How to Solve The Thrill of the Chase??
Edgar Allan Poe published a short treasure hunt story entitled The Gold Bug in 1843. It’s been known to have inspired many other treasure stories, possibly even the Beale Papers, since then. Poe’s tale of buried treasure even encouraged the making of a board game. Alfred Butts, the inventor of the most popular word game Scrabble (1948), applied the deciphering method used in Poe’s Gold Bug to create scoring for the game. The Gold Bug is a classic tale of treasure.
What I find interesting is there seems to be certain connections with Poe’s Gold Bug to Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt: The Thrill of the Chase. I wonder if some of these may help to better understand how to solve Fenn’s treasure poem.
In the fall of 2010, Forrest Fenn published his memoir which included 24 cryptic lines leading to a bronze chest. This amazing chest is filled with over a million dollars worth of gold and other valuables and is hidden ‘somewhere in the mountains North of Santa Fe’ for anyone to find (and keep). Immediately after this poem in Fenn’s book is a small paragraph mentioning the treasure of Captain Kidd. This paragraph also includes Fenn saying he is the only one who knows where the treasure is located and adds the sentence, “Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”
Those who have read The Gold Bug may have caught a similarity. It would seem the above thought about keeping a treasure secret was also on Poe’s mind while writing his story. The ending of The Gold Bug includes a similar phrase in reference to the treasure of Captain Kidd. In the tale, after deciphering a message, following the directions, and finding Kidd’s buried treasure, the characters wonder what ‘to make of the skeletons found in the hole’ with the treasure. Poe’s characters come to the conclusion that Kidd felt he should ‘remove all participants in his secret.’
Now I am NOT in any way suggesting Fenn knocked off one of his friends after he helped him hide his treasure. Lol. No! I am merely seeing a similarity with the fact that in order to keep a treasure secret, only one person alive should know its location. And wonder if The Gold Bug inspired the phrase Fenn used. I find it suspicious, albeit possibly coincidental, that the paragraph after the poem included a reference to Captain Kidd’s treasure and this comparable circumstance. Almost as if Fenn hints towards The Gold Bug and maybe suggests ‘this is how to solve my poem.’
The Gold Bug’s solving method is not one which has not been proposed already. Just recently in Six Questions with Shaun Whitehead and in Six Questions with Domino Ireland, they both suggested some of the clues needed to solve for the location of the treasure must be done ‘on site.’
This is exactly how it is done in The Gold Bug. After Poe’s character, William Legrand, deciphers the following message:
“A good glass in the bishop’s hostel in the devil’s seat, forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes, northeast and by north, main branch seventh limb east side, shoot from the left eye of the death’s head, a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.”,
Legrand considers its meaning.
Poe describes the logic and the adventurous solution found for the message. The only way the treasure’s location was found was by first understanding the meaning behind ‘Bishop’s hostel’. Until Legrand determined this, nothing in the phrase took him to the treasure. It could not be short-circuited and was completed ‘on site.’
Is this why Forrest Fenn says, ‘start at the beginning’ and refers to Warm Waters Halt? Is this also why he felt a few treasure seekers, who had solved the first two clues, had been ‘so close’; could they have been ‘on site’ to have determined the other clue meanings? Few facts on Forrest Fenn’s treausre are known, so realize this is speculation.
In Poe’s story, Legrand searched for a ‘Bishop’s Hotel’. Without success he considered other meanings for ‘Bishop’s Hotel’ and felt possibly ‘Bishop’ referred to an old family name of Bessop and their large home. Pursuing this line of thought led him to an older lady who remembered a place once known as ‘Bessop’s Castle’. This was not a hotel or home at all, but a rock formation; and the correct meaning to the term.
Poe’s characters followed the other clues, by similar approach, and discovered the precise spot. Only by going to ‘Bessop’s Castle’ was the devil’s seat realized and the meaning for ‘Bishop’s Hostel’ confirmed. Sitting in the devil’s seat, the death’s head was noticed. And by using this, The Gold Bug was used and the treasure unearthed.
I suppose the above is one reason why I love the thought of ‘warm waters halt’ to refer an old Indian Proverb. In a previous article, The Truth in Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem, I wrote about how the phrase may not specifically lead to a watery location. This is similar to Poe’s ‘Bishop’s Hostel’ not leading to a ‘hotel’ but implying the location of a Rock.
I would recommend any one to read The Gold Bug. It shares a method on how to solve a riddle. Even if this is not how to solve Forrest Fenn’s treasure poem, it still is an enjoyable and entertaining tale about a treasure quest!
Best of luck to all!