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by: Reed Randall

The Hidden Treasures of Forrest Fenn

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    The Hidden Treasures of Forrest Fenn is an African American history book, based off a national treasure hunt that lured thousands of people into the mountains with hopes of finding a treasure chest with gold coins and precious jewels.

     For nearly a decade, treasure hunters and news journalist across the world believed a retired art dealer and author hid a treasure chest in the Rocky Mountains by a retired art dealer and author, named Forrest Fenn. Little did they know, he never hid a treasure chest for anyone to find. 

     In 2010, Forrest Fenn self-published his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase and included a poem containing nine clues to where his treasures were hidden. The nine clues were stories about African Americans and their struggles to obtain equal and civil rights in America.

     The nine clues along with many other stories told in the author's memoir were hints to the real treasures this country has forgotten, like Charles Young (9th Calvary aka Buffalo Soldiers), Carlotta Walls Lanier (The Little Rock Nine), and Bob Marley from Nine Mile, Jamaica. 

     Treasure hunters overlooked other stories the author told as possible hints and did not dig deeper into the clues he presented, like George Washington, Frank Robinson, the Lincoln Memorial, the Home of Brown, and Ora Mae.  

The Hidden Treasures of Forrest Fenn

     The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir by Forrest Fenn was published in 2010 as the introduction to one of the greatest treasure hunts in America. People from around the world heard stories about a hidden treasure in the Rocky Mountains but did not believe the author hid a treasure chest filled with gold coins and precious jewels.

      For nearly a decade, treasure hunters assumed the author's poem and a good map were all they needed to find the gold and did not read his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase. The few treasure hunters who read his book, overlooked the many treasures hidden throughout those pages, which included their names and their stories.

     This is why the author titled his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, because everyone assumed the treasures were gold coins and precious jewels, and overlooked the people in history that were once considered treasures.

The Thrill of the Chase

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     Fenn's Bells was published shortly after Forrest Fenn announced his treasures had been discovered by a man that he did not know. While many treasure hunters were searching for the treasure chest, I discovered the truth about the author's bells.

 

     The bells were not real objects that could be held or touched by hand, they were hints that told the story and gave directions to the location where the author was keeping his secrets. The bells were a part of the author's imagination that gave directions to a small town in Colorado, called Maybell, where the author hinted to burying several of his bells.

 

     The bells were also hints to several people mentioned inside the author's memoir, such as the school janitor, Ora Mae. Her name is Ora Mae Belle Washington, and she is considered to be one of the greatest athletes in the history. 

 

     Unfortunately, Ora Mae did not receive the recognition she deserved during her lifetime, but her name and her story will never be forgotten again. Ora "Maybell" Washington is where the author's poem led and the location where his secrets were discovered.​

Fenn's Bells

I Know Your Secret

       No one knew the author was keeping a secret about his treasures and gold, hidden in the Rocky Mountains for nearly a decade. The 20-pound treasure chest and the 22 pounds of gold, which totaled 42 pounds, were only riddles that led to the real treasures that were discovered. 

    Treasure hunters, who read his memoir, overlooked their names as possible hints and assumed his stories were real, such as being a general's aid to Major General Frank Robinson, surviving Cancer with only a 20% chance to live, and writing his 20,000-word autobiography. These were only stories that he told, hoping someone would recognize the major league baseball, no. 20 Frank Robinson. 

     Frank Robinson, along with John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil Jr. and Jackie Robinson, were three of the first African Americans in baseball's history to manage, coach, and play in major league baseball after integration. No. 20 Frank Robinson, no. 22 John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil Jr., and no. 42 Jackie Robinson are still treasures in major league baseball. Not only were they great athletes, but they opened doors for others like them, such as Darryl Strawberry, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, and David Gene Parker, nicknamed "The Cobra".

 

     Inside the author's imaginary treasure chest were rubies, emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, turquoise, silver, and gold. These precious jewels were hints to the women in history whose efforts have changed how this country is today, like Ruby Bridges, Emerald McKenzie, Mary "Diamond Teeth" McClain, and Romona "Sapphire" Lofton.

     Each and every one of them fought to pursue their dreams in a country that believed in slavery, discrimination, and segregation. Their efforts combined, created the author's treasure chest that lured thousands of people into the mountains with hopes of finding gold coins and precious jewels.

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