Friday, April 03, 2015

Treasure Hunters

I live in a magical place, full of mystery and real life buried treasure. From time to time a clue is found, a silver bar, a marked rock, a coin. Leading us ever closer to Kentucky's El Dorado, except ours is silver. If legend and old diaries are to be believed Johnathan Swift preceded Daniel Boone into Kentucky in 1760. Here he found a rich vein of silver. He hid large portions of his wealth in various places around the area. Tragically he was struck blind before he could collect. Various versions of his journal, and purported maps have popped up through the years. Some doubt not only the existence of the silver mine, but of Mr. Swift himself. Johnathan Swift cannot be found in the historic record, and if his journal is to be believed he lived to the ripe age of 112!

Forrest Fenn's Treasure 
Swift's lost treasure may not actually exist, but Forrest Fenn's treasure is real, and waiting to be discovered. Art dealer and author Forrest Fenn has hidden approximately $2 million dollars worth of gold nuggets, rare coins, jewelry and gemstones, and a copy of his autobiography. Over the years he has released clues as to where the treasure may be, or may not be. We know the treasure is somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and we know it is at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level. Fenn also released a poem that contains clues to the location his buried treasure. 

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is drawing ever nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
                                                                I give you title to the gold. 

On June 26, 1876 members of the US 7th Calvary ran into members of my family at a little place we call the Greasy Grass, you were probably taught in history class to call it the Little Big Horn, or Custer's Last Stand. The fighting was horrific and devastating in the end the US Calvary had lost 268 men and another 55 were wounded. They had to arrange a quick way to get those wounded men out of harms way and into the hands of skilled medical professionals fast. Enter riverboat pilot Grant Marsh. Marsh had a cargo bay loaded down with $375,000 worth of gold bars. Bars he was holding for miners fearful of attacks from Natives. Marsh knew his boat couldn't handle the weight of both wounded soldiers and gold. Before he made his record setting 710 river miles in 54 hours trip from the Bighorn to Bismark he unloaded his cargo of gold, buried the treasure somewhere along the banks of the Bighorn river. Marsh died penniless in January 6, 1916, having never recovered his buried treasure. 

The Colorado Desert is an unlikely place to find a ship loaded down with black pearls, but Yuma legends, and a few adventurers have claimed to have seen the infamous lost ship of Juan De Iturbe. Sometime in 1612 De Iturbe, mistakenly thinking he was still in the  Sea of Cort├ęs had actually sailed up the flooded Colorado river basin. When the flood water began receding quickly, De Iturbe realized his mistake. At this point it was to late to escape into deeper water. The ship, loaded down with pearls was abandoned in the desert, De Iturbe and his men made the 360+ mile trek to the Mission at San Luis Obispo.  

Sometimes X doesn't make the spot, and we find treasure in unlikely places. There have been countless ships lost at sea. Cargo holds filled with precious goods lost in the murky depths of the worlds oceans. Family stories of grandparents, great grandparents, weird aunts hiding their fortunes in jars in the backyard or walling it up in their homes. There is treasure, waiting to be discovered. 

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