SUBMITTED September, 2018
My intrigue with the Fenn treasure began earlier this year. As soon as I read about it, my wife and I were hooked. As much as I wanted to know where the treasure was, it seemed like such an impossible feat trying to put all of the clues from the poem (as well as from Forrest himself) together into pin-pointing a location.
I did some research and found out there wasn’t really anything available to accomplish this. I’m employed as a Software Engineer and decided to take this project on myself. I began by implementing the items I knew were definite clues…. things like the possible states, elevation, and vegetation. Forrest also stated he only walked “less than a few miles” and that searchers have been within 500 and 200 feet of the treasure.
As you can see from the map, I created a Google Maps search tool as well as a “Features” search. The Google Maps option is for searching specific areas, and the Feature tool is used for searching things more specific to the poem or hunches you may have (ie.: Brown, warm water, ect.).
With the layer selector on the left of the map, you’re able to choose one or more layers based on elevation, vegetation, and my “Trails” and “Roads” methods. Each selected tool has it’s own color in the map when checked.
As far as the layers go, here’s some basic explanations:
Elevation: (Almost) Everything between 5,000-10,200 ft. in elevation. I excluded Tribal lands from the beginning since I didn’t believe Forrest would hide it there, let alone encourage searchers to trespass. I thought it’d be pretty disrespectful.
Vegetation: I added a 500 ft. buffer to everywhere there was Sage and Pine (and Pinyon in one of the options since people have opinions about it), and found out where there intersected inside the correct elevation.
Trails method: I took every trail that USGS had a record of, added a 500 ft. buffer on each side of it, and then removed a 300 ft. buffer on each side internally, and clipped out the areas that didn’t match the vegetation/elevation layers. So you are left with a 200 ft. sliver on each side (giving the 500/200ft search area).
Roads method: I added a 3 mile buffer to every road in the “Treasure” states and clipped out the areas that didn’t fit the vegetation/elevation layers.
I worked hard on this map but also had a lot of fun with it. Most of the work was finding the data from USGS, parsing out the relevant information, combining and clipping the data from other sources, and finally making it easy to use as a tool. In the beginning I was just hammering my personal development laptop trying processing all the data. I would put ice packs in zip-lock bags under it so it wouldn’t thermal throttle when I would run my scripts that would sometimes take days. I ended up picking up a used rackmount server with dual Xeon CPUs and upgraded it to have 72GB of RAM. It’s been running non-stop for a few months now with different experiments I want to try.
Earlier this month my wife and I packed up our kids and headed on our own hunt based on information we gathered on possible locations from the map. Although we didn’t find the treasure, we found some wonderful off the beaten path areas that we wouldn’t have known existed without this map. We continue our search using the map and look forward to finding more search areas for next time!
My goal with creating this is having a reliable tool that every searcher can use. I plan to implement a social crowd-sourcing solves feature, and a few other neat features in the next few weeks (check the FAQ on the homepage for more info).
Feel free to email me any questions at:
Joe at ipson dot me
or if you’re feeling generous, Buy Me a Coffee
Good luck on your search!