Deadwood Gulch…



I thought I would share the details of my 2nd search for Forrest Fenn’s treasure.  I did not find the treasure but maybe some of my logic can help someone else find it.  Below is my failed solve #2.  My search location was Deadwood Gulch just south of Silverton CO and I will get into the details about the location a bit further below.  Everything below is just my opinion even if I forget to state it sometimes.  Thanks for understanding.

First I looked at the ‘big picture’ because I felt that was missing from my first solve which initially led me to the wrong location for WWWH.  After giving it some thought, I felt the big picture might be related to Forrest facing his mortality, looking back at his life, and making a final statement to the world about his life…or at least a final statement to his father.  Forrest mentioned on multiple occasions that his father instructed him to ‘grab all of the bananas’, specifically while riding on a ‘train’.  I figured the ‘train’ was a metaphor for life and that the ‘bananas’ were a metaphor for seizing every opportunity that life presents.  Since Forrest mentioned this train/bananas metaphor multiple times I felt like he was saying that this was very important and sage advice from his father and that he tried to adhere to it during his life.  From Fenn’s writings, I do feel as though it is important to Forrest that he impress his father.  I then went on to conclude that the treasure chest and its contents represented some of the many ‘bananas’ that Forrest had grabbed during his life.  I felt like this train/banana metaphor from his father might have been what Forrest was referring to when he stated “What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve”.  I personally have not read on any of the blogs where searchers believe a train should be involved because of the banana metaphor (I have seen searchers that like train involvement for the halts but not for the banana metaphor).  Am I the first to analyze this important metaphor from his father and is this what Forrest was referring to with his quote above?  Who knows.

 Forrest’s original idea about the poem and the location was that he would go to the location, die with the chest, and leave the poem for people to come find him and the chest.  For my solution I looked for a location that would include a steam train, a canyon, a river with ‘put ins’ for rafts/kayaks, a potential home of Brown, and other aspects of metaphorical significance for someone dying.  Forrest did say “those who solve the first clue are more than half way there, metaphorically speaking”.  I took this as a hint that metaphors were important to the solution.  I think you can still keep it simple and interpret metaphors in the solve…metaphors are not like some of the crazy complex stuff I see some searchers writing about (anagrams, codes, ciphers, etc.).

Stanza #1
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.

For the first stanza, I took this to mean Forrest went alone to hide the treasure and that he did not tell anyone…so it was his secret.  I interpreted “Hint of riches new and old” as a hint that the location had old riches and Silverton, CO fits this because of all of the mining that took place there (there are old mines strewn about everywhere).  For new riches, it could be a hint of the treasure itself, or possibly all of the great fun to be had in Silverton (rafting on the Animas river, riding the steam train between Silverton and Durango, hiking, fishing, ATVing, etc.)  I thought ‘Bold’ could be a hint to the treasure location, which is just a 200-foot hike up a cascading creek just north of US Highway 550 in Deadwood Gulch (we’ll discuss this further down).

Stanza #2
Begin it where warm waters halt – Clue #1
and take it in the canyon down, – Clue #2
Not far, but too far to walk.  Clue #3A
Put in below the home of Brown.  – Clue #3B

For WWWH (clue #1), I went to the ‘big picture’ mentioned above and the train metaphor.  I felt the big picture and the metaphor were the reasons this location was so important and special to Forrest…and NOT that the location was one that was special because Forrest visited it during his childhood…but instead special for the purpose Forrest was seeking for his final statement to the world (or his father).  Silverton has a steam train that still runs today between Silverton and Durango.  Train stops were sometimes referred to as ‘halts’ in the old days.  These were usually water stops where the locomotive would receive more water for steam powered fuel.  The warm waters are those heated waters stored in the locomotive.  I chose the Silverton station as my WWWH.

When the Silverton train departs, it heads south and down the canyon and follows the Animas river downstream (clue #2 – take it in the canyon down).

For the HOB (clue #3) there are several possibilities (Brown Mountain is 10 Miles due north which is TFTW and Brown’s Gulch is 5-6 miles NW of Silverton which is also TFTW).  There was a previous Silverton solution from another searcher that was using Cement Creek (which feeds the Animas river in Silverton) as the HOB because the locals call the water at the confluence ‘Brown Gravy’ (I doubted this one).  Regardless of which HOB you choose, there is only a single feasible marked ‘put in’ in this area and it is ‘below’ all of these (south and lower elevation).  Just south of Silverton (and north/upstream of Deadwood Gulch), there is a ‘put in’ on the Animas River that is used by the rafting companies and kayakers.  This is an ‘official’ put in with its own sign (see photo).  This ‘put in’ is south / downstream from the Silverton Rail Road station so this also has you moving down the river / canyon.

Below are some additional thoughts on this location and why it might be special for a reason important to Forrest.  I believe Forrest does not want his life or his name to be lost to history like the graves of the French soldiers he stumbled on in the high grass field near the waterfall he found in Vietnam.  I’m thinking he has a strong desire to be remembered long after his death (thus the books, memoirs, etc.).  He was also a very smart promoter and marketer in his life after the military.  Choosing a tourist location like Silverton would be brilliant in terms of ‘marketing’ for his immortality.  If his treasure was found in that tourist town it would be discussed on every train ride and every rafting trip…there would be businesses setup in town around the Forrest Fenn name, and they would probably create a Forrest Fenn museum in the town for the tourists to visit after they get off the train (they have a couple of hours to spend in Silverton before the return trip to Durango).  It would be brilliant!  And Forrest IS brilliant when it comes to promotions and marketing.  I understand that this thought will offend some searcher’s idealization of Forrest and also that Forrest himself might not agree and might be slightly offended by this…so this is just my opinion…but I personally would not put something like this past Forrest and would not blame him for such a brilliant plan!  I just cannot ignore the fact that this man was a self-admitted non-lover of art…yet we know he made a small fortune as a great art dealer.  Why?  Because he knew how to market and promote.  Would Forrest get the same level of immortality if he hid himself and the treasure way out in the middle of nowhere?  I do not think so.  With that said, I do think Forrest has already achieved some level of immortality with this amazing treasure hunt he created, for being a war hero, and with his other books so I do not intend to diminish that with the above opinions…I just think hiding his treasure in a tourist town would take his immortality to the next level…and I do think immortality is important to him and I might not even believe him even if he directly told me otherwise.

Many, many other train hints:
The train hints from Forrest are voluminous and at this point I do not think I could have a solve that does not involve a train.  Forrest has talked and written about trains several times and has made several comments that associate trains to death (I suggest going to the Tarry Scant website and search by ‘train’ to get the exact FULL quotes on the below bulleted items).
·       When talking about his dog Tesuque’s expression when hungry he described it as “Feed me now or there will be a train wreck with no survivors” – Death by train comment #1.
·       When answering one searchers questions Forrest gave a long response that included “Besides, I will probably get hit by a train” – Death by train comment #2.
·       In a separate video interview Forrest mentions “Yet, tomorrow I will probably get run over by a train, but I believe in karma and some of those things.” – Death by train comment #3.
·       In yet another separate interview Forrest states “I dare you to go get it.  If you find it, you can have it.  And nobody knows where it is but me. If a train runs over me this afternoon, it will go to my grave with me” – Death by train comment #4.
·       Forrest provides a very warm written response to a searcher named Diane that wrote to him about hobos and trains and referred to her as “kindred”
·       Forrest quotes his friend Eric that the far away sound of a bell “can be both forlorn and soul-stirring”.   Later in that same topic, he wrote that he acquired from Eric a cast iron bell possibly retrieved from an old steam locomotive that he keeps at his San Lazaro Pueblo.  Forrest has a thing for bells.  The old trains have bells.
·       Forrest mentions in his TTOTC book that as a child he could hear the steam train going out of Katy “The Katy Rail Road tracks were about half-mile from our house and late at night I could hear the steam engines puff and the engineers blow their air horns. It was a soothing sound and sometimes I think I can still hear when the wind is out of the east.” – The Silverton train tracks are east of the potential hiding spot in Deadwood Gulch.  If Forrest was going someplace to die, would he not want something soothing like the air horns from the train?  The Silverton train uses these steam whistles and he could definitely hear them from Deadwood Gulch.
·       The last sentence leading up to the poem in TTOTC says:  “So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure:” The Silverton Rail Road Station was at the end of the “Rainbow Route” which was a steam train dating back to 1888 that ran from Albany to Silverton, CO. (long since defunct)

Stanza #3
From there it’s no place for the meek,  – Clue #4A
The end is ever drawing nigh; clue #4B
There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Clue #5
Just heavy loads and water high.  Clue #6

For Clue #4 (From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh), I have multiple possible interpretations.

My first thought for clue #4 was that Forrest might be referencing the Animas River which is on your left (nigh) while moving south/downstream from the Silverton Station to the ‘put in’ location.  This is the river that runs along the Silverton train tracks.  It is also known as “The River of Lost Souls”.  ‘Lost souls’ are considered to be ‘damned’ souls…since the ‘meek will inherit the Earth’ the meek are not ‘damned’ souls and therefore this would be no place for the meek.  This information about being ‘damned’ or a ‘lost soul’ would be pertinent for any person who is dying (end is drawing nigh/near) and Forrest thought he was going to do this whole poem and treasure hunt to go to the place he was going to die.  Hint – Forrest calls the chest his ‘indulgence’.  If you look up indulgence you find a pertinent definition of “a grant by the Pope of remission of the temporal punishment in purgatory still due for sins after absolution. The unrestricted sale of indulgences by pardoners was a widespread abuse during the later Middle Age” (could Forrest be offering back some of his ‘bananas’ (i.e. treasure) as an indulgence to be pardoned for his sins?).  Forrest’s scrapbook #26 shows an old ‘anima sola’ which depicts a lost soul in purgatory.  Forrest pretended to not know what it was…yeah right.  Could he have been hinting at the Animas river?  I thought yes.  Anima is defined as “soul”.  Forrest has stated he is not really religious and that he is more spiritual…but I think most people have religious type thoughts when facing death and maybe the fact that Forrest was not religious during his life gave him some concerns that he might end up in some sort of purgatory if he turned out to be wrong about religion?

My second thought on this clue #4 ties back to the bananas/train metaphor.  The meek would not be the ones ‘grabbing all of the bananas’ in life’s short (end ever drawing nigh) ‘train’ ride.  Thus, unlike Forrest (and the searcher trying to find his bananas), this would be no place for the meek.  I felt this is less likely to be correct than my first thought on this above but I would not put it past Forrest to have multiple meanings to the clues and I believe the message of the bananas/train metaphor from his father is that “life is short and do not be meek…seize all of the opportunities”.  So, I do somewhat like this second interpretation…just not as much as the first one above.

My third thought on this clue #4 is that this was the land of the Ute Native American tribe.  There was an “Indian Agent” named Nathan Meeker who was slaughtered (along with 10 others) by the Utes in the White River settlement on the western side of the Continental Divide.  The Utes near Silverton were led by the peaceful Chief Ouray and there was no Nathan Meeker around trying to force the Utes into an agricultural lifestyle.  Even still, the end was drawing nigh for the Utes as they were driven from the land near Silverton despite Chief Ouray’s peaceful and diplomatic approach.  I felt this interpretation was less likely than the first or second interpretations above.

For clue #5 (there will be no paddle up your creek), I note the semi colon after clue 4.  Semi colon’s can be used for a change in direction, and I thought that Forrest might be referring to a change in direction because as you continue south/downstream from the Silverton Station and then past the ‘put in’ along the Animas River, after approx. ¾ mile (from the put in) you will come to a creek called ‘Deadwood Gulch’ that feeds into the Animas river.  This Deadwood Gulch creek runs perpendicular (change of direction) to the Animas and it has a pretty steep climb up the mountain from its mouth at the Animas.  I believe Forrest indicates in the poem that it is ‘your’ creek because ‘his’ river is the Animas (river of lost souls) but the creek you want (your creek – the one with the treasure) is Deadwood Gulch.  Hint – ‘Deadwood’ is a term used in the card game Canasta!  If you do not have the first clue you might as well stay home and play Canasta!  You need to head ‘up’ this Deadwood Gulch creek (in elevation – not North).  There is no way you would ever put any sort of kayak or raft into this steep creek and thus there is no need for a paddle.

Clue #6 (just heavy loads and water high).  The creek in Deadwood Gulch flows down from high on the mountain (water high) and features a very nice waterfall (also water high) just below highway 550 (yes, THAT highway 550 – the one also known as the ‘Million Dollar Highway’ between Silverton and Ouray).  Between highway 550 and the mouth at the Animas, the creek also contains lots of old timbers, wood, and cast iron parts from an old mining operation that, I believe, ran some sort of rail cars / trolley down alongside the gulch to carry loads down from the mines further up the mountainside (heavy loads).  When I inspected this part of the creek I did see some sort of iron wheel and some old pieces of metal that looked like they might have been used as tracks.  You have to be careful walking around this area due to all of the mining debris that included wood pieces with old rusted nails sticking out of them.  I walked around this part of the gulch below highway 550 looking for a blaze (besides the obvious waterfall).  I did not find a blaze on that section of the Deadwood Gulch below highway 550 and ultimately decided that I did not like that part of the creek for Forrest’s hiding spot because it did not have a blaze (other than the waterfall), and I could not identify any location down there that would have a spot 200 feet away where some searchers would have been that also coincided with a separate 500-foot spot where lots of people would have been.  In addition, I also did not like the fact that all of that mining debris cluttered the area…if Forrest hid the treasure in this area I could see it being accidentally discovered at some point in the future if they ever decide to clean up all of that mining debris.  If you are down in that lower part of Deadwood’s Gulch searching, I think you need to be wise and think about the part of the Gulch above highway 550 (see explanation below for clue #7).

Other misc.  hints pointing to Deadwood Gulch near Silverton:
·       In OUAW, Doug Preston writes that Forrest originally intended to leave the final clue by leaving his car in the parking lot of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  This museum is located just outside of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of museums in Denver.  The San Juan Triangle is created by connecting the towns of Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray.  Deadwood Gulch is just outside of the San Juan Triangle since it lies just south of Silverton.
·       In TTOTC, there is an illustration of “My Spanish Toy Factory” which shows three children looking down at a triangle formation (marbles) and two of the children is pointing down at the triangle (or maybe just outside the triangle).  Deadwood Gulch is in the San Juan Mountains (San Juan is obviously a Spanish name and could be linked to “My Spanish Toy Factory” for that reason…and isn’t this whole treasure hunt like a big toy for Forrest?)

Stanza #4
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Clue #7A
Look quickly down, your quest to cease, Clue #7B
But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Clue #7C
Just take the chest and go in peace. Clue #7D

I am counting the whole 4th stanza as clue #7.  After searching the area of Deadwood Gulch below highway 550 I think you need to be ‘wise’ that it is not the hiding spot and also ‘wise’ to the fact that the Gulch extends above highway 550 and that area above highway 550 should be considered for a search.  You also need to be ‘wise’ to get in your car and drive up to the top part of the Gulch above Highway 550 because hiking it is impossible unless you are some sort of mountain climber (it is a little over a 2-mile drive from Silverton to where the Gulch meets highway 550).  Thankfully, as you drive up on highway 550 at Deadwood Gulch you come to a ‘turnout’ in the road that is gravel and a place to park your car (see photo).

As you look up the Deadwood Gulch from the mountainside turnout you are treated to a beautiful cascading creek that runs relatively flat and shallow between the steep stone gulch walls up to a small and beautiful waterfall.  The stone gulch walls are covered with all sorts of ‘desert varnish’ in various colors but much of it is a tarry black color.  There is no mining debris in the Gulch above highway 550.  As you look at the small waterfall (which happens to be right at 10,200 feet of elevation and 200 feet from the gravel parking area) you see something that stands out…a blaze.  I had seen this blaze before in a picture of this Deadwood Gulch cascade on Pinterest…and I went there looking for this blaze.  Directly to the right of the waterfall (as you face it) you see this large square shaped red rock facing you with three fat dark black streaks of desert varnish.  The black desert varnish streaks on the otherwise red stone really stands out and is quite beautiful (see blaze photos).

Fire is a blaze and red in color…why not a red blaze?  Tarry scant could refer to the red aspects of the stone that were not covered by the tarry colored black lichen.

Go in peace’ (i.e. Rest in Peace) could be a reference to Forrest dying and resting in peace now that he has paid his indulgence to the searcher.  When I viewed the potential blaze from near the road it appears small and a bit hard to see and almost looks like it could be some sort of native American rock art…but up close you can see that it is quite large and is just lichen created desert varnish with an unusually bright contrast between the black and the red. The only way to get up to the blaze from the parking area is to go into the cascades and walk 200 feet up the creek…there are no side trails and the sides are steep and treacherous and thick with pine trees.  It could be the earlier searchers within 200 feet simply provided Forrest with some nice pictures of their time in Silverton and that the Gulch was not a part of their solutions.  Or, it could be that the searchers were there at a time when the Gulch was full of snow.  This year, the snow was melted by 12May, but normally this time of year that gulch would be full of deep snow making it inaccessible for a search until June.   I had been to this location earlier this year with my snow shoes and snow shovel and learned just how deep that snow was in April.  When I saw the heat wave from 5May to 12 May I guessed that it might be melted and I was right….it was running strong from the snow pack melt but I was able to easily walk up it with some hiking poles and rubber boots (and waterproof gortex pants) …. Fenn being a fly fisherman would not even blink at walking/wading up this cascade.  To get to the potential hiding spot you have to walk through the ‘pinch point’ where the walls of the Gulch are closest together.
Beyond the ‘pinch point’ it slightly opens up on the other side of the pinch point and has an area that has ground with bushes and accessible cavities at the base of the stone gulch for potential hiding spots (see photo).  One of these cavities was about 10-15 feet downstream from the blaze – quickly down.  This was at the base of the gulch and was an absolutely perfect hiding spot for the chest.  The cavity was outside of the creek, so not underwater but still wet…it was about 2-3 feet deep into the side of the Gulch, about 10 inches high top to bottom, and about 3 feet across / wide….and the cavity is in a spot that is hidden behind the pinch point of the gulch so anyone on the road would not be able to see what that crazy old man was doing up there in the Gulch when he was hiding it (see photo – it is the triangular shaped hole towards the right center of the photo with a small log in the water pointing towards it).

I got out my flashlight and shone it into the cavity…I was sure I was going to see some rocks covering the indulgence when I looked inside the cavity.  My heart was broken when all I saw was a bottle, a plastic cup, and underwear!  Yes, there was men’s underwear in the cavity…they looked relatively new and when I looked up the brand name I saw they were sold at Walmart.  I knew I really was up shit’s creek at this point when I found the underwear and I was able to have a small laugh despite my disappointment.  I assume this bottle, underwear, and cup had washed down from the top of the mountain.  There is no reason for people to go into that part of the Gulch beyond the pinch point because there is no fishing to be done in that creek and there are no hiking trails anywhere in the area.  It would be really hard to get beyond that small waterfall and it gets really steep beyond that waterfall so I do not see people hiking up that Gulch just for the fun of it.  It would not really appeal to mountain climbers either because they would get soaked and it would be an insanely cold hike.  There were some other cavities in the base of the gulch that were also empty…but none were as perfect as the one cavity described above…I REALLY thought I was going to find the treasure in that one and my heart was pounding when I saw it.

Other hints related to clue #7
·       Why did Forrest make the upper elevation limit an odd number like 10,200 feet instead of 10,000 feet?  It is not the tree line…the tree line is between 11,500 and 12,000 feet.  The lower limit is a nice even 5,000 feet so I have always wondered if it might be right at 10,200 feet and this solution gave me that 10,200-foot number, which I liked.
·       Within 500 feet of the blaze is a second parking ‘turnout’ on the opposite cliff side of highway 550 that would be more popular because that one would provide the view of the larger Deadwood Gulch creek waterfall that exists below highway 550.  These two turnouts would explain why lots of people have been within 500 feet and why Forrest might have known some searchers were within 200 feet if they took a photo of the cascades / small waterfall above highway 550.
·       People bike on highway 550 all the time and I saw several people on bikes…Forrest hinted that he might just ride his bike there and throw his bike in the ‘water high’ which he could do…just toss his bike into the Gulch below highway 550 and then hike up the cascading creek above highway 550.  At his age now, I think he would need to start somewhere high on the mountain and coast down on his bike and not try to start at a lower elevation and pedal up the mountain.
·       The creek and pinch point could explain why Forrest is confident no one would ‘stumble’ upon the treasure.  It is a great ‘gatekeeper’ for the treasure.  As noted above, there is no reason to go into that part of the Gulch above the pinch point unless you are searching for Fenn’s treasure.
·       Once you are up the cascade beyond the pinch point if you look back you see a wonderful view.  You are looking North and, in the distance, you have a great view of Brown Mountain (see snow covered mountain in photo below).  You also see Silverton and if you stayed there long enough you would eventually hear the train blowing its whistle and ringing its bell from the East.  It is a neat spot.

·       I found a picture of the blaze on the internet after I had my solution for Deadwood Gulch by searching for Deadwood Gulch Silverton Colorado.  Fenn was once asked if the blaze could be pre-determined from the poem before being physically at the search location and he called the searcher a rascal for asking that question and decided after a long deliberation that he would not answer that question.  To me, that leaves open the possibility for finding the blaze prior to being BOTG.  You can find the exact quote if you wish…it is out there.
·       Fenn wrote about lichen in scrapbook 171:  “Because these strong colored rocks are a favorite of mine, once a friend told me that if I took one home, kept it in a sunny place, and sprayed it with beer once a week, it would continue to grown and keep its colors.  It didn’t work.”

Stanza #5
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. 

I believe the 5th stanza is simply Forrest explaining that Forrest is ‘going’ (dying) and that he has his reasons for taking some of his ‘bananas’ to this spot for people to try to find using his brilliant poem.  He has grabbed as many bananas in life that he could and maybe this whole treasure hunt thing was his ‘last banana’.  When you think about it, this poem and this treasure hunt really has been a major ‘banana’ for Forrest.  He has sold many books, achieved fame, and cemented his legacy and immortality.  This was a banana that he could still grab late in life even though he was old, weak, and tired.  Right up to the end, Forrest is grabbing every banana in life and I am sure his father is very, very, proud of him.  I am sure his friends and other family members are proud as well.  He has also enriched many lives with adventure and outdoor fun…and that enrichment of others’ lives has been his ‘stated’ answer…but I think that was only one of the answers (plural).  The other ‘answers’ are more personal IMO and I may, or may not, have guessed them correctly above.

Stanza #6
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold. – Clue #8
If you are brave and in the wood – Clue #9
I give you title to the gold. 

For clue #8 (effort worth the cold), I think my solve was solid.  You have to walk/wade into a very cold creek.  Enough said.

For clue #9 (brave and in the wood), I think that the average person searching for the treasure might look at the Deadwood Gulch cascade with some trepidation…while it is shallow, it flows quite fast and it has a rock bottom.  Average people might think the cascade could knock them off their feet or that the rocks would be slippery…there is some bravery involved walking up that creek towards that waterfall and through the ‘passage’ at the pinch point (hint – Forrest recently said to have ‘safe passage’ and that pinch point in the gulch definitely qualifies as a passage).  The wood clue is obvious….it is DeadWOOD Gulch, and the cavities I found were literally inside the walls of the Gulch thus ‘In the wood’.

I think the rest of stanza 6 was for legal purposes…he wanted to make it clear that whoever finds the treasure gets to keep the treasure.

If you have gotten to the end of this, thanks for reading.  My hope is that maybe some aspects of this solution are correct and maybe can help someone with their solve.  Best of luck to all searchers and stay safe out there.

-Dave from KC


89 thoughts on “Deadwood Gulch…

  1. Thanks for sharing, Dave. Definitely some good tools/logic here for everyone searching.

      • Great solve! Especially since there is a prominent family named Brown who basically started Silverton and still lives there today.
        Did you use a metal detector up near those falls?

        • Hi R., thanks very much. I used my detector down in the lower part of the gulch a bit but it was going off constantly with all of the mining debris down there and I did not want to do any digging (there was an old stone fire pit that I moved the stones to see if anything was under that pit but that is all I did). In the cascade on the upper part, I did not use my detector. For each of the cavities, I got down and shone my light in and moved around the stones inside the cavities to see if anything could be hidden. I am fairly certain the detector would not have yielded any results up the creek. I am moving on from that Deadwood Gulch but have not necessarily given up completely on the area, train, animas, etc. Dave

  2. Very clever and we’ll thought out solve. I wish you would have found it. I like your logic and I agree it would be an excellent way for his legacy to be remembered.

    • Thanks very much Gary, I appreciate that! I wish I would have found it too 🙂 But I had fun. Good luck to you. Dave

  3. Great story! IMO you‘ve been close… not geographically but tactically! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hmm, I’m intrigued. Thanks TLo, Good luck in your search area. Dave

  4. Very well written, I could see it all in my head, even before the beautiful pictures. I have no solve myself as the phrase, “What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve”, sticks in my imagination like a splinter in ones eye. I just can’t see past it, and maybe I shouldn’t. Thanks for the story-JK

    • Thanks very much for the kind words James, I am glad you could see what I was saying even without the pictures….that is a nice compliment. Best of luck figuring out that one important possibility. That one drives me a bit nuts too. Dave

  5. Thank you for sharing a well thought out solve. Are you the same searcher who was interested in Deadwood Gulch a few years back? To be honest, the underwear find doesn’t surprise me – someone may have had a “little accident” and wanted/needed to stash the evidence. That pull-out is mobbed all summer long with people exploring the waterfall and playing in the creek. I am fond of the train connection also and think it is important and possibly related to the winning solve.

    • Hi Sandy, thanks, and it is funny you should say that about the other Deadwood Gulch solve…no, that was not me. However, when I was doing my research and came across that solve I almost had a heart attack thinking it was the same Deadwood Gulch…I was relieved to learn it was a different Deadwood Gulch. So you know that pull out? Does that mean you are one of the fine people of Silverton? Everyone I met was really nice in that little town. As far as the trains, yes, I cannot imagine a train or at least rail road tracks (or water tank) being involved. Best of luck. Dave

      • Dave, I’m on the other side of Molas Pass in Durango. I looked at a Deadwood Gulch solution a few years ago. I looked in the drainage both directions from the road and also from the train tracks. Our ideas were similar. The Rainbow Route is intriguing but I couldn’t make it work…sure wish I could. There are a lot of places in the Four Corners area that offer great potential solutions…and I think I’ve probably searched most of them!

        • Wow Sandy! Did you go all the way up to the waterfall above 550 and search that cavity I mentioned in my solve? I still like the general area for another future solution but for now my brain needs a break. Now that I know you are so close, I might just reach out to you if I think of anything…I want it found. Thanks for letting me know.

          • Yes I have been to the waterfall..its been a few years so I don’t recall the cavity specifically. Reach out anytime, Dal can give you my email. I go to Silverton frequently. That is a prime Lynx spotting area!

  6. I think u are wise to be searching in Colorado!!!!
    Glad u had a safe adventure.

    • Thanks Amy, yea, the trains and old railroad tracks are everywhere in Colorado…and I think Forrest drove and might have done the whole thing in one afternoon so I tend to stay within a range that makes that feasible. Good luck! Dave

    • Hi Michael, thanks very much…I also looked into that Cumbres-Toltec line a little too but was having more difficulty with marrying it to the poem. I might look at it a little closer now. I also have not ruled out the other areas around Silverton…but I need a little break from that after my fail 🙂 Best of luck. Dave

  7. Thanks for writing all of it. Some of your logic is the same as mine. I believe trains are there somewhere in the solve. I’m glad you had this grand adventure and won’t have to wonder later in life it was there or not; grab every banana.

    • Hi Carolyn, thanks and exactly! Once I have a solve I have to go search to get the dang thing out of my mind. It would be torture to sit around wondering if it was in that Gulch…now I know and can no longer think about it. I was watching the weather closely in Silverton in May waiting for some warm weather to melt that snow….luckily for me they have a drought in Southern Colorado and had a warm early May so I got to get it out of my system sooner than I would have been able to do most other years (i.e. due to the massive amount of snow that piles up in that Gulch). All the best. Dave

    • Thanks Eaglesabound. It is a great state for the search I think and I did get to see a nice Bald Eagle too on the Million Dollar Highway….it was flying nice and low. Happy hunting. Dave

  8. Wowie look at that blaze … a slab like stsnds in front of Forrest in the photo with his hat mildew … an arrowhead, and a schoolmasters bell like his father most likely had sitting on his desk. Send that blaze on over to my hidey spot. Interesting solve. ALL IN MY OPINION.

    As always Stay Safe !!!

    • Thanks Lyzeebella…there is a nice picture of the blaze on Pinterest if you google “Deadwood Gulch Cascade Silverton”. That picture is nicer than any of mine. I can see why Forrest is likin the lichen…lol. Best of luck. Dave

    • Hi Dodo, yea, it was fun and a great memory. I will never forget my heart pounding when I saw that cavity. I will take a breather from solving now so I probably will not find the chest…I think it gets retrieved by someone this summer. I know I rushed out there due to Forrest’s gut. All the best. Dave

  9. Hythe blaze shape in the middle also relates to many of the photos and drawings that Forrest has posted in scrapbooks and elsewhere. Just my opinion.

    StaySafe Always

  10. Thanks for sharing this, Dave! I thought it was a great read and you communicated your thought process very well. I particularly agree with the significance you have described regarding the 10,200 foot elevation; that has always seemed like an aberration to me as well. I also think it’s important to think of the hiding location as the spot where Forrest originally intended to die on his own terms.

    Good luck on your future searches. I’m guessing you know about this already, but if you plan on sticking around Silverton for future searches here are some other considerations for possible HOB’s:

      • I’m still on a train solve also but haven’t progressed much further at this point.

        • Sounds like a good starting point…once you have clue #1 you are half way there. Best of luck. Dave

      • Shoot, you are absolutely right, Sandy. Well I do remember finding mention of a Brown family who lived in a historical building in downtown Silverton, CO. I believe they were involved with water management of some sort for the town. I tried to find the correct link I remember finding, but am unsuccessful. There’s just too many Fenn Treasure websites clogging up Google now!

    • Thanks for the kind words Blex. Yea, that 10,200 foot thing was one of the many things that sunk its teeth into me with this solve. WWWH and the big picture are still the main focus and it might be back to the drawing board for me. For now, I will let my brain rest and think about other things for awhile and if it does not get retrieved before I decide to dive back in then maybe I will have another go of it. I am probably only good for about one search per year because once I get locked in on a solve it becomes a little too obsessive for my liking 🙂 I wish I had the time to do this more…but right now I cannot afford the time to become obsessed more than about once per year. All the best on your future solves and searchers…go get it. Dave

  11. Thanks for sharing -Dave from KC,
    I enjoyed your adventure. Sounds like you stumbled upon an old stamp mill? Also looks like a good place to have a face mask on…cause there’s gold in them there cracks. I too have wondered why Forrest mentioned 5,000 feet, perhaps there’s a simple explanation. So Colorado it is, at least in part.

    • Hi Strawshadow, Whatever mining operation was in that Gulch had been reduced to debris so I am not sure what the original structure would have looked like. I did see the wheel in the creek and when I was researching I believe I saw some old photos of the rail car or trolley or gondola system they had to take the loads down to the train. That area does have other old mines that are still standing (although barely). On the mountainside below 550 near the Gulch there is a mine entrance that does go into the mountain and there are several old mining buildings down at the base near the tracks and river. Silverton is a very interesting place and the whole area has unbelievable beauty. All the best, Dave

  12. Dave from KC,

    Great detective and research work. Your story and search are an inspiration to all of us.

    Sorry about not finding the TC, but even so, I’m sure you are envied by many as you were in the Rocky mountains surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

    Good luck and stay safe.

    • Thanks Tarheel, yea, I had a very fun time. It is about 13 hours to drive to Silverton for me and while that sounds like a lot, I am sure that sounds like nothing to many others who wish they could pop out there for a quick hunt over the weekend. I am guessing you are in NC? I have been to Colorado several times the last two years and each time I go out there it seems a little harder to leave. All the best. Dave

    • Hey Tarheel searcher. Where do you live? I am just south of Raleigh. Looking for more NC searchers.

  13. Thanx for sharing your adventure Dave from KC!

    I really like seeing how you put everything together and where it lead you.

    • Thanks swwot, yes, it was a nice little adventure. Writing it up is therapeutic 🙂 All the best to you and your searchers. Dave

  14. Me: “So what did you find in your search under there?”

    Dave in KC: “Under where?”

    Me: “Underwear? You mean you didn’t find any gold?”

    Just kidding Dave—you article had something in it that reminded me of an old Christmas joke.

    Excellent write-up. Man, I wish I could think like you! I think whoever finds the Treasure is going to be able think in two different ways–analytically and metaphorically. I really enjoyed how you came to your conclusions. Awesome. And the pictures are great too. And I am impressed that you are searching in Colorado also—not too many searchers concentrate on that state. All the best to you in your future searches Dave—–thanks for sharing with us.

    • Wow, thanks very much Sparrow. I really appreciate that. Glad you enjoyed it and I just mentioned to swwot above that the write up process is somewhat therapeutic for me. I also really want someone to find the darn thing while Forrest is still with us and am trying to help anyone I can. Best of luck to you and your searches. Dave

  15. Hi Dave,

    Nice write-up and cool stuff.

    Please do not take this as a criticism because it is not and applies to all searchers. And I’m sure it’s been mentioned here at the HoD before.

    For me, my “going in” assumption is that I’m not going to find it but I will have a great time being out in the mountains and exploring nature. If you don’t have this kind of “expectation” you’re setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment. Optimism and enthusiasm are great, but realistically, an honest assessment of your chances of finding it must factor into your calculus as well.

    Look at Ronnie the Scot. It’s costing him a pile of money to come to the US to look, but he’s not expecting to find Indulgence if memory serves. If he does, then that’s icing on the cake.

    So don’t beat yourself up. It’s no fun when you do and that’s not Forrest’s intent, at least I don’t think it is.

    Please take care……. pinatubocharlie

    • Hi Pinotubocharlie, Thanks….well, I have to admit I was really disappointed to find the underwear instead of the treasure. I did have to laugh though…if anyone would have been there to see it probably would have been hilarious. I can only imagine the expression on my face when I first saw the cavity and then how that expression changed when I found the underwear…if someone could have captured that on camera it would probably go viral on YouTube. I wasn’t so upset though at the time that I could not laugh about it and the more I think about it the funnier it gets. I now have a hilarious story to tell my friends and family and that is worth something. I also had a great time and got some great exercise. Its all good! Best of luck to you. Dave

  16. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Fantastic write up. Great research and structure behind your solve. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and results, as well. Keep up the great effort!


    • Hi Iowaengr, thanks so much. I really appreciate that. I love Iowa and spent a couple of years in Ames before grad school in MN. Great people. Now please do me a favor and go find the treasure…I am sharing because I want it found. Best of luck. Dave

  17. What a wonderful, exciting adventure. Very descriptive, easy to follow, I was on pins and needles. Loved all the metaphor interpretations, the connections and logic. Thank you for writing it. I wonder if you e-mailed any part of it to FF prior to putting it on-line, and did you get any response? OS2

    • Hi OS2, Thank you so much and so glad you liked it. I did send it to Forrest last night right after sending it to Dal. I do not think he will read a long one like this though. He has not responded and I doubt he will. If he does, I will add something to this thread about it. Good luck and happy hunting! Dave

  18. Now you have me second guessing a lot of things in the poem. 🙂 Thanks for the story Dave, and good luck in your search.

    • Hi Jason, thanks, but if you have a good solve than don’t let my failed solve make you second guess it. Everything about my solve could be 100% wrong. That is the genius of the poem. I shared my thoughts because I do want it solved and hope some of my logic might trigger something inside someone’s brain that might lead to a breakthrough….so if that was to happen then that would be great! Best of luck and good luck putting the pieces together. Dave

  19. Great work Dave…and cool name too. 🙂

    Reading tales like yours make me itch to get to the mountains this summer. I may not even look for Indulgence, but I need that air and those trees and the magical, tinkling sound of Aspen leaves in the breeze. Sigh…

    Can someone direct me to the Forrest comments about Denver? I can’t seem to find them. Thanks.

  20. Dave- nice work! Trains have bells, and belles have trains; belles also have veils too! Vales to see and uncover to see the beauty below!

    • Thanks John! it might just take a poet to solve that puzzle. Best of luck to you! Dave

  21. You did a lot of research but I don’t see how you linked the hints in the book with the clues in the poem. There is zero chance an 80 year old man shuffled up that cascading creek 5 feet, let alone 200. And anyplace that close to that parking area is going to be overrun with people, some sans underwear apparently. Nice write up but my suggestion is solidify your clues before guessing and seeking confirmation bias. Good luck.

  22. Thanks for sharing Dave, your solve here has a couple things I can see right off that are suggestive of “Fenn speak”: Your blaze has a bell shape on right side, and I believe Fenn mentioned in a scrapbook something about the bell of his house his wife rings being just “to the east of his portal”. Also in the chapter of thrill where Forrest and Donny go in the mountains Donny complains, when they’re entering an always narrowing stream space, that “if we keep going we’ll end up where we’re going”. Your narrow stream between rock walls is sort of like that situation.

    • Thanks Daniel! Wow, cool thoughts that I did not consider but see what you are saying now. Alas, this Deadwood Gulch solve is done…I am sure I will gear up for another one at some point if no one finds it this summer but for now I am on a poem solving hiatus and will go back to spectator mode waiting for someone to find it. I really hope someone finds it! Best of luck to you. Dave

  23. Dave – You may be on track with the train theory. For Forrest to pull off his original plan to end his life at the hide he would have needed a clever way to arrive there without leaving a trail. This is increasingly complicated the more distant the hide is to his home in Santa Fe. I believe that this problem should be in the back of every searcher’s mind because it likely was in the foremost of problems in Forrest’s initial conception of the hunt. His selection of the ideal special location may have been heavily influenced by this. My first thought regarding D.P.’s mention of the Denver Museum car ditch spot was that Forrest would mask his movements by traveling from there anonymously via public transit… specifically bus to Union Station then rail. Then he would have to slip away at a train stop and travel by foot to the hide? What steam trains could he have accessed anonymously from the hub in Denver? What stops are in the search boundary? What are some other ways a guy like Forrest could have pulled this off? This might be the Sherlock Holmes approach to the solve.

    • Hi DWRock, You raise some really good questions. I have wondered about Greyhound in the past and whether they require any sort of identification when buying tickets when Forrest was first planning this? I bet someone has researched this topic and it would be a good topic to discuss. I am not very knowledgeable about this but I definitely would be interested in hearing from someone that did the research on this. Thanks for bringing that up. Dave

  24. Hi Dave,
    That is the Detroit Mine remains below the falls. Almost all of the land there is private property mining claims. The assessor in Silverton has maps and you can track down the property owners. I explored that area about 5 years ago and also the entire canyon down to Rockwood. Some treasure hunting but mostly for fun. Found old graves, cabins, mines and a sawmill.

    • Hi TrainGuy, yes, thanks for pointing that out. I did realize that the land below 550 might potentially still be private and meant to mention that as another reason I did not like the lower part of Deadwood Gulch. However, I did research this thoroughly and the land above 550 is BLM up to a certain elevation (before being part of the San Juan National Forest Wilderness). The land above 550 up to that small waterfall is definitely BLM. Did you search above 550 in the Gulch up to that waterfall? If yes, I would love to hear if you looked into that cavity I found. Thanks also for reminding me of the name of that Detroit mine…I believe they ran some sort of rail car or trolley down the side of the Gulch from their mine. I saw some old pictures of it and I also saw a wheel in the creek…any info you have on that would be appreciated as well. Thanks again. Dave

      • Actually, I believe it was the “Thunder Tunnel” mine that was just off to the North side of Deadwood Gulch and the Detroit mine was a little further away from the Gulch. I think the Thunder Tunnel mine would have been the one running the rail car down the side of the Gulch since that mine was literally located in the North wall of the Gulch.

  25. Dave from KC,

    Just something came to mind in for a question for you. In the area that you were searching, is that a place where F really would want to end his life among old ruins of mining? Forrest’s chapel is in the mountains and it would be sure he wouldn’t want to look at all of the desecration from mining.

    Every where one looks in that area there has been heavy mining and not to mention the EPA’s mess up at the Gold King mine, spilling mining processes down Cement Creek into the Animas River. I don’t think that F would choose a area that looked like that for his final resting place. Also that area has a lot of very steep mountains, not a place for an 80 year old, nor a place where a child can go with the family.

    I’m just say’n only because I have went through that area several times and it’s not a place where I would want to rest my body. I would think F has a better chapel in his mind. Then again who knows? Food for thought.

    Better luck next time.

    • Hi Charlie, The Gulch above 550 does not have any of the mining debris and it is absolutely beautiful. The cascades that he would need to walk up are relatively flat, shallow, and the current slows way down in late summer. He would be able to walk up those as easily as walking up a trail at age 80 and him being a fly fisherman it would not scare him one bit. The place is great for kids…I m a little surprised you do not know that if you know the area…there are tons of families that bring their kids there to ride the train. Forrest mentioned a 3 year old would need some help walking to the treasure….I think that is about right because I think a 4 year old or older would be able to walk up those cascades on their own in late summer and while a little scary, they are not dangerous. As for the overall location, I think I explained that in my big picture write up above…I think this could be a very special and important place for Forrest for reasons other than just its beauty….but it certainly is also beautiful so I guess we’ll have to disagree on that point if you do not find the beauty of that area. I think it is stunningly beautiful. Thanks for your opinions though. Dave

    • Also, that environmental accident from the Gold King mine happened well after Forrest hid the treasure so that could not have factored into any sort of decision making by Forrest.

      • Dave,

        Yes the mountains are majestic, but my beauty is different as I grew up in the mountains not far from where F spent his summers. Now those mountains hold a lot of beauty. Different strokes………

        Most places in that area is fun to explore, Gold King was just a portrayal and I knew of it’s history and the history around Silverton all of the way back before the Utes made a deal for the miners. Mining was being done well before the deal was made. I have to admit there is quite a history in that area. But not my cup of tea.

        Just say’n different strokes 🙂

    • Keep in mind Charlie, Forrest WAS a treasure hunter. Not unlike those miners that were grabbing their own bananas during the gold rush. He’s also done some excavating of his own that I do not think he would consider a desecration of the lands he excavated. Food for thought. What are your hints of riches old in your solve? Dave

      • Dave from KC,

        I think I know where you are going with riches new and old. It could very well be of the old riches of gold to the new riches of gold found in the area.

        For me the old and new pertains to the contents of the chest and the chest.

        • Hi Charlie, your hint of riches old is plausible. However, you did not answer the other part of my question. Do you think Forrest desecrated the lands he excavated? Also, if he felt mining resulted in a desecration, do you think he would have collected all of those gold nuggets? Dave

  26. Best solve I’ve read to date. Very nice work. Happy searching and good luck!! I’m still sold on my solve in Wyoming but now you have me intrigued , I think it is an absolutely brilliant solve and definitely worth some more B.O.T.G.

  27. I haven’t been over there and can’t go because of kids so I really don’t know what it’s like over there. But did you try looking not right next to the water/blaze and instead look at places a little further off where you can still view the blaze? Maybe off a little by some trees/bush/sage brush?

  28. Hello, nope, I am looking in, and around, YNP now….where FF’s heart has always been. Dave

  29. I became aware of Forrest Fenn less than 2 weeks ago because of my son (26). We just booked a flight to Denver, made arrangements with a relative in Denver to pick up some camping equipment, and are heading down to Silverton to explore for a few days. My conclusion for Silverton was for different reasons than yours, but that’s the fun of this adventure isn’t it? I did thoroughly enjoy your write up on your solve and agree with everything leading to Deadwood Gulch. No matter what else happens in this adventure, the real treasure for me will be time spent in the mountains with my son. Thanks for writing this up, I’ll share my adventure in a few weeks when I return.

  30. Enjoy, its a beautiful drive on the million dollar highway and its a neat little town (very small). Lots of mining so metal detectors will yield lots of false alarms if you are detecting around any old mining areas. I now believe it is in an area of Montana outside of Yellowstone so I do not think its in Silverton or anywhere else in Colorado. With that said, it is still a very cool place to visit and very safe (as long as you don’t step on any old rusty mining remnants). Good luck, have fun, and thanks for the nice words about the Deadwood Gulch write up.

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