Not in Yellowstone…


SUBMITTED May, 2018
by dal

 

Journalist and traveler Issac Cole kept a podcast titled “On The Road With Charlie

Charlie is Issacs dog who travels with him and rides shotgun in his truck. His podcast is about traveling the roads and meeting Americans while tracing John Steinbeck’s route in “Travels With Charlie”. Issac’s podcast is an interesting journal and tantalizing journey, well worth the effort of listening.

In 2017 Issac interviewed Forrest. When that interview was published in May of 2017 it chased many folks away from looking for the chest in the Yellowstone area because although Forrest claims to have spent about 19 of his first 20 summers hanging out in that park and nearby, Forrest mentions in the interview that he has not been back to Yellowstone since 1950.

If this is true, Forrest could not have hidden the chest around Yellowstone, since it was hidden well after 1950. So why bother going there to look for it?

The question seems reasonable. The logic impeccable.

But there’s a problem…

Forrest visited West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park many times between 1950 and 2010.

This is not something I made up…It is fact. And it begs the question; why did Forrest say he hasn’t been there since 1950, when he certainly has?

I think I know what happened…but lets start at the top..

Below is a transcription of the relevant podcast section of Issac Cole’s interview with Forrest:

————————————–

FENN: I was a professional fishing guide when I was 13 years old. 

COLE: In Texas? 

FENN: No, in Yellowstone. West Yellowstone, Montana and I could… I ran a tackle shop all by myself. The guy that owned it was drunk all the time, so one summer I ran the tackle shop. I could make a gross of flies in a day and wait on customers at the same time. But you know, I tied catgut leaders, tapered leaders, I made split bamboo fly rods. I had a name for every fish in that country up there: Mary and Phyllis and Johnny and I knew where all the holes were. 

I’m an outdoors person. It wasn’t so much fishing, it was being there. I remember when I could hardly wait to get on the river, and catch a big old brown trout. I’d get out there, get out of my car and look  around and walk over and sit under a tree for an hour and watch the Osprey catch fish, and watch the Eagles try to take it away from the Osprey. God has a summer place up there you know?

COLE: I haven’t fished up in West Yellowstone but I grew up going to uh, a cousin of mine owns Campflre Lodge.

FENN: What’s the name of it? 

COLE: Campflre Lodge. It has a little restaurant there and log cabins and it’s right on the Madison. 

FENN: That’s after my time. 

COLE: Yeah, probably.

FENN: Because I spent 19 of my first 20 summers, three months, in Yellowstone or West Yellowstone but the last time I was up there was 1950.


Issac missed asking the follow-up question that he should have asked. Certainly understandable since Issac was not particularly fixated on the hunt for Forrest’s treasure nor was he knowledgeable of Forrest’s background. Issac really didn’t have the framework to understand that what Forrest just said was going to be a big issue for many searchers for many years…

The question we wish Issac had asked Forrest at that point was:
“Excuse me Forrest but did you just say you have never been back to Yellowstone or West Yellowstone since the summer of 1950?”

Unfortunately no such follow-up was asked and no clarification about that statement has been made by Forrest.

So then, why do I say that Forrest has, in fact been back to West Yellowstone and Yellowstone after 1950? Where is my evidence?

I will share a few pieces of evidence that I have with you.

First is the construction of the Dude Motel in West Yellowstone.

Forrest, his brother Skippy and friend and brother-in-law Donnie Joe built the Dude Motel which is still on Boundary Street in West Yellowstone. They also built a tavern behind the motel, but the tavern is no longer there. Forrest wrote a story in his book,  Too Far To Walk, about building the motel. I don’t believe he mentions the year it was built in his story which appears in Chapter 19 of the book. But Forrest answered an email from a searcher in 2011 and we published the relevant part of that email here on the blog. In that email Forrest states that they built the motel in about 1962.

Second is Crayton’s recollection from somewhat later.
Crayton is Forrest’s nephew. Remember that Forrest’s mom and dad ran a motor-court called Fennhaven Cabins in West Yellowstone in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. When they sold the motor-court they bought an airstream and still spent their summers up there. Crayton has vivid memories of Forrest and family spending time in West Yellowstone in the summers to visit his mom and dad and do a little fishing and relaxing. Crayton’s best memories of those visits are from around the end of the 60’s to the early 70’s.

Third is a photo Forrest showed me in August of 2011.
I can’t show it too you because I don’t have it. I was visiting Forrest in Santa Fe and we were sitting on his back porch sipping cold drinks and looking at some photos from his collection. One he showed me and talked about was taken just a couple years earlier. It was of Forrest and Peggy and another couple standing at Forrest’s favorite bathing hole, Ojo Caliente, on the Firehole River. The photo was taken from the bridge that crosses the river and looking down at the folks as they posed for the pic. Forrest and Peggy in the photo looked exactly as they did in real life on that day. Because of their age in the photo it could not have been more than a few years old.

So, why did Forrest say that he had not been back to Yellowstone since 1950?

I don’t think that’s what he said. I think that’s what we heard him say…which is often the case. It’s my opinion that listeners sometimes have different interpretations of what Forrest meant than what he intended. I think this is one of those cases…

I think the words Forrest spoke are clear-

“…I spent 19 of my first 20 summers, three months, in Yellowstone or West Yellowstone but the last time I was up there was 1950.”

But Forrest is not referring to the actual last time he was up there…He is referring to the last time he was up there for an entire summer (three months).

And that is probably an honest fact…

From 1950 to 1970 he was in the Air Force and never had three months off in a summer. After 1970 his life just continued to be busy and he never took three months off again to spend in Yellowstone…

Most people can say the same thing. Few of us…after high school…except teachers, retirees and some college students…ever had three months off in the summer to go play…

So, in my opinion and based on the info stated above (and more)…Forrest just meant to say something that he didn’t. He had one phrase in mind and he spoke another. The interviewer didn’t know enough about the situation to follow-up on it.

But, if you don’t want to waste your time searching around Yellowstone…no problem. There are plenty of great places to waste time looking at the splendid beauty of the countryside…eagles, osprey, buffalo, bear, trout, ants, beaver, otter….

-dal

 

 

 

 

 

Forrest Gets Mail – 17

Mr. Fenn,
My students have a question for you. Since you have spent much time in the west around Yellowstone, do you have any personal experiences with cattle ranching and cattle drives?

Franklin

Franklin,
Many years ago, my good friend J. Evetts Haley (the writer), invited me to help him brand calves on his ranch in the panhandle of Texas. It was 103 degrees in August and they built a big fire to heat the branding irons. There was no cooling breeze. After the cowboys roped a calf, it was my job to run up and throw the poor thing on its side. I think every one of those critters kicked me in the nose. After the branding, the calf jumped up and ran off, and I had to do it all over again. That day was so hot and sweaty I lost 6 pounds. All of my aspirations for being a rancher were used up that day and I never wanted to see a branding iron again. Please tell your students to study hard so they don’t have to grow up to be a cowboy. f

Has it Been Found?..

SUBMITTED JULY, 2017

 

In July of 2017 Perry Stone pushed out a video on YouTube claiming he had found Forrest Fenn’s treasure hiding spot…not the treasure mind you…just the spot where the treasure was hidden. The chest was not there. So of course Mr. Stone believes that the chest had been found and removed.

These are not unusual claims. I would say there have been a few dozen such claims that I am aware of since Forrest hid Indulgence. A minority have become videos that still float around on YouTube giving the impression that the chest has been found and the chase is finished.

It seems these folks have a difficult time admitting that their solution was wrong and led them to a place where the treasure chest is NOT, instead of where it is. So, rather than admit defeat they often decide that they were correct, but someone else got to the location before them and removed the chest. What is so interesting to me about these claims is that as far as I can tell no two of them are in the same location.

Today, Forrest was asked by a reporter in Denver if Mr. Stone’s claim was true. This is Forrest’s generous response:

I enjoyed Mr. Stone’s well-presented video. He is a far thinker and has a knack for analyzing. There are half a dozen other videos that were made similarly. The treasure remains where I hid it about 7 years ago. It is interesting that the film makers are so positive while leading their viewers to where the treasure chest never was. I compliment all of them and am reminded that it’s all about the thrill of the chase. f

By the way you can view Mr. Stone’s video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ5fWkYb708&amp

Safety First…

 

SUBMITTED JUNE, 2017
by Forrest

 

When I said the treasure was not hidden in Utah or Idaho it was my plan not to narrow the search area further. But in the light of a recent accident, and in the interest of safety, I feel it necessary to alter that plan.

The treasure chest is not under water, nor is it near the Rio Grande River. It is not necessary to move large rocks or climb up or down a steep precipice, and it is not under a man-made object.

Please remember that I was about 80 when I made two trips from my vehicle to where I hid the treasure.

Please be cautious and don’t take risks.

My guess is that in the last 7 years more than 250,000 people have searched for the treasure without suffering any serious injuries. I invite you to add your name to that list. The search is supposed to be fun. f

 

Forrest Gets Relative Mail…

Dear Forrest,
I am writing you tonight wanting to thank you. I have just recently discovered your story about the hidden treasure and it brings me a sense of adventure and motivation. I love everything about it. The best thing though is its bringing together a once torn apart relationship with me and my mother back together again . So thank you for that .

We recently had a birthday celebration for my nephew and she attended for the first time in a long time . We hadn’t talked very much over the years due to decisions and choices she choose to take when I was in my youth. Grudges and bad feeling and really just being stubborn I never made any attempt to reach out and make our relationship better. So sitting around the party I brought up your story and I promise for the next four hours we talked about what it would be like taking a trip and searching and the things we would see along the way and how much our lives would be so different if we were to ever find the treasure.

In those brief hours talking about it for a moment I had forgotten all the bad things she had done the bad things I had said and it was just us again mom and son no worries in the world . We talked about it throughout the night and even into the next morning when she called me . I feel your story has gave us a starting over point in life with our relationship and I just want to thank you for that Mr. Fenn.
 
Even if we never get to take a chance to search for your treasure you have helped me find mine again so thank you again.
 
Stay young my friend,   Jack

Forrest Gets Lifesaving Mail…

Dear sir,
I have seen in recent articles that you are getting a lot of pressure to end the search for your hidden treasure. I would be lying if I said that this email is not an attempt to dissuade you from ending the treasure hunt. I will keep it short, but I would like to tell you how your treasure hunt saved my life.
To make a long story very short, due to a failed marriage and some other life events I was on the verge of committing suicide. To put it simply the thrill of the chase saved my life. I learned of the treasure, and searching for it gave me a reason to keep on going. Thank you. I haven’t found it, and probably never will, but I have something to strive for at least.
Full disclosure, as I stated above the purpose of this email is to weigh in on whether the Chase should continue. Not that my opinion matters but since I’m writing this anyway I might as well share it.
You have stated very clearly multiple times not to look for the treasure anywhere a 80 year old man could not go, or where a 87 year old man could not go back to. You have also said not to go alone. Some people for whatever reason choose to disregard both of these. That is 199% their own fault, and the only reason I can think of to go alone is because a person is greedy and does not want to share. There are more than enough people in the community of searchers that it is easy to get online and find a group to go searching with( as I have done multiple times).
Just my two cents.

Thank you!
Jon

Forrest Gets Thankful Mail…

Mr. Fenn,
I just want to let you know what your chase has done for my son. He is almost 9 years old and has autism. He has never shown any real interest in doing things until he sound out about you treasure. He now loves to look for it where ever we are.
It is one of the reason he has come out of his shell. He loves the idea of being a treasure hunter. We have made a few “real” trips out west to look for it, but whenever we go camping even here in Michigan, he wants to see if he can find it.
We went to Iceland for a camping trip on spring break this year and had to spend some time looking for your box there. That trip would not have been possible if he had not learned how to camp to find the treasure (we did not find it in Iceland).
The quest has help him see the natural world and enjoy the outdoors, and we are trying to encourage it build on that foundation.
I have wanted to sent this for awhile, but have not gotten around to it.
Thank you for helping my son and me,

Thankful parents

 

Forrest Gets Motivational Mail…

Dear Forrest,

I wanted to just say thank you for the weight loss.  I am preparing for my
4th treasure hunting expedition and in preparation decided I needed to lose
some weight.  I set a goal of 35 pounds for my trip in August.  I started in
February and have lost 29 pounds.  I have 6 more pounds to go to reach my
goal.

My wife said even if I don’t find the treasure she thanks you for the
motivation to get into better shape and lose weight!

Thanks Again!
Vinson Myers

Forrest Gets Engaging Mail…

Howdy Forrest!

Just wanted to let you know you took part in my engagement last year!

Recently, my girlfriend and I took a train from Boston out to New Mexico and then up to Wyoming to treasure hunt in northern Wyoming over the last week.  We were heading up towards Jackson, but due to the forest fire, we stuck around in Pinedale, WY.

So under the guise that we were looking for your treasure (I wish we had found that also) I buried a box of my own right along Fremont Lake, WY.

She found it the next day, and in the bottom of the box was an engagement ring.  She loved it, and the adventure as well.  So thanks for helping in setting it up!

Great adventure,

Jeff

https://youtu.be/XeoZl5VVk9o