Crook County Cache….

APRIL 2015


I know many of you are familiar with the legendary Fenn Cache. An impeccably preserved and intact collection of 56 Clovis era points in various stages of completion and made from a wide variety of stone. The cache was first unearthed about 1902. No one knows exactly where. Forrest has written about how he obtained the cache and he published a book written by George Frison and Bruce Bradley focusing on the magnificent tools and the materials used to create them. He also wrote a scrapbook about the cache for this blog. You can read that scrapbook HERE.

But Forrest has been instrumental in preserving more than one Clovis Cache. The Crook County Clovis Cache is a collection of nine tools unearthed in 1963 in northern Wyoming. This cache was discovered by Harold Erickson during oil exploration activity.

Clovis points have a distinct flaking pattern that separates them from the flaked points of other cultures. Many are also found with a distinctive composition known as “red ochre” affixed to them. They are some of the oldest evidence we have of humans in North America. Those who try to piece together the colonization of our continent require access to these earliest human artifacts. Sophisticated techniques for dating and analyzing prehistoric artifacts are still evolving. Re-examination often turns up new evidence of the way early peoples hunted, lived, interacted, and more.

Forrest is lionized by many archaeologists, anthropologists and other students of  prehistoric North Americans for two important aspects of his cache collections.
First, for keeping the artifacts intact. Many collector/profiteers have separated out the various points from other caches  and sold them off individually. But to archaeologists, paleontologists and anthropologists it is extremely valuable to have the entire collection of points intact, to be studied as a whole as well as separately.
Second, for making the cache available for observation and study. Many collections owned by individuals and institutions have been locked away and privileges to study them are more often than not, very difficult to obtain. Forrest, on the other hand, has made his collections accessible. He has even packaged up his collections and shipped them to distant archaeologists so they can examine them in their own labs.

In the years after 1963 Forrest was able to obtain the Crook County Clovis Cache but the exact location of its unearthing faded into obscurity when Harold Erickson died. No one knew, any longer, the precise location of the spot where the nine points had been unearthed by Erickson. Knowing this place and being able to examine it could lead to more knowledge about the prehistoric Clovis peoples.

One of the folks who became interested in this lost location was the respected and renown archeologist Ken Tankersley Although the cache is staggeringly beautiful and an archaeologically important collection to view, it would be even more valuable toward understanding Clovis culture if Ken could examine the spot where it was removed from the earth. But how could that be accomplished? Tankersley had twelve clues that could lead him to the spot. Sound familiar?

He collected data on the likely location for several years. “The more data I collected the more daunting the task seemed.” he said.


In 2002 Tankersley wrote a book about the mystery and adventure of locating the spot where the Crook County Clovis Cache was unburied.  He wanted to tell the story of prehistoric North Americans based on found artifacts and the Crook County Cache was a key element in his story. It is an engaging read of both scientific and creative thinking…both novel and thesis…a wonderful read!!

The book launches with a forward by non-other than Forrest’s good friend and prolific writer, adventurer and documentarian, Doug Preston. Doug does a fascinating job of setting out the  landscape of ruthless archaeological dictators and professional frauds that much of the available literature about Ice Age North Americans was based upon during the first half of the the 20th century. There were scams, there were mistakes, there were misinterpretations and the facts were hard to find. Where there is potentially large profit there are always unscrupulous profiteers who care little about truthful provenance and more about making a big and fast buck.

Tankersley then picks up on Preston’s theme and writes a humdinger of a detective novel about how he, Forrest and two other scientists went about finding the original location of the Crook County Cache. We meet Forrest, Tankersley, C. Vance Hayes, a geoarcheologist and member of the National Academy of Science and Jack Holland who operates the Holland Lithics Laboratory at the Buffalo Museum. We watch and listen as they assemble information and root out the cache’s home and the home of the mysterious “red ochre” affixed to the points. It is a rich book with illustrations and color photos, that give life to the fascinating story of the Crook County Cache to explain clearly how those artifacts fit into the  intimate diorama of prehistoric North Americans.

Here are a couple of comments readers made about Tankersley’s book-

“This is a very entertaining book on one of my favorite subjects, the First Americans. When it comes to books about the First Americans, there are usually two kinds of books; straight research books and archaeological site reports. This book is not like either of these. This book is filled with stories about the players involved in the search and artifacts found of the First Americans. It is easy and entertaining to read. The author holds the readers’ interest by telling the every day stories about a variety of subjects centering around the First Americans. My favorite story was about the fake Clovis Cache that some scoundrels tried to sell to Forest Fenn.”


 “In his book, Tankersley addresses the problem that plaques museum and private collections, i.e., fake artifacts. I found it interesting how difficult it is to detect fakes. It reminded me of a trip through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area. At nights around the campfire, the guides would chip rocks to make arrowheads. They would then scatter the newly made arrowheads for unsuspecting guests to find. Of course, the guides would “guide” them to their discovery and in turn would get a bigger tip at the end of the trip.”

If you’d like to win a free, hard cover, first edition copy of this book…
Enter the latest contest HERE. The three top winners will each receive a smear of red ochre, collected by Forrest from the place where the Crook County Cache was hidden and the first place winner will also receive a copy of Ken Tankersley’s book, In Search of Ice Age Americans. You can read more about the prizes and how to enter on the contest page.


21 thoughts on “Crook County Cache….

  1. Can’t believe I’m first …Love this SB…Interesting story about the Crook County Cache…And ff with others actually followed the clues and found the original site?…That is fantastic!…

    Think this is one contest I might enter…Do have one unusual Item to show and tell with…Good luck to all who enter the contest… 🙂

  2. whoa. just got the wind knocked outta me. that’s one of my threads. and yep, that’s what guides do (BTDT and done the same). I already got red ocher, and yellow. I look best in the red.

    Need to get this family stuff outta the way so I can get back in the CHASE!!!

  3. Dal, how can I ever come up with a found object, picture, or story as terrific as yours! Looking forward to seeing all the interesting items everyone has found and what a grand prize for the winner!

  4. Thank you for the excellent blog entry. The topic is yet one more I am utterly ignorant about, so maybe I will get a copy of the book. Twenty years ago I examined an eolith at the”Calico Early Man Site” in California which was clearly worked by a human, and it was not different than what is found in Europe around Germany and France. The archeologists at the site dated the knapping to have occurred more than 100,00 years ago, which as far as I know no other archeologists agree with.

    I wonder if the Clovis and Folsom people were non-asian.

    As for the “found objects,” I’ll send to you two images found here on the ranch.

  5. I wonder if the “red ochre” was a ceremonial/religious connotation and that maybe they coated the points with it hoping for better hunting or something.

  6. Dal, I’m already reading the book. Been reading for about a month now. I wrote Forrest an email about it because it is so interesting. They write a lot like Forrest does. I don’t like reading, but don’t mind it when I read books written like this and Forrest’s. It’s a great book, both entertaining and I’m learning stuff. It even talks about San Lazaro. When I bought it, I bought a First Edition, but it’s not signed nor does it have red ochre on it. That would be awesome!

  7. I own this book. Purchased it soon after it was published.

    An outstanding read for anyone interested in paleo archaeology.
    I have collected artifacts for 43 years and the clovis has eluded me. It is still satisfying just to be outside, even on days when you come up empty.

  8. Thanks to Forrest Fenn, the search for the Crook County Clovis Cache was a truly exciting and successful archaeological adventure. He really knows how to push the limits of scientific investigations and flight. He is truly a superb and extremely talented pilot. We were able to see Crook County in a way it had never been seen before. In addition to Forrest’s invaluble contributions to archaeology, we all need to thank him for his service to our Country. Thank you Forrest!

    • Thank you Ken, I can’t wait to order a copy of your book to read more about it! I imagine Forrest was a tremendous help in the adventure with his unique perspectives, wealth of knowlege and flying skills!!! Thank You Forrest!!!

    • Wow Ken, what an honor for you to be on here with us too. Your book is great and I’m glad that I get the opportunity to say it to you! I don’t like reading, but you made it enjoyable. Thank you!

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