Having Fun Searching for the Key of The Whistle Pig Treasure Hunt

whistle pig treasure huntSince February 2nd, 2003, the ‘Key’ for The Whistle Pig treasure hunt has remained hidden. The introduction to the hunt states, “without steadfast rules and armed with only vague instructions, you will be forced to open your mind to accept any reference as possible guidance.” And so it goes, with few directions, the search for the supposed ‘unique and unmistakable key on accessible public property within the USA’ continues on for any who dare.

For me, I think one of the significant clues for the hunt is the following sentence; “The value of the key’s physical location can only be discovered by searching out and prizing the allusions and references embedded within the stories.”

This wording suggests to me that it is the ‘Key’s physical location’ that holds the value; that where the search takes you will be realized to have a greater worth once found and after ‘prizing the allusions’.

the whistle pig treasure hunt

image of key in book

I believe it is possible the ‘key’ to find is a mere image of the key pictured in the book; a possible carving or engraving since it is mentioned the Author of the puzzle had recently taken up this artistic hobby. The book never states what the ‘key’ is, promotes ‘passing the book’ (hinting that the key will always be there), and so it is an option to take into account.

I’ve shared in a previous post how I feel the ten short stories of The Whistle Pig hunt allude towards things of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. And so perhaps, by prizing ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ in a physical location directed by the book, which honors such Truths, and finding an image of a ‘key there (specifically and only The Whistle Pig’s key), confirms you have solved the hunt.

These were my thoughts (for the day ;)). I was looking for an image of the book’s key in a place of realized value.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were references I used as ‘possible guidance’ to take me to a spot in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Obviously, the theme of the book is The Whistle Pig and has multiple references to Groundhog’s Day and the traditions related to the date of February 2nd. We are also told within the book to ‘move away from shadow grey and into the light’ and ‘look at the big picture’.

I’ve like the possibility that those instructions to find the ‘Key’ refer to the map in the preface. The map, a big picture in the book, depicts the state of Pennsylvania which includes a circled area. The ‘lighter’ area in the circle is where Punxsutawney is located. Since the rest of the map is grey, and if we are to move away from grey and into the light, could the ‘Key’ actually be in Punxsutawney, the circled area?

This may seem too obvious. However, like mentioned above, on the past website and in the book, we are supposed to ‘pass the pig’. This is taken to possibly mean that once you found the ‘key’, you are to pass the puzzle along. With this assumption then, the Key must be unmovable, remain in place, and supports that theory.

I love using ‘hunts’ to take me to places. Since I thought it would be fun to go to Punxsutawney, and this past Sunday was a beautiful day, we decided on going. I wanted to scout out a few areas.

whistle pig treasure hunt

Whistle Pig Sighting!

I found many ‘shadows of the pig’. There are Whistle Pig sightings all over that town! Lol. I also liked the idea of strolling on the Mahoning Shadow Trail in Punxsutawney, in connection to a sentence in the book, ‘look for the shadow on your daily path’, to find the key.

Besides, of course, checking out PHIL, his burrow, and Gobbler’s Knob, while there, I most wanted to scope out ‘Circle Hill Cemetery.’
If all the references and theme to the book directed a person to go to Punxsutawney, then where in Punxsutawney could the key be??
I considered maybe the ‘circle’ on the map hinted also to Circle Hill Cemetery. Could maybe a key be found (or shadow of a pig) etched on a gravestone?

There was the decoded message to consider too: BARE THE CROSS, LEAVE THE CENTER, FIND THE FRUIT.

This message was found within the last chapter of the book. There is an image of a small key on page 78 within that chapter. The only other chapter which includes an image of a small key (actually two of them on page 4 and 13) is the first chapter.

I wondered if the key in the last chapter was to hint this is a significant chapter, and something is found here; like the decoded message was. This hidden message was found by taking the first letters of each sentence. ‘First’ was the key to find this message.

With the small keys positioned in the first chapter, could that chapter be significant for a reason too? Could the location be described here? Could the page numbers of the keys be important? Maybe 4-13-78, (the pages where all three keys are found), is a date?
Could there be a gravestone with the year 1878 or 1978….and maybe an image of the key etched on it?

We explored the area. Because the first chapter is entitled ‘Black Heart Cherry’ and mentions sitting under a cherry tree, a fruit tree, where cherries have dropped by a rock, I wanted to specifically look for any of those in relation to the message ‘Find the Fruit’ (find the cherry tree). There were a few there.

It was a beautiful cemetery. And although we didn’t find any ‘keys’ (but we didn’t look at all 8000 or more gravestones there), we did value a prize while visiting.

Within the cemetery is the American Legion Memorial Plot. The men laid to rest there had given their lives to fight for freedom; to fight for life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. A gift to all of us.

Taking time to honor and appreciate their sacrifice was one of the treasures realized that day.

There are other places I didn’t get time to scout out and I will be going back. It was a fun time and the search is exciting for me…. Treasures are always found.

Best of luck with all that you seek!

Other pictures from our search:


whistle pig treasure hunt


whistle pig phil

They said he did not see his shadow….so early spring 2016!



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1 Response

  1. Nate Beck says:

    Awesome article Jenny! Glad to read about a treasure hunt I knew nothing about. Sounds intriguing.

    Happy Groundhog Day! 🙂

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