The Whistle Pig Treasure Hunt

It has been over ten years since the ‘key’ of The Whistle Pig treasure hunt has been put in place for puzzlers to find.  Those, who have the book, surely recognize the opening quote on my home page of this site.  It is written on the inside of the plain dust jacket of The Whistle Pig, which was first published in 2004.  It is:

“If there wasn’t anything to find out, it would be dull.  Even trying to find out and not finding out is just as interesting as trying to find out and finding out; and I don’t know but more so.” ~ Samuel Clemens

A person can still pick up The Whistle Pig, enjoy the stories, and try to solve clues for the discovery of the hidden key.  Somewhere in the lower forty-eight states an ‘unmistakable key’ was hidden by the author of this thought-provoking armchair treasure hunt.  Using the pseudonym Duck Miller, the author created the puzzle book for anyone wishing to challenge themselves to a literary puzzle.  The hunt remains unsolved (as of this present time) and still offers a pleasurable pursuit.

The Treasure Hunt

Readers are encouraged to search for lost treasure within the ten short stories contained in the book.  Although the actual physical location of a key is believed provided once all clues are solved, the value of this key is said to be learned by ‘prizing the allusions and references embedded within the stories.’  Puzzlers are told only that the ‘key’ is hidden on accessible public property and has been in place since February 2nd, 2003.

The introduction inside the book states ‘without steadfast rules’ and with only ‘vague instructions’ for the hunt, readers are ‘forced to open their minds’ and consider all options for possible guidance towards the key’s discovery.  The sole depiction of a whistle pig’s silhouette on the cover represents this exploration.  As each year, on February 2nd, Americans observe the moving from darkness into the light of a whistle pig (groundhog), so too can puzzlers move from darkness into the light by capturing the allusions of The Whistle Pig’s tales.

The Whistle Pig Stories

The book’s stories range from events which seem to allude to horse racing, wars, love, music, and the joys and sorrows of living.  For me, an appreciation for life and the freedom this country gives seems conveyed.  A few anomalies are noticed throughout the stories and are believed to be definite clues.  For example, the page numbering does not include the number 11 and page 22 is numbered with an X.  Although obvious ‘clues’, their intended purpose is unknown.

The Whistle Pig’s Decoded Message

Although those clues have not led to anything solid (afaik), as of yet, there was a decoded message found within the last chapter of the book.  It leaves little doubt a sentence of the text, which stated ‘aligning all the firsts’, was intended as a hint.  The final meaning of the message, of course, continues to be debated. This message is found in the chapter entitled The Bow that consists of thirty-eight sentences.  Taking the first letter of each of these lines spells out the following instructions:


Suggestions for use have been shared.  The most promising one was posted on the Quest4treasure website by username Supermanuf.  It is believed there are many references pointing to Pittsburgh, Pa.  Supermanuf realized two street names surrounding the Mellon Arena (the possible Fruit in the message), are Crosstown Blvd and Centre Ave.  He showed if one were to ‘bare the cross’ (crosstown blvd), leave the center (centre ave.), one could ‘find the fruit’ (Mellon Arena).   It’s a convincing possibility.  If the message did lead a person to the Mellon Arena, it is likely the key will never be found (since the arena has now been taken down).

The Whistle Pig’s Shadow

However, the above might not be correct, and even if it is, the puzzle remains open to explore, as an exact position for the key had not been solved, and so must still be hidden within the stories of the book.  There continues to be many shadow’s lurking in The Whistle Pig, and these are ones which certainly continue to attract the determined seeker.  Challenging one self, while learning, is one of the great pleasures of life.


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9 Responses

  1. I thought it to be more in Punxsutawney, PA.

    Here is my best guess….

    If you read the prose it seems to say to cross Mahoning Street down(read backwards – cross the Bare or bear? Mahone is name of Irish Bear) and follow Center Street to the end(Leave the Center). The next part is speculation at best. Maybe there is a fruit tree at the Elementary School at the end of Center Street(public access land or some kind of park?) and considering again the groundhog, the key is hidden somewhere under the shadow of the fruit tree. The 11 and 22 page numbers missing refer to the time of day the shadow of the tree crosses the spot where the key is.

  2. Sixer/Jenny says:

    It is the ‘circled area’….very well could be near there. I’ve wanted to visit that place…maybe come fall I will get a chance to do some looking around for any connections there. I will let you know.

  3. Holly Cairns says:

    That’s interesting! I’ll have to get the book. 22 and 11 are mirrors. Symmetrical. And it Looks like the key is in Minnesota! Easier for me to find, since I live there.

  4. Holly Cairns says:

    Scratch that. Oops. Not symmetrical. Doh! But could be 77. 🙂

  5. Holly Cairns says:

    Hi Jenny, some day I’ll check the Minnesota Zoo and specifically the prairie dog plaque.

    With no rules, I think of what I know. I know Minnesota a bit.

    Researching groundhogs:
    I notice a Minnesota Zoo volunteer rescued a groundhog “Woody” and it was used at the Audubon Zoo to check for spring on GDay.

    I think I see you standing next to a gopher, not a groundhog. It’s truly hard to identify which furry guy we are looking at: gopher, groundhog, prairie dog, etc. That brown thing you are standing next to looks like the U of M mascot.

    MN’s prairie dog exhibit came to be in 1983,I think, but 2003 was the 25th year of the zoo. New plaques for the exon its, maybe, in honor of 25 years?

    Also supporting my MN Zoo theory, plaque, or publication:
    .The graphic owned by Daniel Millender (Danielle Millender?) looks like my state MN, a penguin, and a hammer.
    .There’s a ring of roads around MPLS. (494, 694, 94)
    .The center of the circle is a cross of roads, 35w and 395.
    .Crosstown 62 road used to be holy hell, traffic wise. They redid it but it still is to be avoided.
    .77, or Cedar Ave connects to the Crosstown and goes south.
    .The zoo is in Apple Valley, MN, off Cedar avenue.
    .Cty Rd 11 is the exit for the zoo. But swoop around and take McAndrews road, if I remember right, instead of actually going on Cty Rd 11.

    All I need now is a connection between Millender (too bad it’s not Melandermillender as we’ve got lots of those around here) and a plaque, publication, etc. Of course that means the “key” is information. Not getting rich there…

    I suppose I should get the book. Why no ebook? Dang. And Googke maps doesn’t get close enough to the plaque at the prairie dog exhibit. Well, thanks for the fun. Looks like few care about the Whistle Pig treasure! There’s no place to submit ideas, even.

  6. Holly Cairns says:

    Well, I had a look. Not finding a Millender Hoogland connection. Oh well, guess it’s not that easy. One thing though, hopefully the key is not a person. Sad story there. Anyway, take care.

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