way that you have to smile at the end of a sentence.
Autobiographers always lean toward the subject.
It is important that I drink a martini at least once a year so I can continue to remember why I don’t like them.
All that I could remember was that I was not supposed to forget something.
He was so busy talking he didn’t hear what I was saying.
1Q) Enthusiasm towards finding your treasure continues to remain strong. So many people are enjoying the wonderful opportunity you have given them for such a bold adventure. Considering the many years the hunt has been going on, and from your perspective and interaction with searchers, do you feel searchers are becoming closer to solving the clues to the treasure, or further away? Do you feel over time, some searchers have forgotten beginning basics or thoughts they once had, and might benefit going back to them?
There’s a lot brain power being expended on the blogs by some pretty bright people Jenny, and it seems they are having fun. But the great preponderance of searchers don’t comment publically. Very few tell me exactly where they are looking so I don’t know how close they are to the treasure. I’ve said searchers should go back to the poem so many times that I don’t want to say it again here.
2Q) You have written quite a few books on varying subjects; and if you consider and combine the numerous ‘Scrapbooks, Vignettes, Speed Bumps’, etc on Dal’s site, and the stories/answers to questions here on Mysterious Writings, you could say you have even written another book!; maybe call it; ‘Short Snippets from Forrest Fenn’. What do you enjoy most about writing these? I know we all love them lots!
In those stories I’m just looking back and talking to myself most of the time. It’s fun to be reminded of details I had almost forgotten. Hopefully, readers 500 years from now will find my tales entertaining.
3Q) In your memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, after the poem, you mention there are subtle clues sprinkled throughout that book. You have said you hadn’t deliberately placed these subtle hints in your book; but have you done so in any of your other writings mentioned in Question two (scrapbooks, vignettes, etc)? Or, even if maybe not purposely sprinkled in those writings of Q2, would you consider some of those to contain subtle hints too, like in The Thrill of the Chase?
I don’t want to broaden the clues and hints I’ve written about by pointing them out. What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve.
4Q) Family, friends, memories, etc. are of course some of the greatest treasures; The Thrill of the Chase has given a larger awareness of this to searchers. Thank you. But has The Thrill of the Chase given this to you as well? How has the Chase affected you over these years?
I wrote that book when I was full of wishful thinkings. I wanted to get people interested, energized, and outside. That has happened in such a way that now I live my life vicariously through what I have motivated them to do.
5Q) If you (with Peggy) had another 100 years to live (knew it and felt like it), what are some things you would definitely like to do that you feel time isn’t allowing you to do now?
Great question Jenny, but I don’t know how to respond perceptively or measure the results of my life accurately. During times when I was focused, thinking, and working long hours, I thought that was the only way. Now my wife and I are contented in our singular space where tranquility is important. Maybe it’s just an age thing. I could make an argument to the contrary also.
6Q) Since hiding your treasure chest, your life has certainly gone through change. Do you ever consider sliding into the background of the hunt and saying nothing? And would you rather be remembered for giving a treasure away now or remembered to have hidden a treasure for all to continuously seek and enjoy in the Chase?
It might be better for me to move father away from the story Jenny, but I have never been a successful bystander. What searchers say and think is interesting to me. No one is giving the treasure away. Whoever finds it will have paid their dues and earned the prize. When that happens is incidental, and it is of no consequence that I be remembered. But it is important that the mystery and intrigue of the story continues to excite families and motivate them to get out into the mountains. That has always been my goal.
- 1Q) Our hearts and prayers go out to all those connected to the recent disappearance of a fellow searcher while out on the hunt. The overwhelming support of ‘Fenners’ to bring him home reveals the altruism this group embraces. A powerful, loyal, and admirable community, not only in this time of trial, but at other times too, has been created and realized. Did you ever expect the Thrill of the Chase to develop and bring together such an honorable bunch?
Yes Jenny, because that’s who we are as a people. When times get tough we gather together and help each other. Before Pearl Harbor, when a senior Japanese general was asked what he thought about invading America. He advised against it. He said, “…because there will be a bullet behind every blade of grass.”
- 2Q) Your memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, was released in the fall of 2010, and so it has been over five years since you first offered the choice to get out, explore, enjoy, and find your million-dollar treasure. Numerous people have taken you up on that dare and have experienced adventures of a lifetime. They might not have found your chest of gold, but they have discovered treasures of a different kind. How does knowing this affect you? Is the Chase living up to your original wish for it?
The value of the treasure seems to change with everyone who writes about it, but that doesn’t matter. I feel personally rewarded by knowing that maybe 65,000 people have ventured into the Rocky Mountains looking for the gold and jewels. Nearly all who write me say that the thrills and adventures are more than worth their effort, and many plan to return again.
- 3Q) It seems I ask it every year during these Six Questions, but it is such a curiosity that I have to do so again. Do you feel anyone is getting closer? Do you feel you will get to congratulate the finder of your treasure within the next few years, or do you have a sense it will remain hidden for many more? Can you say?
Searchers speak to me about their search places only in generalities. I don’t know that anyone has been closer to the treasure than about 200’.
- 4Q) You have commented many times your chest of gold is hidden somewhere special to you. That the moment you thought about hiding the chest, you knew right where you were going to conceal it. I’m sure you have other places you consider special. Would you be willing to share some of these, and why you find them so?
No other hiding place was ever seriously considered Jenny. There are places near where I grew up that are dear to me, just like everyone else. If I had it all to do over again the results would be the same, and I can’t think of anything I would change. I feel fortunate that my poem said exactly what I wanted it to say.
- 5Q) Your treasure hunt has inspired people worldwide to discover history, culture and nature, but many people, (even in the US) might be deterred because they don’t live near the Rockies or can’t afford to travel. Should they be deterred? Can a little girl in India, who speaks good English, but only has your poem and a map of the US Rocky Mountains, work out where the treasure is? And would she be confident as she solves each clue, or only confident when she has solved them all?
I wish I had another treasure to hide in the Appalachians. The little girl in India cannot get closer than the first two clues. There are many disabled people who are deeply into maps and geography, and they are having a lot of fun.
- 6Q) The Thrill of the Chase has become part of many people’s lives. People from across the world are searching for your treasure and are determined to not stop searching until it is found. They are fully enjoying the Thrill of the Chase and are in for the long term, if need be. What thoughts, advice, reminders, etc. would you like to most offer them?
I applaud those who are staying in the search, and enjoying what nature has to offer. I will reiterate that the story is real, the chest is where I left it, and it is not in a dangerous place. At age 85 I could go back and get it. But any place can become dangerous for anyone who violates the common sense rules of the chase. Stay out of the mountains in the winter time when it is cold and snow covers the ground.f
- 1Q) Even today, after more than six years of people searching, and after all the news coverage, articles, and stories written about your secreted treasure, some people are just learning about your Thrill of the Chase treasure hunt and getting involved. It continues to inspire. Do you have any advice for these new people? How should they begin the search six years after so many others? Do you feel they are at any disadvantage?
No, fresh eyes and new thinking might provoke a winning idea. I would advise new searchers to look for the clues in my poem and try to marry them to a place on a map. It seems like the longer one thinks about the search the more they complicate the problem.
- 2Q) Many people wonder about the autobiography sealed in the chest. Although tiny in size, it is sure to be an immense pleasure to read. Will there be any surprises for the reader?
About 1990 or so, I learned that my daughters (now ages 56 and 57) didn’t know who Clark Gable was. I was shocked and that’s when I decided to record my family history (my autobiography). I wanted them to know as much as I could remember about my life and the events that largely shaped who I am today, and them, and theirs, in turn. I didn’t have a computer so for several years I jotted remembrances in pencil on a yellow pad, starting with an incident that happened when I was about one. Yes, I remember it vividly. I don’t think my story would be interesting to the average reader.
- Also, since talking about books, how is your book called ‘Closet Stories of Taos’ coming along? The title suggests information for the book would be difficult to discover. How did you come by the information? Can you share something interesting now?
I have largely retired from book writing, although I have three more in my computer, all over half finished. But my calendar is running out of pages and I am not distressed by realizing that no shelf will hold any of those books.
The one I like best is Closet Stories of Taos. It’s a gossip book about the artists and characters who lived in that little town at the turn into the 20th century; Doughbelly Price. Mace McHorse, Long John Dunn, Teresita Ferguson, Arthur Manby, and the artists.
During my gallery days I purchased the estates of several early Taos artists, and acquired the personal papers of a few more. Therein I learned the juicy flavors that make that book so interesting. I tell the story about Long John Dunn (very few people know that wasn’t his real name). Everyone loved him although he killed two men in Texas. He was on trial for cattle rustling but jumped through a window and on the first horse he saw. And he picked up a rope that was lying on the ground, and made good his escape through a thunderstorm of bullets and bad language. He said he was miles down the road before he realized there was a horse tied to the rope he picked up.
- 3Q) I’m wondering if you could create a day, what would it be filled with? Is there something you wanted to explore but the opportunity never presented itself to fully take hold of? And then I’m wondering if you would be willing to share what a day in your life is like now? Do you wish it to be different in anyway or do you feel the contentment of a life being well lived?
Jenny, I must laugh at the question. My answer begs you to give me forty more years of life and see what happens. My 86 years of experiences have filled my mind with many things I would like to do. There is so much to be learned by failing, and I may be the world’s leading authority on that subject. My days now are filled with tending to domestic chores, an occasional lunch with friends, and compensating.
- 4Q)Some of those kids from Peñasco are very bright. The treasure will be found by someone who followed the clues to the location. To me, that is the only plausible recipe.4Q) I’ve heard our adorable Little Girl from India decided to start writing a Little Kid from Peñasco. They are fully enjoying and excitedly exploring areas they feel your treasure poem could lead to. They’ve researched via maps, history books, and the internet. However, since she has been told she can’t get closer than two clues to the treasure, she’s planning a trip to not only personally meet the Little Kid from Peñasco, but to search the Rockies for your treasure. How do you imagine their search will go? Can she now find the treasure?
- 5Q) The following quote inspires me to do more and to realize each moment of the day spent is an investment into what we leave behind; ‘The Goal isn’t to live forever but to create something that will’. You’re living a grand life, and have created things which will live on when gone. Besides the Chase, which I know fills hearts around the world, what are some other investments made in your life which offer warm smiles to you now, knowing they were worthwhile and will live on too?
Thanks for that Jenny. My family has been my biggest investment and has brought the most important rewards. My memory is filled with little pleasures that are renewed every time I think of them. I remember when my two daughters were about 12 and 13. They were doing little irritating things that kids that age do. One was staying up too late, and another was talking on the phone too much. Our home phone was also our business phone, and we had only one line. So one day I called them together for a meeting. I told them that I was proud of the way they were conducting themselves. I said, “Because you are so responsible your mother and I have decided to let you make all of the decisions related to your personal life. But if we discover that you can’t handle those responsibilities we will continue making decisions for you.” It was so funny, because they seemed to grow up overnight. They stopped doing most of the things that were irritating to me. I guess all families have similar stories.
Plus, some learned people will diss me for saying this, but I believe not having much of a education gave me an advantage in some important ways. Not knowing what I was doing forced me to learn fast, and to not test the depth of the water with both feet. A few very important breaks luckily came to me accidentally.
The military taught me discipline, gave me purpose, and demanded a good work code. Being a fighter pilot taught me to think fast and to depend on myself because most of the time there no one else was around. Owning a retail business taught me to hire people who were smarter than I was, and then sit down and leave them alone.
My assets are not unique to me but I was savvy enough to take advantage of what I had: imagination and guts, an awesome twosome. I had the ability to make important decisions right now and the wisdom to change them just as fast if necessary. And I was willing to hustle hard. One of my rules was, “Show me a man who owns a business and works an eight hour day, and I’ll show you a failure.”
- 6Q) After each year’s questions, I begin to think ‘oh maybe I should have asked that one instead’ or ‘I wonder if you would have rather answered something else.’ So my last question now is to ask ‘is there a question you would like me to ask, and then will you answer it? I’m always just so honored to share your words and I don’t want to limit any you might want to share with everyone.
Jenny, you are a dichotomy in its greatest moment, and an aberration also. Your mind is always seeking and planning alternatives. Reminds me of the reporter who asked, “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show.”I have studied your web site and seen how you are so in control. I have spent hours with you and your husband, and have noticed how well you use understatement to your advantage. I think you are baiting me with your question, but I will answer it anyway. I see a rare opportunity so I must give this question a lot of thought.
Forrest, You seem to have a lot of confidence and believe you can do anything. Do you think you could have been good artist?
More Forrest Fenn Treasure Resource Pages from MW in Progress……..