Scrapbook Ninety Two…



Me and Mummy Joe

Only a few minutes after you leave the East Entrance of Yellowstone, on the way to Cody, if you pay attention, you’ll see a big cave there on the left. Its mouth is 150-feet wide and looks like a giant opera singer yawning in the side of the mountain. The beautiful North Fork of the Shoshoni River splashes the opposite side of the road right there.



The cave didn’t have a name when I first knew it but it always made a strong impression on me, and it was a favorite lunchtime respite for my family when we were headed to Texas after a summer in Yellowstone.

And of course I usually climbed into the cave and sat on a rock in the back to eat Fritos and drink my Dr. Pepper. That was in the 1930s and 40s.



Twenty-five years later I became friends with two of the men who excavated the cave. They were Bobby Edgar and George Dabich. For two years in the middle 60s they carefully moved rocks, shoveled dirt, screened for artifacts, compiled data, and helped uncover Mummy Joe.


Mummy Joe during reburial in the cave

And the cave finally had a name.


The archaeological dig underway in the mid 60s.


Once, when George and I were having dinner at the Erma in Cody, he spoke of watching an archaeologist uncover an Angostura point that was 28-feet below the cave’s surface. The weapon had been flaked to kill an ancient species of bison and had not seen daylight for almost 9,000 years.



George also talked about the artifacts he uncovered: stone choppers, hammers and grinders, projectile points, cordage, fragments of tanned sheepskin, arrow shafts, basketry, rabbit nets, and more than 2,000 leftover animal bones that had been discarded by the ancient dwellers.



In 1967 I received a gift from George. It was a 5-inch long knife he’d carved from a mountain sheep bone that came from layer #3. He said it carbon-14 dated to about 682 AD.

George’s tales were colorful and compelling. He spoke of what it was like living in the cave 1200 years ago when Mummy Joe died, and of the trail weary hunters who returned from a hunt dragging elk hides full of meat that would sustain their clans through the freezing-cold winters. I was fascinated by the stories.

After midnight, with George’s words fresh on my mind, I drove to Mummy Cave. The night was so black that the snow-covered ground offered little moderation. With a small light as my only companion I climbed up and in, and sat on my rock against the back wall. In the lonely silence nothing was moving but the wind that whispered its way through the trees, down the river, and past the cave.

As I sat in the eerie quietness I could feel the austere grandeur of my surroundings. Who were these ancient people who called this sheltered place home? Over the last few thousand years several hundred nature-toughened Indians had rested their butts on the very rock upon which I sat. I just knew it. Can you imagine how that made me feel?


Today my thoughts sometimes harken back to Mummy Joe, who was wrapped in sheepskins so long ago, and buried deep in the dirt. What would I have thought when I was a kid, sitting on my rock, knowing that Joe was just a few feet away. Are there any among you who are as intrigued by America’s ancient past as I am? Tell me.


131 thoughts on “Scrapbook Ninety Two…

  1. That is surreal!

    We can’t imagine where our path has crossed the paths of others.
    But to find out just one or a few is priceless.

    Thanks again, Forrest!

  2. Awesome, Forrest….It is intriguing to say the least…..There is nothing but the Past, the Present is not but a moment and the Future may never come, but if it does come it will only be for a moment until it to becomes the Past. Study of the Past and memories of it are worthwhile endeavors. Thanks for all of your stories of the past; they are enlightening.

  3. This was my first search after setting the clues in motion. I knew FF had to know about the cave and it fit the poem in so many ways.

    I made the journey in May and arrived at the end of the day from Southern California. The air was still and cold and as I sat there in my cargo shorts and a pull over hoody. I to had a personal reflection of Mummy Joe.

    I drove in solo so I was alone. The adventure for me was that I had solved the mysterious poem and all I had to do was pick up the Treasure. The experience of being there and the rush of the “hint of treasures new and old” turned into a rush of history a peak of adrenaline and a somber reflection of what the past held in that very space. The flow of the river, the sounds of the canyon and even the air all around rushed into my very soul. I was transported and changed in an awkward moment of realization and contemplation.

    Until now I felt that this was my private place and I dare say it was now in that shared the mindset of FF and his lifelong experiences.

    I sat there and looked around but found myself feeling as if I could never start digging around or that anything I might move could actually uncover a treasure. It was a serial 60 minutes that will last a lifetime for me. As for the treasure I found that early evening and the hidden treasure of FF that was not in the cave I had an adventure and a memory add to my own personal story that I share now with you.

  4. I’m most intrigued by things we rarely have answers for: what art, music and culture they had, why they took such care with mummy joe/what ritual, or accident, brought him to the future -like a time machine ..? I don’t care so much about bones, architecture, tools – I dearly want to know the *stories* of ancient life. And; Both animal and flora: I think the ancient trees have much to teach us. IMO.

  5. I think our country still holds a lot of secrets waiting to be discovered.

    And I think there are a lot of secrets that have been discovered and then hidden, destroyed, or lost…like the red haired tribe of very tall people in the cave somewhere in Utah(?) I might be wrong about the location, but for some reason, the government, or whoever didn’t want the public to know, made the bones and artifacts in the bat-infested cave disappear.

    And the Viking rune stone found somewhere else out west, which “experts” rushed to declare a hoax…but I wonder…

    Why is our government so hesitant to embrace new discoveries? Are they too cheap or too lazy to rewrite the history books?

      • Red headed giants also found in Nevada cave. Most SW tribes have stories about red headed giants.

        • Many tribes have stories of giants. I hadn’t heard about red headed ones before. That’s worth reading up on. 🙂

          Thank you Forrest for this post. It will give me lots of things to research. 🙂

          • On the surface, reminds of the myths of the Taltos and the red haired twin ‘witches’, as told by Anne Rice

          • I found a red head on a giant. She was hard headed. deb, I think we’ve met. We were next to some little folks.

  6. I don’t know Forrest if I can honestly say im intrigued by the ancient past but for what its worth ive learned a lot more about it just being motivated by the chase.

    I am finding myself more intrigued by Americas recent past though, some of which you write about in TTOTC. And thinking I may have found some important clues connected to the recent past has made it pretty exciting too.

    I don’t want to say too much about that though Forrest, so mum’s the word for now. There was a monsoon here last night and my hat got drenched in water. Put it in the dryer for a while tho, so its nice and warm now.

  7. I’m a long ways away from yellowstone here in Amarillo but your sure making me think. I’ve read some material on mummy Joes excavation.

  8. That is so neat Forrest! Mine is not exactly ancient history but I have found places and things that seem to call to me. One such place was in Alabama. I made a trip in our semi-truck with my hubby years ago, don’t remember when probably late 80’s. We stopped at a town in northern Alabama. I got up the next morning stepped out of the truck and felt i had been here before and felt so at home among the foggy mist and thick trees that surrounded us, it was to me so beautiful. A couple years went by and i started looking up my ancestors and began a family tree. My grandmother i found out had been born in Alabama. I was telling my husband all about it and where she was born. He looked at me and said “You remember where we were in Alabama when we went a couple of years ago?” I remembered but not exactly where. He then said, where you said you felt like you had been before, he told me it was Decatur, Alabama. Wow i was amazed! I later learned my grandmother and her family and ancestors had lived in that same area since the 1840s.

  9. yes i am intrigued by the past and have been since i was eight years old thanks to my mother who was tired of me being underfoot when we would go for evening walks and she told me “go find an arrowhead” to her surprise i came back two minutes later with a beautiful white quartz arrowhead ,not only did i find an arrowhead that day i found a life long wonderment of what people were like in the past and every time i find a piece of the past it makes me wonder what is the story behind this broken arrowhead, i once came upon a matate and mano sitting upon a small bluff surrounded by broken and unbroken arrowheads and numerous tools ive wondered about the Indian lady who must have used it to crush the pinion seeds getting ready for another winter as other member were hunting and chipping stones to make new weapons and tools , i brought that beautiful matate and mano home with me but i regret that now as im sure she must be missing her matate and mano , perhaps i should return it to that special spot what do you think?

  10. Forrest,
    Perhaps there are a few who, like you, have a deep lifetime passion and hunger for knowledge about America’s ancient past. I doubt however there is another who has the ability to write and share pieces of history in a way to make them come to life for me.

    Your stories have awakened me and both brought me to a new door to explore and allowed the magic of imagination to surface again.

    We’ll be driving through Cody in September so perhaps we will stop by to visit your rock. Is the Irma Hotel the same place as the Erma?

    Thank you again. As always, Ellen

  11. More about George huh? Musta been quite a guy. I can’t imagine an archaeologist who would just go to carving on a bone they had found. Is that a rib bone? Most of the long bones are hollow in the center.

    I just love how you shake up the stuffy arrogant archaeology and museum types with your whole go ahead and touch it anybody with the money can buy a site attitude. Right on! Power to the People!

    I always want to know more about what these people ate. How they made things. All the things they used for medicine. I really enjoyed that book 1491 by Charles C. Mann. He debunks a lot of stuff they cram down our throats in history textbooks. I’d love to know what you think of that book Professor Fenn. Thanks for another good one. Keep em coming.

    How come there’s a piece of tape on that knife? Did you break it? Did you try and use it to open your Dr. Pepper? After midnight? You couldn’t have said ‘austere grandeur of the juniper surroundings?’

    • George Dabich was an amazing man and he is my grandfather! I can’t say enough good things about him!!

  12. Almost every morning I get out the door for a walk/run at just before sunrise. My favorite place to run is going north along Tecolote Shores.

    Hundreds of years ago, the Kumeyaay Indians found food and shelter in Tecolote Canyon which runs east from Mission Bay in San Diego.

    Tecolote means owl in Spanish. It’s all my imagination needs to think of what it was like hunting and gathering with the tribes around the area before 1872 when a rancher named Judge Hyde settled into the area.

    In 1978 the City of San Diego bought the land which is now Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Nature Center to turn in into a park. It’s a gem of a place where you can feel the spirit of the past when sitting under the large trees for a moment of peace and quiet from the noise of the modern world.

    • Tecolote Canyon… I know this place as a child 50 years ago. Many years before the canyon became a park. I grew up in Clairemont. My parents bought a home in ’53. Our home overlooked a canyon not far from Tecolote. Those canyons were my playground. It was a different time back then. SD has changed quite a bit since. I explored many of these canyons around Clairemont. Tecolote was a lot deeper then the rest, and longer. I found the easiest way down is where Balboa Ave dipped in. I didn’t venture very far into Tecolote because I had to be home at a certain time. Brings back a lot of memories. A childs imagination you can have an epic adventure in those canyons! Thank you 23 for a trip down memory lane.


      • Thanks Michael and 23,
        I grew up in SD. When my wife and I married we bought a house in Clairemont almost on Tecolote Canyon, in ’66.
        When I talk to people about SD, I tell them there are no straight streets, they are all following canyons. Ha.

        • SpecialKLR,

          One of the reasons I moved to San Diego is the green spaces. I got tired of West LA grid streets, although Santa Monica is still nice. We still have a condo up there we rent out.

      • Michael, if you make it back here sometime take a hike up Tecolote Canyon from Morena Blvd (near the 5 freeway/Mission Bay). I’ve seen red foxes, rattle snakes and not so many people usually.

        Priceless you have some childhood memories of running around the area. Many long time locals have commented on how there used to be farms and orchards where all of the houses are now.

        • I know this is getting off topic. But I have to add that I remember Mission Valley being a large dairy farm…now there’s the Stadium, Mission and Fashion Valley shopping centers, condo’s, hotels and many business parks.

          A few weeks ago I was in SD. At the home with my Sisters deciding how to sell. My mom passed away recently. During a break I went over to the canyon edge to remember the good times down there. Our well traveled trails are overgrown and the trees healed themselves from our fort building boom. I can see no evidence anyone ever goes down there regularly. No responsible parent would ever let there child play in there now. Like I said, it is a different time we live in. Sad to see.

    • @23 Kachinas – we used to spend weekends in SD, my aunt had a home on point Loma overlooking the harbor that she graciously opened for family. Ever eat at Point Loma Seafoods? We used to watch 4th July fireworks on Coronado Island where we had honeymooned. Great memories in SD. Off topic but thanks for sparking a heart remembrance.

        • The Del is a wonderful step back in time. we also love boogie boarding at Pacific beach. You are most fortunate to live there. Always a favorite place for our family.

  13. Surprised you didn’t leave modern society and live among the Indians, Fenn.

    The Paleolithic are the most intriguing, Been following a group so far for over 450 miles……………………

    Found a Clovis, hundreds of flakes of the same type of material spread miles apart, and an interesting rock set up which is intriguing.

    No graves, theory to why headwaters of rivers where sought out.

    Your trying to piece a puzzle together thousands of years old………to me that’s fun:)

  14. Most intriguing are the ancient Americans of European origin, because they’re most mysterious. And it’s not politically correct to contemplate their existence, let alone their demise.

    • give me…. pain pills when hurt, kidney cancer surgery for some, tampons(sorry guys), Internet, gps(I get lost a lot), cell phones(to reach my kids 24/7)….I like all aspects of time..past, now, future.

      • I just watched my 14 month old granddaughter. How did they baby proof a forrest? Can you imagine what those kids had in their mouths?

        • Lol can you image what the ancient binky was like? Image the ancient dentist straightening all those stone binky issues later in life for those cave todders… ooowwwweee

        • @ Kyote – or can you imagine moss inside of hide for a diaper? or no diaper at all? It’s also interesting N.A. tribal safety often depended upon silence… so they trained crying babies to stop by holding their nose until the crying stopped.

      • Very best wishes for your husband’s surgery, open heart surgeries are really common and pretty safe now!

        He was sitting on A MUMMY!

        • Thanks Lowi, We go this morning and find out the time schedule or more testing before the surgery.

          He said no history books needed. It can’t be in that cave…because he wouldn’t have been alone.

  15. More please.
    Did they laugh in winter? Were most of their hours spent in want or worry or fear? Did all the decorative arts have deeper origins? Did social class arise only out of utility?

  16. There are moments when I am exploring the area around where I live (in the Sierra foothills in California Mother lode area) and I find traces of people both ancient and not so ancient people who were here before me and I am overcome with a sense of profound emotion. It is as though I am being reunited with a member of my family and I am grateful. I felt it when I found a grinding rock, well worn from tools held by an ancestors strong hands who transformed acorns into a meal. Or it may be the excitement I felt yesterday when I’m pretty sure I located the spot where a man in the 1860’s built a house and vineyard that has long been consumed by the brush and only referenced to in a tiny notation on a old map from 1870. I take great pleasure in introducing myself to these ancestors and I hope they are glad to meet me as well. They are ALL our ancestors and we are the bridge that connects them with our descendants. The history taught in schools always seems centered around dividing people into groups, and extoling the victors of wars or describing other seismic events. Too little time and attention is spent teaching about our past as it was lived by individuals like Mummy Joe making their way in this beautiful and sometimes frightful world. Forrest, I love your stories because they teach us history that may otherwise get overlooked. I hope you are pleased with the fact that you have inspired so many people to learn about our ancestors and other things that probably would never have been explored except for your “chase”. You have proven to be wonderful educator–teaching so much without your students realizing they were “in school”. That’s truly a wonderful gift. Thank you.

  17. There’s a lot of theories as to why ancient Americans lived in the places they did. When you visit some of the best-known ancient dwellings you should figure it out real quick. These are some beautiful places!
    Put these Mummy Cave coordinates into Google maps and go to Street View. Take a look around. You should easily see why people lived there, and also why the Fenn’s took a stop there.
    44°27’38.5″N 109°44’09.6″W

  18. I love everything about the past, when things were in black and white and not in color. Sometimes with all the technology we make things too difficult! I like the slower lifestyle…when people helped each other and a hand shake was all you needed!

  19. I just finished reading The Great North Trail by Dan Cushman, 1966. It’s full of history, ancient and more recent, related to the ancient migration route from Texas/New Mexico up past the Yukon and into Siberia.
    Chapter 8 taught me more than I ever knew about the competition between Marsh and Cope as they raced to discover the most dinosaurs. It’s very comprehensive—prehistoric, fur trade, buffalo, gold and silver, cattle, etc. A great read.
    Apparently the book is just one of The American Trails Series. I think I’ll look for more. Found this one in a used book store in Iowa City last month.

  20. As FF has said:” the landscape was different back then” in all ways, yet similar in some (ie: disease was around then and still around now) . We live on 20 acres that were summering grounds for Indians. We have Kettles on the property, but I some times wonder if they exist because there are Indian Burial mounds around the kettle? It has a wonderful feeling here – we have the woods that supply our firewood for heat and my husband hunts our property (legally) to put food in our freezer. I curse the horrible internet daily as our only good connection is by radio signal and a VOR tower in the area interferes with the signal. I wonder what I would find if I dug around in our dirt. We have little critters that seem to make easy work of tunneling – is it because there are rooms below the dirt? I never did like history or maybe I was just too busy to want to read about the past. I was always in a hurry to get to a new location, but Thanks to FF I am reading about the past now and may have to search out more info on our property. I just read 2 books published by the owners of the only farm we see in our 360 degree view. The farm was established in 1863 and is still in the same family. Interesting stories of how they came here (because potato famine chased them out of Ireland).

  21. I love learning about ancient peoples and their culture and am thankful that you are so generous as to share your adventures and knowledge with us. These kinds of stories help make history come alive and remind us of where we all came from, whether from the Americas or from some other country far away. Thanks again. 🙂

  22. I love escaping to another time and place. Through history books, and well told historical fiction I often live in another century for weeks. One of my greatest hopes is to be seated at the great council fire, or banquet table of heaven and listen to the bards of old tell the real story. Can you imagine Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce discussing truth with Aristotle? Sacajawea comparing designs and bone needles with the seamstress to Queen Ester?

    I believe invisible threads woven through eternity tie all of God’s people together. I’m grateful Forrest understands the importance of collecting and recording history.

    “There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people die; and you grow old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.” – William Stafford

  23. One thing that caught my attention was the part about the reburial (Mummy Joe during reburial in the cave) So did they rebury Joe The Mummy or move him to another site?

    • He is now in a vault in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY. No visitors are allowed to see him anymore. There are a few tribes who claim he is part of their tribe. My grandpa was George Dabich. 🙂 He was the greatest man and historian I know!!!

  24. Around the Campfire with Forrest Fenn.

    As the suns sets and casts it’s parting vestiges on fleeing clouds.
    The stars begin to appear in their places. Draw up a log or a rock, sit upon the ground if you please.

    Forrest we love the way you strike the flint and iron to ignite the fire of imagination.
    Thinking of mummy Joe, I could not help but wonder what tribe was he part of?
    Who was he, what was his place in the tribal setting? Was he a great hunter? A chief? A medicine man?

    I agree with you and others here, the past is something we need to know about.
    To hold things in our hands from ages long ago and ponder the era from which it came.
    Otherwise how is one to have a real respect for the past and the lessons it has to offer?

    For some of us we place our red ocur covered hand upon a rock just to say I was here. 🙂

    Wait was that a coyote I just heard? Toss another log on the fire. It’s starting to get good.

    Thank you for sharing Forrest

    • I’ll draw up a log and join you Chad. Mr. Fenn’s stories are wonderful, igniting both imagination and appreciation for well told history. I’m new here, but sure love the stories he tells. Does Mr. Fenn collect only Native American artifacts or antiquities from other civilizations as well?

      • Annabloom, he collects mostly native stuff but has relics from other civilizations as well. He has spoken of his Chinese terracotta warriors , his Egyptian artifacts, some Africian ones, and his sabertooth tiger skull. Im sure there are others but that would be for him to share . Welcome to the Chase !

        • @ Ed, thank you for the book referral “Now that the Buffalo’s Gone.” Looks like an interesting read on an important state of current affairs.

          off topic, I’m not receiving email updates from this blog. Numerous times I’ve selected both Notify Me boxes and also gone to wordpress to confirm. Any suggestions??
          (only receiving 2-3 per day)

          • Hmm yes Anna I’ve gone and done that too with somewhat mixed results perhaps Dal could help here.


            Sometimes WordPress doesn’t push emails out even though a person selects confirm. Any suggestions?

          • @Anna & Ed, WordPress uses a particular method of sending out emails and this may be falling foul of the authentication and security settings that your mail server uses. But often you’ll find that emails that WordPress sends out end up as junk because they don’t appear to have come from an authorized source.

            If you want to send me the specifics of your email server I’ll see if I can figure out what’s going on. My email is

          • Goof may have an idea or two. The blog did that once before and Goof fixed it somehow…
            I don’t know enough about how this blog works to fix things…Goof is the guy that can make things happen…

  25. Being originally from New Jersey, whenever I ponder the history of the ancient past, I find I’m at an impasse when it comes to the “ancients”. I say this, because history on early pre-glacial man is still out.

    It turns out however, the Lenni Lenape Indians have conclusively been one of the earliest inhabitants of the state and numerous acheological discoveries have beared this out. They were not the earliest man to occupy the state. Evidence shows that there was an earlier people who lived in the post glacial period. No record exists for a pre-glacial people.

    When I was in school, I found my greatest stories in encyclopedias. I know that sounds strange, but school and what it had to teach me had never captured my interest. Sort of the way Forrest saw it. Instead, whenever I had a chance, I was in the school library pulling another volume.

    What I learned about the Lenni Lenape (meaning “Original People”), I could sum up as, “simplicity”and “peace loving”. This very well applies to many early Indian trides as well.

    How does this influence my thinking? Simple. Unlike the southwest Indians, their pots were decorated with “inpressions” of fiber or bark and their pottery was “incised” with decorations. Where given designs are found, the work is almost certainly that of some particular group. Additionally, certain mixture of designs show relations between the tribes.

    The White Man suffers the loss of great Indian cultures. Instead, we know this loss as “Progress”. The Indians probably see it more as “Slavery” to our old ways.

    We lose more people to our wars, driving, murders, etc., then all of the Indian tribes combined from the beginning of the invasion of America by the Europians to the present day. I thought people came here to get away from their old countries and settle in a “New World”. Well, they did. And look at it now. No better then what they left behind.

    They say that history will repeat itself. If that’s true, I hope the Indians come out on top this time.

  26. When I touch a piece of history and intently study the object. I try to feel the reason, purpose, and the emotions behind its creation. To touch history is to touch the hands of the one who made it.

  27. I cannot tell you Mr. Fenn, how much I enjoyed your story about Mummy Joe and Mummy Cave. I have read so many books and articles in my life concerning the ancient past and peoples of our great land that it would be an impossible task to enumerate them here. I watch every TV special I find listed on these subjects as well as everything I can about the prehistoric past also. Still, at my age today, I am fascinated with dinosaurs and fossils. I also have the internet to give me access to times and worlds I have only imagined in the past. And I have held many a piece in my hands in my day, most returned to the place I found them as taking them would somehow remove their memory from the place their final day was recorded in stone.

    I have been fascinated since a teenager spending my weekends roaming alone the mountains near my birthplace in Tennessee. I have slept in rock overhangs, caves, built brush lean-tos, caught and cooked my own game and fish, eaten wild berries, nuts and fruits and imagined how it must have been 500 or 1,000 or even 5,000 years ago just trying to stay alive in total wilderness with no roads to anywhere; and when one’s travel was limited to two good feet and a desire to know what may lie beyond the next ridge.

    I have found evidence and artifacts of ancient man everywhere I have looked for them. I have wondered whether this particular point in my hand was chipped by a wanderer taking respite during a storm, or was this a favored camping spot to embark on a hunt for game? Was he sitting here working on this piece in the icy winter protected from the cold winds or was he here during the lush greenery of the summer season replenishing his supply of hunting weapons before the next chase? Was he wandering alone, with his family, or part of a larger group? It is virtually impossible to truly imagine a way of life so distant and removed from the modern world. But I try.

    In my imagination I can sometimes feel ancient, primeval memories stirring within and see events taking place as a movie playing in my minds eye; showing me the ways of the ancients, the successes and failures in the hunt, the living and fighting and dying which was their known way of existence. But in all was their respect and awe of the earth which sustained them. And in all was their way attuned to the perfect cycle of life to which each was born. Knowledge and wisdom long forgotten now. Yet, I can imagine.

    • Samsmith, You are a natural and gifted story teller.
      I too enjoy roaming praries and foothills where ancient peoples hunted, played and lived. Although to imagine history played out as you are able requires in depth knowledge and the soul of a wanderer who has trod the paths.

      As children we were taught to recognize travois trails and shallow winter buffalo jumps by the lay of the land and greener turf fertilized by centuries of kills. Because of my Montana heritage I most enjoy the plains tribes – Blackfoot, Crow, Nez Perce, Souix. Dances with wolves and Jeremiah Johnson are favorite movies because they are well told, noble portayals; but they must be balanced with truths like ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.’ Thanks for your story Sam; you could partner with Mr. Fenn and weave golden tales.

      • Thank you annabloom for that compliment…

        Never really thought of myself that way, a storyteller I mean…I do write poetry now and again, but the only real story I have written was one I posted on Chase Chat(Stephanies blog) a few months back entitled “A Scenario”…It was about an elderly man hiding a chest of trinkets, a tale with which you may be familiar… LOL…

        Maybe, if Dal doesn’t mind, I could post it on here for others to read as well..

        Probably should have included it in the story telling contest here, but honestly I didn’t think to do so at the time…Thought the stories for the contest should be more of a personal anecdote and not a tale of imagination…

        Anyone interested in a fantasy TOTC tale?…

        Thanks again…I truly appreciate your comments…


  28. Yes! How did they not freeze? How did they keep a fire going 24/7? How did they eat? It is so baffling to compare life now to just 100 years ago. How the heck did they thrive 1,000 years ago?

    • 1000 years ago it could have been tropical rain forests everywhere and the earth is still growing up – trying to figure out what it wants to be 🙂

  29. I don’t think I could have survived in that Era , it would have been hard , but a simple life in regards to what we are living now . This world is scary and we are living it.
    Well I guess there has never been peace .

  30. Amy you have to remember life expectancy was very low back then . Thirty was considered elderly. Puts a whole other light on it doesn’t it ?

    • Its not clear what era you were referring to when you said 30 was elderly but life expectancy discussions get tricky because the numbers are averages–not upper limits of when people died. Life expectancy was low in the past because so many died in infancy. If a child made it to the age of 4 their life expectancy may easily be increased by 20+ years. So even if the life expectancy for a child born 1000 years ago was 30, that doen’t mean that they would not live to their 60’s which was not unusual. I know that my family members born in the 1700 made it into their eighties even though their life “expectancy” was very low when they were born due to the high infancy mortality rate. I think it is surprising that people lived so long even going back as far as the bronze age. Put another way, our life spans have not increased as much as one would think although we have gotten much better keeping little ones alive.

  31. Hi ,mr. husband and I just stayed in cody a few weeks back.went to Yellowstone at the east entrance.went right by the shosone river.I never knew about that story.interesting.I never seen so many RV places in all my life along that road to Yellowstone.they were ready to do the gun shootout at the erma hotel.all dressed up like cowboys.went to the cody museum.a must see for everyone who goes there.great place.then we went out close to walmart and went horseback riding in the mountains.had fun.we made good memories.since ralph has stage 4 cancer,we don’t know how long we got together.of course,thats for everyone else is too short.ralph liked the gatlin gun in the gun area of the museum.he had to take a picture of it.I forgot to get my ,I’ll be your huckleberry pajamas while in I got to call them and get them,they are so cute.never knew a huckleberry looks like a blue berry.wyoming is beautiful country.we stayed across from fred flintstone village.your going to all kinds of people going to cody to look for the treasure.flint,home,your knife looks like a paddle.oh you sly one,you you

  32. My response to your question is Yes. I wonder about the ancients and what their lives must have been like. The hardships that they endured, the work involved in a typical day to survive. I imagine a flickering fire in that cave with bellies full of nature bounty, which is a romantic notion. Was the cave a safe place to retreat to and easier to defend themselves against other ancients, animals and the brutal force of nature? I am grateful to have running water readily available, a heated home, plenty of food, transportation from point a to b, etc…

  33. living in that era ,had to be hard,they could take vines and make a snare to catch animals,dig a hole and cover it and animals fall into it.and could catch a fish by their own hands,or spear it with a sharp stick.they used hides to keep warm.the skin of hides were on tepees and they laid buffalo hair skin hide on the ground in side the was built inside the tepee,smoke went out the top.caves,I’m sure was the same way,if you find a cave that is big enough to live in ,you can build fire in there and lay down hides to sleep on and for cover,clothes and shoes.they dried their meat ,would last a good while.very interesting ,if you read about the native American Indians.I hated the way the united states broke their promise to the Indians and made them all go live on reservations.met a very nice ute indian today from the four corners two years he will go back to the res. and teach proud of him.he said he cannot get used to this kind of life outside of the res.his home is on the res.and that’s where he will wait until the great spirit comes and gets him ,he said.wonderful man.the ute language is so beautiful to listen I worked with a man called two feathers for 8 months . I could sit and listen to him talk in his native tounge all just flows so beautiful.

  34. I am intrigued with history.. I dont know if I would call it ancient, how could it be so far away when time goes by so fast?
    I live across from the St Andrews Bay in fl, When we were building a new house we had to bring in fill dirt building so close to the water. It just so happened that the Army Corps of Engineers were dredging the bay and had excess dirt to dispose of.
    This dirt was free fill for us.
    A year later when our house was done, my 9 year old son carved himself an arrow from some soft limestone and made a quiver from chineese tallow. It Worked pretty well… So well that when he shot it, it landed smack dab in the middle of the leftover dredged dirt and completely disappeared .
    I helped him look for it, digging through the sand… We found the quiver but the little carved arrow head was gone. He was devastated!
    So we looked some more…
    And low and behold we found his first real arrowhead. It was made of Chert, about 1 1/2″ long. Mustve been from the Natives Americans that hunted conch or maybe a hammerhead shark..those do come close to shore.
    But all and all, that was an odd and humorous event.
    Really, what are the chances of that happening?
    I told him that an Indian boy his age probably wanted him to have that and thats why he lost his. He was happy with that story and so was I!
    My son is 18 now.. And still has his “ancient” arrowhead and a super cool story.

      • Thank you! And i agree with you.. I thnk maybe 4-5000 years ago.. The earth cldve been a tropical rain forrest! Your comment earlier had caught my eye..

    • Arrowheads are amazing pieces of history. I’ve often wondered who was behind that piece of flint. Growing up in Ohio I used to find them in freshly plowed fields sometimes I would find them on river bottoms. One day I was out walking in a field and discovered an arrowhead, I was so excited about that find that I ran to tell others. I left it right where it was, but when I returned I couldn’t find it. After nearly a half hour of searching I saw it there against another rock, it had blended into the background so well I just couldn’t see it. There were many arrowheads in Ohio like that one scattered throughout the valley. Ohio also has a fascinating serpent mound near Chillicothe, OH discovered by surveyors, Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis in 1846. The site is believed to have been built by the Adeena people. Thank you Forrest for sharing your well thought out stories. I for one really appreciate them!!

  35. Great story, Sweet Tea. I agree about time flying!

    I once read that life for the (woodland?) tribes wasn’t so bad in that they only had to work on average 4 hours a day. Lots more time for crafts and storytelling.
    And about the cold, they traveled south for the winter, not to mention the abundance of furs.

  36. Another great story to contemplate. I always wonder who has walked down a path before me. So much to learn about the past

  37. Early on in my search I actually came across this cave. I forget what exactly led me there, I just remember starting with some clue in Cody, WY, and I went from there. I haven’t read through the posts, so maybe others stumbled upon it as well. Anyway, I personally don’t think this scrapbook validates my research in any way. If anything, it nullifies it because I don’t think Forrest would post a relevant location that specific. But it being a seemingly low profile landmark, for a split second I thought, “Whoa! That’s one of the areas the clues led me. What are the chances?!” However, it is still neat that the place I stumbled across turned out to be a childhood memory for Forrest and later he became friends with the men who excavated it. How cool it must have been to have this strong childhood memory come alive with it’s excavation? Yeah, the treasure’s probably there… 😉

  38. I am very intrigued by it and I want to go to that cave right now and sit on that rock. It sounds like Mummy Joe was reburied there, but I may be reading it wrong. I hope visitors are still allowed in. And what a great idea to make a knife like that out of a bone. It’s beautiful.

      • Unfortunate many landmarks are now fenced off. When I was a kid my family used to walk the Madison River Buffalo jump in Montana — many years before it designated an historical site, or professionally excavated. Large bones protruded from the earth and petrified teeth were strewn around like marbles. The rattlers were protection enough against disrupting the land

  39. Heads up if researching tc locations via Utube: A CryptoBlocker is currently attached to Utube adds. The bug will encrypt your data.

    • Good story……..Always try to carry enough stuff on your person to survive for a couple days. It’s the “short” trips that get you.

      Tracy’s home town of Rockwall Tx. is an interesting place. Look up the Rockwall wall. Some say it was built by an ancient civilization, some say it’s a natural geologic formation. Either way it’s interesting.

  40. All of Mr. Fenn’s stories and finds are amazing!! Awesome is the only word I can come up with for all of his adventures and unique items . My Uncle who is 86, had an antique store of finds he had found, acquired, bartered or swapped for and just sold a huge black stone he found to be related in some form to the Indians for $300.00 dollars!! He found an Indian tomahawk blade and got a piece of old wood and made a handle for it and wanted at least $250 to $275.00 for it. He is a retired minister and has traveled in the south and many places and loves finds of unique origin along with the great American Indian items. Wonder if my uncle would help me solve the puzzle of the Fenn Chest? Bet he would be great at it and I am going to give him a call and see what he says…. Everyone loves a great Treasure Hunt. See ya’ll at the finish line. Ms. Girl KEEP CHASING THOSE CLUES AND FIND THE BLAZE……

    • Judy, Just Monday I got to hold in my hand a heavy, black grinding stone that a friend dug out of her yard. You wouldn’t know by looking, but turning it in your hand, there is one sweet spot, one way to hold it and it fits like, not a glove, but you know. She plans to walk the creek across from her home when the water is low.

      • Yes finding arrow heads as a child and my great, great,great,great, great,great,great, GrandPaw Daniel was a Civil War Hero and founded the county that my family comes from. On my grand parents land they found a cannonball inside of a huge bolder rock and got the rock plus the cannon ball an brought it home. That has to do with my heritage and my great grand mother on that side was a half Choctaw Indian and could out fish and hunt the men. She smoked a pipe and gutted the fish herself. We have a Petrified Forrest here in Ms and I went as a child and it was amazing then but is even better now. To hold and use those old items like that grinding stone is amazing and my uncle still has those antiques and treasures them and hated to sell that grinding rock. I would have kept that tomahawk for myself and shown all I know and everyone. Waterhigh how has your searching been going. I have been so busy lately have not sat down and figured out much!! Do you believe Mr. Fenn is giving us clues in all of his scrapbooks and stories? I do but this last one might be the closest he has come to saying a place Cody remember Cody in TTOTC book? Well that needs to be addressed and followed for certain clues. He is smiling at all of us and thinking ” I have them all hoodwinked as to where I hid it”. Well, back to the chase and good luck. See you in the funny papers and at the finish line. Ms. Girl LOL

        • Judy, Don’t you love the thrill of the find? I have a lot of early memories of walking the back forty with my Dad. Now I have to look in new places.
          In regard to my chase–it’s been armchair this year. Those first ideas were my most confident. LOL
          I don’t know if Mr. Fenn is intentionally giving hints in all of his scrapbooks, but I sure see them everywhere!
          If you get to the finish line first, invite me to the party.

  41. Forrest,

    For a few weeks, over the last four years, I spent a couple hours a day walking the ancient riverbanks of the Deadwood River and its tributaries. For thousands of years Chinook salmon, Steelhead, and Sockeye salmon swam over 800 miles inland, to spawn where they were born along the Deadwood River drainage.
    They dammed the River in 1929, at the southern end of a 3,000 acre oblong valley, prime real estate for prehistoric man. Last year a beautiful 7 inch long knife was found, in nearly mint condition. Numerous atlatl points and arrowheads have also been discovered. This year is no different. Within three minutes of walking along the ancient trail, I spotted two points. Both were broken, the jet black obsidian one at its point, and the thicker, more elongate grey slate one about two inches below its point.
    As the sun set, I watched a young boy get out of the family boat with a thirty inch rainbow trout in his hand….nature is still providing man with sustenance in this magical place, despite our best efforts to stop her lifeblood with a slab of concrete and steel.
    I still stare in awe after four years, at the magnitude of the Kokanee salmon run. All of the tributaries to the man-made reservoir turn red with Kokanee in late August. I mean so thick you cannot wade the river without stepping on one. The State dept. of Fish and Game takes nearly 7,000,000 eggs a year from the deadwood River run, and she doesn’t even blink. These eggs are destined for lakes and reservoirs throughout the entire state. Nature is still providing.
    As I watched the Ospreys, Golden and Bald Eagles, and Ravens feast on the bounty I realized that nothing has really changed at that place for thousands of years. Men go there in warm months to fish, as they have for thousands of years. Men lose their tools there, as they have for thousands of years. And men see Nature at her finest there, as they have for thousands of years.
    It gives me goose bumps when I think about it. What if we are getting dumber instead of smarter? What if all we had to concern ourselves with were food, clothing and shelter? Wouldn’t life be so much simpler? What if every computer on the planet crashed tomorrow? Could you survive? What would you do for fun without video games, cell phones, or Television? So many questions, so little time.

    Michael D

    • If everyone knew our lives are judged on what we give away, not what we accumulate it would be so different.

      • I never get attached to things and I give everything away .. I jus cant help it!
        Im so poor now i cant pay attention!
        Im so poor that if freight trains were a dime a dozen , i couldn’t kiss a hobo’s butt!
        But according to you,
        I’ll be a rich woman in the end!

    • Michael D, very enjoyable recount of your annual trek and exploration the Deadwood River drainage. It never ceases to amaze me to how far salmon run to spawn or how far obsidian tools travelled from their rare quarries. In answer to your question, “what if every computer crashed tomorrow…” what would we do for fun…I would become a writer or illustrator; move to the mountains; and probably would have more kids due to cold winters; but we certainly would not be on-line friends comparing totc stories. You should post some photos here of the Kokanee run.

  42. I find this scrapbook full of hints, the one hint that helps is that the cave didn’t have a name, this helps me with ( I give you title to the gold ) so if you look at this with a deep meaning and the 6 stanza still giving direction I take it as I give you a straight path to the cave ( no name ) and the chest.

  43. Adding a thought to the possible solutions, I offer this thought( unless Forrest wishes to change his original comments).

    Forrest started us out with numerous states to look in. Not long ago he removed 3 of them. Why?

    I think he may have done this to change the focus of the search. Yet many feel he was making the search area smaller for us. Really?

    Let’s think about this for a moment. Didn’t he say he would be disappointed if the chest was found now. Now ask yourself, is there something about the poem in which he could change the search and protect his interests in it remaining hidden?

    What if the hunt for the chest starts in a state in which the Rockies are located and ends in one of the states remaining in the list, at where the chest is hidden. That would fit for the poem, wouldn’t it? It may fit for a lot of searchers solutions if they knew this was the case.

    Nothing is changed, except the original states remain in play. Remember, Forrest said the chest was hidden in one of the 3 remaining states, not that the beginning of the search didn’t start in the other states as well.

    I base my theory on Forrest’s nature of looking at things in a relative fashion. Think of the flight down the East Coast and covering Philadelphia with his thumb.

    Look at this as food for thought.

    • @ German, I’m new on the blog and having problems with receiving the email notifications. I didn’t realize Forrest had narrowed to 3 states. Can you confirm which state he ruled out? I would appreciate your help. Don’t want to waste time in the wrong state. Thank you GG.

    • Did he narrow it to 3? I think the states are still the ones on the map in TFTW. Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico – correct???

  44. A friend and I were doing a little prospecting on Lynx Creek just out of Prescott Valley. i was up the bank a little on my knees classifying some material into a bucket. I was seeing, out of the corner of my eye, a small white object which I was thinking was a piece of plastic. I finally leaned over and picked up the most perfect, beautiful pure white arrowhead I have ever seen. The size? It fits perfectly on a dime. The person that made it is an artist. I wish I could have met that person.

    • Vince, a tiny creamy point is intricately woven into a piece of jewelry that I cherish. the craftsmanship invites an interest in the craftsman of old. An interesting scenario would have been if ff secreted away the ancient pieces without the gold, how many would care to take up the search.

  45. How lucky you have been, forrest, to have such stories to tell. How magical it would feel to sit on that rock with generations of life just inches below you. Did the walls whisper their secrets to you? I can only imagine…and I can truly understand your fondness for history. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  46. Remember the other post about the knife hidden in a dark corner of a (chest) and now this one features a knife. Prehistoric thoughts featured a 5 1/2 inch knife found in a cave.

    This is from too far to walk.
    “You must live live a (cave)!” He was scrambling!
    I crossed my legs and told him that his argument reminded me of the lady in the opera who gets (stabbed) in the (chest) but instead of bleeding, she sings an aria.

    Keywords chest, cave, knife. My takeaway. Hidden in a cave is Fenns’s treasure.
    So sally I read your post and your comment here. Could you please finish that story. Where were you going with the flashlight?

  47. Sitting alone by the back wall. Good way to contemplate life…in silence. Sounds mysterious!

  48. Dear F,

    Per your request at the end of the story….

    I love old things and finding cool things. I have learned so much since January about everything from geography to ancient dwellers. People have shared so much interesting information here too. I think I’d be at home as an archeologist.
    PS I have a horse named Lightning, he is smart and somewhat lazy. Must be in the name. :+)

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  49. Hello Mr. Fenn. I have become interested in America’s ancient past. I continue to learn with great interest and have enjoyed every moment doing so. It’s like reading a good book and not wanting to put it down.

  50. Forrest,

    This story, and the meaning behind it, speak so clearly to me now.

    Thanks for the thrill!


  51. Mummy brown: disgusting. Tarry scant when the night is pitch black. Fritos make me too tired to walk on New Mexico’s asphalt. These and other not-so-random thoths are quickly forming into a marvelous solution I’ll call “mumijo”.

  52. i am more intrigued by the ancient past than i ever imagined possible. i owe that to you f. thank you for bringing such an important field to my attention. all is not lost.

  53. “Are there any among you who are as intrigued by America’s ancient past as I am? Tell me.”

    Nope. Much more intrigued about the future and all the adventure it holds.

Comments are closed.