Slicks: Featured Question with Forrest



Dear Forrest, You collect many artifacts, and it seems they quietly impress upon you to study them and then tell their stories. Do you have a favorite story/history of an artifact?~ j



Sure I do. One such object is a “slick,” a word used here as a noun. It’s a term that’s largely unknown, even to historians. Many of the old mountain men and fur trappers were never without four items while on the trail: A Hawkin rifle, a Russell Green River knife, a strike-a-light, and a slick. Slicks are small pieces of jade that were carried as good luck charms, or amulets.

Most of them were picked up in Southwest Wyoming that is home to some of the best jade in the world. They got their name because some exhibit heavy “bag wear” from being carried in a pants pocket for years. I found mine under the floor boards of a long-ago abandoned log cabin within walking distance of the Gallatin River in Montana. I carry it sometimes myself.f


ADDITION: 1/6/2015

Forrest has sent an image of his ‘slick’!

Forrest's slickForrest's slick (2)








(sent with note:  ‘Here’s my little 2.5 ” jade slick.  You can see the polish from being carried in a buckskin pocket for a few decades.  …….. Sometimes when I set out on a difficult mission that has to work for me, I stick it in my pocket.” f)




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56 Responses

  1. Jenny Kile says:

    I love the color green…..will need to get myself a ‘slick’ for sure!

    Thanks for another beautiful answer, Forrest.

    ….hmmm….an old forgotten home…lol…always keep us guessing. Love it!

  2. Whiterock7 says:

    I can see Wolf’s dream coming true for him…, I guess he will break his own rule.
    Eight of those stones do not look right, they look fake, but I am no expert on stones.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      Hi Whiterock7….just to clarify; that first image (the group of green stones) is one I chose for the post, and not from Forrest. Sorry for any misunderstanding…j

      Edit 1/6/2015: Forrest then added images of his ‘slick’! Perfect!

  3. Whiterock says:

    All the same :). Like I said, I am no expert on stones, but I thought that those smooth rocks were used to quench the thirst.

  4. Ramona says:

    Very interesting, I have never heard of “slicks”.

  5. The Wolf says:

    The name nephrite is derived from lapis nephriticus, which in turn is derived from Greek, which means ‘kidney stone’ and is the Latin and Greek version of the Spanish piedra de ijada (the origin of “jade” and “jadeite”). Accordingly, nephrite jade was once believed to be a cure for kidney stones.

  6. JC1117 says:

    I love jade. I have some large chunks of it in buckets waiting to be turned into something cool. I never knew it was good luck. I’ll have to start carrying a piece of it around to give it a nice polished look…or maybe I can take it to the zoo and have a giraffe lick it for a while. LOL! I’ll have to comb through the basement and find a good piece…preferably one without any hairline cracks in it. That way I won’t be tempted to show people my smokin’ crack rock …again. 🙂

  7. Chris Yates says:

    Jade, it move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy, very smooth

  8. Pacman says:

    I’d read more about this, perhaps Hausel and Sutherland, if I wasn’t feeling so jaded.

  9. spallies says:

    Nice story… I hope it brought you good luck!!!

  10. Mark J says:

    I bet your stone has been witness to a lot.

  11. vgboss says:

    Awesome! Forrest Fenn is da man.

  12. astree says:

    I think of jade as coming from around the Orient. If it’s not found naturally in the United States, I’d be curious how the mountain men acquired their jade ( at trading posts, or from other trappers ? ).

    Jade comes in several varieties, “The Chinese character 玉 [9] is used to denote the several types of stone known in English as “jade” ( ).

    Coincidentally, there was a movie on last night; “Men of War” was about a group of mercenares going to a tiny South China Se jade-treasure island. But, it turns out the real treasure was not the jade.

    “Slicks” – I knew about the racing tire, and several other definitions, but not this one. Always something new to learn. Is there jade in the treasure chest, or closest stone the turquoise?

    Thanks Jenny and Forrest,

    • Sam Smith says:


      Wyoming is an excellent source of nephrite jade…The mountains in the Jackson Hole area are full of it…It can be found around creeks and rivers as washed or polished pebbles and larger as well…Two of the finest pieces of jade I ever saw belonged to a rock hound friend in Denver many years ago…Both were examples of ‘black jade'(WY is one of the only places it’s found)…

      One piece was a polished prehistoric axe head w/rounded butt end 4 inches wide by 7 inches long and 1 1/2 in thick with a ground groove across its width for attaching a handle by bindings…A stunning unbroken piece found on an island in the Glendo Reservoir, WY north of Wheatland…

      The second piece was a 6 in by 2 in oblong potato shaped piece found near Fort Collins, CO(also ‘black jade’)…My rock hound friend had lopped off only one end with a rock saw and polished the exposed face…Inside the black jade were small droplets about pea size of ‘apple green’ jade…One of only three examples known, his, a man in Fort Collins, and a piece in the Smithsonian…

      These were true treasures for sure…

  13. astree says:


    Regarding the color, it’d be a tough call for me between emerald, jade, aquamarine, turquoise, and opal maybe. Think you could get Forrest to make another treasure hunt with those in a box, after this one’s done? 🙂

  14. Seeker says:

    I don’t want folks to get the wrong idea to my comment…So when i use certain words take it with a grain o salt…

    Slicks, amulets, rabbit foot, etc. are IMO superstitions in a belief that an object can give luck or protection etc.
    We have entertain the thoughts of religion and spiritual attitudes that could be referenced in the poem…
    But I really never considered superstitions as a possibility to help with the poem. There are many of them, not just about a luck rabbit’s foot or a broken mirror or walking under a ladder. This would be a good topic to examine and discuss, could the poem hold reference to this.

    Again it’s not about the belief or disbelieving…just another avenue to look at.

  15. astree says:

    “The power of thought can sway the odds to Luck, but science may never prove it.” That’s a bit of a paraphrase, but I’d have to agree. Guess who said it.

  16. Rick says:

    Slick stones? For someone that prides himself on being “slick” that’s pretty slick.

    Wonder what slick was slick enough to put this past Fenn?

    When up against insurmountable odds, Fenn gets slick:)

  17. Rick Nowak says:

    Archeology 101: 2/3 incidents implies a trend?

    No a trend is where 100,000 plus can’t solve a puzzle, that’s a trend.

  18. lia says:

    Forrest, I love this story! You were in the wood and underwood when you found this treasure. It’s small and like your first arrowhead must have been so much fun to discover! What made you think to look beneath the floor and was the slick inside of a leather bag? Will you fill in the fun details?

    • E* says:

      lia – Great questions! I would also like to add:

      Where was the abandoned cabin,…on the Gallatin River?

      How old were you,…when you found your “slick”? Did you have it with you,…when you flew your missions in the F-100D,…in Vietnam?

    • E* says:

      lia – Maybe Mark Twain inspired Forrest to look beneath the floorboards of that abandoned cabin?:

      From Chapter 26 of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”:

      Once the men are asleep, Tom insists on leaving. Huck is terrified of waking the men. When Tom decides to leave and stands up to go, the floorboards squeak and he changes his plan and stays put.

      The men awaken and discuss what to do with the 600 dollars in silver coins that they have on them. It’s a heavy load, so they decide to hide it in the house for now. The boys are ecstatic at the prospect of taking this fortune.

      As Injun Joe digs a hole to bury the money, his knife strikes something hard under the floor. The men grab a pick and shovel the boys had left downstairs and start digging. They uncover a wooden box full of several thousand dollars in gold coins. They presume “Murrel’s gang” left it there long ago.

      And here is a photo of an old abandoned mining cabin,…that might not be “too far to walk” from the Gallatin River,…well,.for Forrest, anyway:

      • lia says:

        E* we are in the mountains skiing so keeping this short, but I like your Tom Sawyer link in. I can also say that in Wyoming and Montana people do find hidden gold and coins underneath floorboards, wall cavities of old cabins and also burried along old stage coach routes. Is your cabin photo near the Gallatin? From my research I only know of a couple and they are on private lands. Just loved this story from Forrest…!!!

        • E* says:

          lia – I found that cabin picture on this site,…which I think you will enjoy:

          Read the paragraphs down and around the abandoned cabin picture,…which point, I think,…to it being part of an abandoned mining camp,…near Pony, MT (which is probably 40 miles away from the Gallatin River,…which may NOT be “too far to walk” for Forrest. 😉

          • lia says:

            E* thanks. A trip down many memory lanes at that link. Read every word and as I expected the cabin pic’s dark overgrowth of vegetation reminded me of church camp on the bldr. Considered region in past but seemed like it was bone cold due to geog or elevation. will revisit when I get another map. My current solution could be way off but I hope not. Need to purchase a new map, my old one went to a friend or became kindling for a warm know, match strike burn the map that didn’t lead to treasure 9 times;))

  19. 23kachinas says:

    My slicks include lapis lazuli, amazonite (recent acquisition) and a 1g Engelhard fine gold 999.9 piece from Alaska Airlines.

  20. astree says:

    The particular knife Forrest mentions seems to have come into popularity around the American Civil war era.

    “The John Russell Cutlery Company was established in 1834, in Greenfield, MA by John Russell. Russell built his water powered factory on the banks of the Green River. He first produced chisels and
    he ads, but as the company grew, he began to produce large quantities of high quality hunting knives to supply the needs of the American frontier.[2]”

  21. astree says:

    Trappers and mountain men may have traded with the native Indians (Crowfoot, and others), for the jade. Riches were relatively abundant in America..

  22. Project Why says:

    ‘Slicks’? …..Well, why not? Since man’s beginning people have carried things with them for all sorts of reasons. I have some Native American artifacts, …..nothing real valuable except probably to me, that I carry with me when hiking around, …..sometimes. To me, I feel like it gives me a sense of ‘intimacy’ with certain areas or my surroundings and helps me find what I’m looking for. But probably some of it has to do with ‘good fortune’. And of course I always carry my Stag Handle Kodiak engraved ‘Buffalo Hunter’ XX Case Knife, with 6″ blade, because there are worse things out there than bears. 🙂 Besides, I’d rather carry it around on hikes, than my Randall Model 16 “Special Fighter”. No sense attracting unwanted attention. 🙂 And of course a pocket knife one must always carry!! Forrest Fenn though, has some knives in his collection that are extremely ‘old’ and just some magnificent weapons, or should I say, they are really works of art, for how they were made in those time periods, and each probably with a story to boot. Wish I had just one of them!! 🙂

    Now ‘slicks’ are one thing. But it took some real ‘stones’ to write a book and put something out there for all of us to search for …..and now almost 5 years later …..still people are looking for something that some have even come within 500ft of and others solving only the first two clues, or maybe perhaps….., well, who knows? 🙂 I guess I’m going to have to get me one of them pieces of jade, because I could sure use some luck, but could always use another good companion to share the journey with.

    I wonder what “difficult missions” ff has carried his on? I bet I can think of one……….

    • william says:

      Hey Nora I dont think it’s much as the slicks or knife that he carry but more as to how the jade gets polished. I usually don’t give any useful information away but I don’t see any harm in this. In scrapbook 119 in the video which was a short one he mentions how a stone was worn and it could be a threshold to front or back doors, now there is mention throughout the chase about rooms and excedera. I feel it’s more how the stone is worn that anything, most common is creeks and river beds but the list goes on. Here is that video in scrapbook 119 and see if you can see the connection

      • Nora Kelly says:

        Yeah, I remember the video Will. There are connections in lots of things if one looks hard enough. 🙂 But that doesn’t mean they are significant. Not everything has some deeper meaning. Sometimes it’s just that, …..a good story. Nothing more. I mean, if everything he said, and there are hundreds of things he’s said, had some connection to where the chest was hidden, …..don’t you think someone would have found it by now?? So, either MOST of it has no real connection, or he’s really not very good at given us hints, or they are just too vague to ever know?

        You mentioned “useful information”? Well, I don’t think any of us can ever say we have anything that is useful. Not to bust your chops, but that’s just the way it is. No one will ever know what is ‘useful’ or not till the chest is found, and that includes anything ff has given us as well.

        Just great stories Will. Nothing more. Forrest Fenn isn’t going to give us anything more than the poem. Everything else is only for fun or entertainment and to keep this whole thing going until…….. There is no guarantee that any one of us will ever find it. But that doesn’t mean we lose out either. The thrill, the gold, the treasure, … in the CHASE. The treasure is just the pot of gold at the end of one of those rainbows. You only lose if you choose to. Mr. Fenn got what he wanted, didn’t he?But everyone can find something. 🙂 And it just depends on where you look and how long you wanna keep searching? Or believing……….

    • Connie says:

      I’ve been going alone and would like to have someone to go with just for safety’s sake. Email me if you are interested in talking about going together.

  23. Iron Will says:

    That’s one nice looking stone 😀

    • JC1117 says:

      It’s funny how liking rocks seems to be “in your blood” from birth…or not. I was born a rockhound. Nobody else in my family seems to care much for rocks. My daughter who turns 3 on the 19th was born a rockhound also. Every time we go on a walk or visit somewhere she has to pick up a rock and bring it home.

      That’s a nice slick, Forrest. I need to get me one now.

      This one won’t fit in my pocket, but it might fit in a backpack or something.

      • Iron Will says:

        OMG! It’s the 7th Dragon Ball!

      • lia says:

        Hi JC1117 – Im a rock hound too and pick one up on my hikes or travels. I have a piece of white marble from ruins in Rome, a couple from mountains I’ve climbed, a pebble of old blue glass washed by time in my favorite lake. They are my stones of remembrance. The most touching site on my totc searches was a beautiful tribute or memorial to someone’s sweet loved one – at the base of an ancient tree, many beautiful heart shaped stones of various sizes and colors had been collected and tenderly tucked into the tree’s bark. So sweet it brought tears. My eyes are peeled for heart shaped stones to take me back to that tree. The arrowhead Forrest sent me reminds me of that heartstone memory.

  24. There is much more wonderful folk lore to Russell knives. For example, in a knife fight, jeers from the crowd could yell out “Give it to him, up to the Green River”! That was to cheer the combatants on to stab each other deep enough to reach the “Green River Works” logo (which was just before the handle).

    Russell was also one of the first “upstarts” to brag that his product was made in America! He advertised his “American Cutlery” at a time such boasts was laughable. Who’d want to buy a knife made by inexperienced labor with poor materials, when the dominant industry in Sheffield, England already had a high quality product? The 1830s was a new era for American industry, and Russell’s story is a great example of how it happened.

  25. Sam Smith says:

    Mr. Fenn,

    Concerning the last sentence of you answer above…Did you slip this piece into your pocket also on the day you hid the chest?…I can’t think of a more difficult mission that had to work for you…Thanks…and thank you also Jenny for these Q & A’s…

  26. jdiggins says:

    Got “slicks? Lol…several!

  27. jdiggins says:

    Actually, I just returned from a really fun adventure at my favorite spot in the Gold Country…picked up some beautiful river rolled crystals!

  28. Judy Ms.Girl says:

    Mr. F. Did you have your slick in your pocket when you buried the Chest or did you plan to have it with you when you were to be found with the treasure if you had not gone into remission or been cured? That would have been awesome and spiritual!! I love jade and have a few bracelets and earrings and it is spiritual. It also reminds me of crystal and the healing power of both is quiet real….Love the pics and the question…Thanks Forrest and Jenny

  29. Woody Bogg says:

    I saw quite a bit of jade when I went on a hike last year. I left it right where it was. I didn’t want to disturb anything where someone would know I was there. I had some nice pieces though a few times.. I have one down stairs I carried around in my pocket that is green and I found it here in Montana.( Nice piece) I’ve always been a rock hound.

  30. Belle says:

    Nice story. Very interesting. I guess you never know what you are going to find until you look.

  31. Wall says:

    I’ve heard of oil slicks.

  32. tighterfocus says:

    Those photos are very telling (confirming!) . . . Thanks, Forrest and Jenny!

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