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, Dan Millender 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:
BARE THE CROSS
LEAVE THE CENTER
FIND THE FRUIT
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, even though the above application for the message leaves the possibility for never finding the actual key, the puzzle remains open to explore. An exact position of the key had not been solved, if the above was correct (and it may not be), and must still be hidden within the stories of the book. There continue 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.