Kirwin Search Report…

SUBMITTED OCTOBER 2014
BY TOMWHAT

 

Oh this spot was so good, so juicy I couldn’t resist. So many coincidences, it couldn’t be coincidence.. could it?

Let me back up a few weeks to let you see it through my eyes. My birthday is coming up, all the pieces have fallen into place, even a few I could never have guessed. A birthday present for me; a road trip to go pick up the Chest!

A couple problems of course, nothing can be perfect. I’m out of vacation time. The kids start school the day after I plan to leave. I’m going anyways.

I set out. East. Out of Washington. Across Idaho, the narrow part at the top. Night falls. Montana. I sleep at a rest stop. I’ve brought an air mattress to sleep on in the back of my rig, but the inflator I’m sure I checked before I left does not have the poop to inflate it. I sleep in my passenger seat. The rest stop has a faulty streetlight that winks on, I awaken, drift back to sleep, the light winks off, I awaken, drift back to sleep. Rinse repeat.

Sun shines. It’s my birthday. I drive. I hit the next town, stop for fuel, cigarettes. I don’t often smoke, but I do when I’m making a thousand mile cannonball run to pick up a million bucks worth of gold. A town or two later I stop for a fancy breakfast. Happy birthday to me. I think nothing more of it.

Wyoming. Cody. I stop at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. A fantastic, top rate museum and art gallery. Because of silly delays, I arrive just an hour before closing. I don’t pay the admission, I just check out the free parts. I see Joseph Henry Sharp’s Absarokee Hut that Forrest purchased, moved, and donated to the museum. It is no small feature, it sits in it own private garden. I spend too much time, but not nearly enough time, in the Firearms Museum. I miss entire rooms as I rush through. A gun nut such as myself could spend several full days here. They have a complete, and I mean complete, history of firearms. 7,000 firearms and 30,000 firearms-related artifacts; amazing.

Enough with the background, I need to get on with the search. Leave Cody, I spend the night in Meeteetse. Dedicated searchers will note that Meeteetse is the location of Forrest’s first blog post, where he encountered the finders of the Spanish saddle and picked up the tacks from the back of the pickup.

When I was on an anagram kick early on the Chase, working on the Marvel Gaze line that I have always thought was a mash up, I tinkered with some other lines to see what happened. I found that “From there it’s no place for the meek” anagrams to “Meeteetse Pitchfork realm of horn” a year before it was discussed on the boards. (The Pitchfork ranch is where that saddle had been found.) The earliest public reference I can find is in June of 2014 on Dal’s board. I can offer no proof other than my word that I had worked out this anagram in May of 2013 and kept quiet. This public revelation is one of the things that re-excited my passions and got me back out there this year before someone else figured the whole thing out.

Oasis Motel & Rv Park in Meeteetse. My second time in as many years staying there. Last year I had the wife and three kids in tow so we rented one of their cozy little cabins. This time I opted for a ground floor room in their motel section. If you decide to search this area, I recommend The Oasis, and the town of Meeteetse as a way station. You can get snacks, beer, gas, and a cheap night’s stay indoors.

I can’t sleep. Too excited. I finally drift off and awaken well after dawn. So much for an early start. I gas up, as the next leg of the journey does not lend well to running out of gas.

Kirwin. There it is. I said it. I spilt the beans. I’m still certain this ghost town is central to finding the Chest. Go research it, look it up on the map. What did you find? It was a mining town just after the turn of the century with a unique feature in the Wild West; it had no saloons and no red light district. Pure, simple, honest. No monkey business in this town, just hard work and a dream. Remind you of anyone?

If you looked at a wide view of the map of the area, you will have noticed some features that peaked your interest. You have to use route 212 to get from Cody to Meeteetse, 212 degrees Fahrenheit is the boiling point of water; Where Warm Waters Halt. Chief Mountain is to the north; If you are brave, like an Indian Brave or Chief. Brown Mountain to the northwest; Home of Brown, but this is a false clue! Bald Mountain to the southeast, Forrest writes of going bald. Yellow Mountain to the west-northwest; the color of tea in Tea with Olga. Dollar Mountain to the west-southwest; Doller on the bells he’s planted. Franc’s peak to the north-northwest; it’s spelled that way for a reason I could not discern in my reaserch, the typical spelling for the name is Frank, but Franc refers to the French Franc. Forrest wrote an article where he claimed to have bought an artifact in France that was labeled in Dollars, but it surely would have been priced in Francs by a French shopkeeper in France.

Have I whetted your appetite yet? You’ve looked at the map then, so you now know Kirwin sits on.. wait for it.. the Wood River. Oh this is it. We are Brave and In the Wood baby!

Answering a question on mysteriouswritings.com, Forrest wrote “There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe.” The Continental Divide runs through the Rockies, and most of the rivers that start from raindrops falling on these mountains are north of Sante Fe. The warm waters of the Gulf halt on the east side of the Continental Divide. This is how I justify “Begin it where warm waters halt”. In no way can Forrest be precise about where the Poem starts, that would make the solve too obvious.

“Take it in the canyon down” means this is not a meandering river through a meadow, it crescends through a rugged rock lined canyon.

“Not far but too far to walk” is an interesting turn of phrase. One way to see it is that you drive past this bit. Another is “meh, it’s too far to walk all the way, I’ll just drive and start when it’s convenient.” Kirwin is a known place for parking your horse trailer and riding off into the wilderness. Hunting Bighorn sheep at this time of year is the thing to do, from talking to everyone else that I ran into on horseback up there. (I spoke with a hunter that said up till 4 years ago the mountains beyond Kirwin were crawling with bighorn; “realm of horn” from the above anagram.)

“Put in below the home of Brown”. Welp, once I stumbled onto this, it was the first time I wet my pants a little because of how well it fit. If you have done your digging, you will have found that in the early 1930’s, Carl Dunrud purchased the Kirwin area and the lands around it. He built a Dude Ranch down the hill, and Amelia Earhart visited and fell in love with the area. She asked Dunrud to build a cabin for her, where she planned to come after her flight around the world. In 1937, when she disappeared on her flight around the world, the cabin was four logs high and construction stopped. The cabin was never finished. You can still see the logs deteriorating if you visit.

WTF does this have to do with anything I hear you ask. You haven’t researched enough! Forrest spent a quarter of his life being a pilot and dreaming of pioneers. Amelia Earhart was a pioneering pilot. Of course he would know of her, read her biographies. The tie in? One of her yearbook captions read “A.E. – the girl in brown who walks alone.” That takes care of the opening line “As I have gone alone in there” as well as the much discussed “home of Brown”. She changed high schools six times, and her senior photo was captioned “Meek loveliness is ’round thee spread.” No Place For The Meek indeed.

Amelia is quoted as saying, after her first Transatlantic flight as a passenger, “maybe someday I’ll try it alone” which she did in 1934. Amelia was married to George Putnam on February 7, 1931. She wore a simply cut brown suit with brown shoes. In 1932, she published a book of her exploits thus far, entitled “The Fun of It”. In this book, there is mention of the 1929 Women’s Air Derby in which Amelia competed, but was marred by the tragic loss of a fellow female pilot named Marvel Cronon. (But tarry scant with marvel gaze). In 2009, Susan Wels published a book about Amelia “The Thrill of It“. I believe “it” is the word that Forrest mentions that is key. ‘IT’ is The Chase. The Chase for Fun, the Chase for the Thrill.

The same night I told my long suffering wife that I was going to search again for treasure, not asking her permission so much as telling her my destiny, I later checked the website  wherewarmwatershalt.com that got some minor attention a while back. The audio had changed. What I heard chilled my bones, and for the second time I wet myself a little.

In case the audio is gone by the time you read this, the wherewarmwatershalt.com audio is crudely transcribed as follows:

Some simple, single note pop tune in low definition audio (which I later found to be the opening notes of The Lincolnshire Poacher, used in a shortwave numbers station run by the British), then a woman’s voice states the numbers “39715” four times. Then “186” three times. Then the digits “1234567890”. Some beeping. Static on the line, all of this in a woman’s voice mind you, but now a little more urgently “We do not hear you. Please answer. We are running North and South online 6310”. Some fading in and out with the digits “125”. Then a fade to the intro of a radio show “Mr District Attorney” with the sponsors of the Bristol Myers laxative Sal Hepatica billed as “The Smile of Health” and some hair tonic named “Vitalis” which is still sold on eBay. The show title is “The Money Machine”, the final episode of the radio program airing 3 years after the previous weekly show ended, this last broadcast on April 11, 1951.

The hair raises on the back of my neck as I realize the import of what I just heard. What else can it be? One of three things is possible at this time. First, someone has found the Chest, using the same logic and research I have. Second, someone has followed the same line of reasoning and research as I had, searched completely, not found it and is just playing with us. Third, Forrest himself is behind this as a clue. He had some hapless woman read the lines he wrote, plenty of nonsense in there, recorded them, jumbled it all up, and posted them for us to find. You don’t think that he has a friend or two that can set up a website, record and mix audio for him?

Anyways, you got all this, right? I have no idea what the rest of the audio means. The numbers, the quote from Mr. District Attorney. But that middle quote, Oh My. You have broken away to read up on Amelia Earhart, have you not? Then you know the last words heard from her were “We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait.” And “We are running on line north and south.” Scroll back up and look how close this is to the audio from the website, but just different enough that it would not be picked up in a Google search. Good thing I use Bing.

What of this direction that Amelia mentioned? There’s a lengthy discussion around her disappearance of it having to do with sunrise and whatnot that you can look into if you like. But what does it mean to me? A strange map that Forrest includes in his latest book, Too Far to Walk. It includes magnetic declinations. Why? Let’s look at the compass. 337 degrees is north-northwest. I can not find what peaked my interest in the movie “North by Northwest” but I have it in my notes somehow from my research before my hunt last year. It came from somewhere, but let’s just focus on the Amelia connection for now.

You still have Google Earth up on another page zoomed in to the Earhart cabin. It’s right there at 43.866008, -109.315741 so it’s no secret. Zoom out. Satellite view. Zoom out so the little legend in the lower right corner of the map shows the scale of 500 feet. Forrest said some searchers passed within 500 feet of the treasure but went right on by. Look north-northwest about 500 feet. That will be about 2 inches on your screen, about 11 o’clock from the Earhart cabin. You see the gigantic “F” in the cliffs, something that a pilot might see as they buzz through the canyon? Yeah. I see it too.

As an aside, to showcase the depths of my research on this topic, I found that on September 3 in 1929 (my birthday as it were; the date not the year) there was the first fatal commercial passenger aircraft crash near Grants, New Mexico. It was in a remote location, and a subsequent search of the area in 2009 found smaller pieces of wreckage as well as some passenger affects, among them a bottle of Vitalis. (Remember the sponsors of the Mr. District Attorney radio show from above?) The company that helped organize and provide the food service for this flight was Fred Harvey, on his way to becoming the hotel magnate. Keen readers will note that Forrest won his precious bracelet in a pool game, the bracelet placed in the Chest, from Fred’s grandson, Byron Harvey.

This was good enough for me. I loaded up my Dodgy Durango (no typo, I’m never sure if my vehicle will reach the destination and return me safely home. It did however convey me safely with no trouble in either direction). I told my wife I was going, and went.

I searched high and low. Below the Home of Brown, above it. Along side it, near it, far from it. I hiked on the trail, off the trail. I slopped through the river, I hiked on the far side. I went up every spring, every feeder rivulet. I tucked my hand in every little cavern, I shone my flashlight under every rock. I climbed every cliff, I trekked up every wash, both dry and running, as far as I could go. I found a few interesting spots where it could have been, perhaps it once was there. But it was not when I looked. I never found the blaze.

I don’t know what to make of this all. I risked the ire of my wife, a deep 5 figure job, thousands of dollars to check this spot again this year. I had been there last year, on the tail end of our Yellowstone trip with the whole family but I did not have the time to look everywhere. I had a year to research and figure exactly where I wanted to look this time. No wife to nag, no kids to distract. I checked every place up there I could possibly imagine. It may still be there, it may have been found. But I am confident that I could not find it. I’m content. If you go there, and find it, God Bless. It’s worth a trip even if you don’t.

 

Picture and Captions

a_Camp

1. This is a view from camp. You see the bear box in the foreground that I used to store my food and cook on the top. Use the bear boxes! I talked to a horseback rider who was there hunting bighorn sheep and he told me that he had seen 11 grizzleys up in the wilderness beyond over the last week, and that one had wandered through camp a couple days before. In late summer and early fall they start eating ravishly to bulk up for hibernation. Carry bear spray and be bear aware.

 

b_FarDowstreamOfKirwinLookingUpstream2. This is the last cabin upstream of the ghost town of Kiwin. I hiked up here because I got rained / snowed / hailed out on my second day. There are a few closed mine shafts along the way, not much to look at. The pics of snow on the ground, in early September, were lost. This is me just stomping around, not part of the Chase. I was wary of hiking too far from camp in the inclement weather.

 

c_FirstViewOfCabinFromTrail

3. On your way past the gate at Camp. As you crest a small hill, you will get your first glimpse of the Earhart Cabin. It’s not the cabin in the pic. The actual cabin was only built four logs high before the effort was abandoned. The cabin you see is a Forest Service cabin. The Earhart cabin is just on the other side of this. It’s really not much to look at. You can find the pics online.

 

d_BlazesFromTheGround

4. Look to the right along this part of the trail. It’s not as apparent from the ground as it would be from the sky. Like from an airplane.

 

e_StreamCrossingTrail

5. This is a small water crossing of a feeder creek to Wood River. Easy to step across without getting your feet wet.

 

f_FromTheBlazeTowardCabin

6. Hike up the small creek and look back toward the Earhart Cabin and this is the view. I searched the nooks and crannies and did not find the Chest.

 

g_CabinAndCharredWood

7. Approach the Cabin. What’s this? The remains of a huge bonfire. I don’t know what to make of this. After some reflection I will guess it is the remains of the Forest Service burning off some leftover clearing woods and brush. It’s just out in the middle of grass. The buck and rail fence around the Earhart Cabin is to the right.

 

h_BrownSquare

8. Just up from the cabin is a curious unlabled brown square on one of the topo maps. I hiked up and around it looking for a mine or some other sign of development. I found little but for a slightly more rocky small patch of less vegetation.

 

i_GrottoOnFirstWash

9. On the way to the Earhart cabin, up one of the washes, I found a small grotto with a curious underhang. I poked around but found nothing in this little cave.

 

j_UpYourCreek

10. Continuing up the first wash, there is a small water fall about 6 feet high. Nothing around here either. I continued up as far as I could without risking my safety, but discovered that the going gets pretty tough pretty quick. Lost of loose skree made getting to the top of these canyons impossible.

 

k_UpYourSecondCreek

11. This is looking up the second dry creek along the way to the Cabin. Again, I went up as far as practicable and found nary a decent hidey hole.

 

l_DownTheMostPromisingWashTowardStructure

12. Upstream of the Earhart Cabin, I chased up dry wash. Another wash meets the Wood River at the same spot on the other side. This is just a bit up this most promising wash, looking down, across the river, to the creek on the other side. As these are all stills from a video camera with no viewfinder, I was unaware of how wide of an angle the camera captured. Just right of dead center, if you can see it, there is some sort of communications tower. It looks seldom used, but in decent repair. You can imagine how my passions were excited when I considered that this might be some sort of relay station for a transponder unit in the Chest, which would alert Forrest if discovered.

 

m_UpTheMostPromisingWash

13. Heading up this most promising wash. Difficult, But Not Impossible; as Forrest once said.

 

n_TheMostPromisingWaterfall

14. The end of the road. I can go no farther up this wash. This is looking straight up, about 100 feet to the top. You can imagine how the water must cascade down this waterfall during a storm. It’s completely dry now.

 

o_TheMostPromisingWashViewDownFromBaseOfWaterfall

15. Turning and looking down from the most promising fall. There are nooks and crannies galore here, but not too many to search. So treasure! Much gold! But none to be found. Six grapefruit sized rocks plummeted from the top and bounced down the side into the grotto at the base of this waterfall during the time I was here searching. I considered that perhaps Forrest meant it was to be the searcher’s bones to be resting with the treasure after being conked on the head from all the loose rocks. I checked all the cracks and crawled up as far as I could fit. I wished I had a hardhat.

TomWhat-