Forrest Fenn’s Hint of Riches New and Old
Forrest Fenn’s The Thrill of the Chase Poem leads to a fantastic million dollar treasure hidden somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe. I feel so fortunate to be involved in the chase at this early time! When, if the treasure is not found, the future legend of Fenn’s treasure is just beginning.
In Forrest’s recent released book, Too Far to Walk, is a map illustrating the search area. Showing the Rocky Mountains, it spans over four states, from New Mexico to the Canadian border. It covers a huge area. There isn’t any red X marking the spot of the treasure on the Benchmark’s sketch, and so one must decide to begin ‘somewhere’ within this vast range.
Obviously, the starting places are rich. And even though we have been told to ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’, I often wonder if there isn’t a hint to where this is. Could there be a hint to where approximately a person begins?
There are many seekers which believe ‘warm waters’ of the poem refer to certain streams, lakes, and rivers of New Mexico because that particular term is used by fishing authorities in that state; and so they start scouting out places there. Then there are others who like warm waters to refer to hot springs in the more northern states and so they start in those places. There are so many possibilities. These are only two examples, and they lead a person in different directions. And until the treasure is found, any one theory is as good as another.
While I believe the actual ground search does begin with ‘where warm waters halt’, I feel the first stanza just might ‘hint’ to where these ‘warm waters’ could be.
In a recent Q and A session with Forrest Fenn, he mentioned how words have various meanings. He says in the Moby Dickens Bookshop interview around the 48 mark; “I looked up the meaning of words. We really don’t know what some of our words mean. Like what does ‘several’ mean?” Also in that interview he said he changed the poem many times and states, “it looks like simple words, but I guarantee you I worked on that thing..”
We know the words in the puzzle have been chosen carefully then, and I started to consider the last two lines of the first stanza. They are:
“I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.”
I am sure ‘secret where’ catches everyone’s attention. And what are ‘riches new and old’. The whole first stanza is one sentence and seems like it could refer to the same ‘place’. In stories of The Thrill of the Chase and Too Far to Walk, Forrest mentions how he has gone ‘alone’ into Yellowstone. I know this has been discussed a bit. But what if ‘hint of riches new and old’ could also support ‘Yellowstone’? What if it could be interpreted as, “I can keep my secret where(place) and hint of Yellowstone”. I think it’s possible.
Riches can mean abundance, and not only wealth. What is his chest most abundantly filled with?
The bronze chest that Forrest hid contains lots of gold items. There are pre-Columbian gold animal figures, gold placer nuggets from Alaska, a Spanish 17th century gold ring (with large emerald), a gold dragon coat bracelet (containing rubies, emeralds, sapphires and small diamonds), and numerous gold coins. There are other precious items as well, but gold is the most prominent.
This abundance of gold is both ‘new and old’. His hidden treasure chest includes riches, or lots, of gold. Could Forrest have chosen to use the phrase ‘riches of new and old’ to mask the word gold? And if this is the case, why?
Since the origin/meaning of the word gold does come from yellow, and Forrest likes researching the meaning of words, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch for the use of gold to suggest a somewhat ‘coded’ or additional meaning of ‘yellow stone’; especially since the stanza seems to be talking about a place.
Pure speculation, but maybe the poem even once used the line, ‘and hint of riches of gold’ to allude towards ‘yellow stone’; but Forrest thought that was too obvious and changed it. Again total speculation.
So with the above as a thought, I sometimes interpret the first stanza as:
As I have gone alone in there (As I have gone alone to my secret place)
And with my treasures bold (and with the filled chest)
I can keep my secret where (I can keep my secret hiding spot)
And hint of riches new and old (but hint of gold/Yellow Stone)
As always, only ideas. I like the thought that Forrest might have provided a hint to a generalized search area, and the place to actually ‘begin where warm waters halt’ (maybe not the one suggested above, but possibly even another).
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