Forrest Fenn's Treasure - Liberty, Lincoln and the Polar Star

Update: Updated, Jul 3rd 2020

I live in the UK and the first I heard about Forrest Fenn and his treasure was when it was discovered a few weeks back. Since then, infused with the lock-down, it has fascinated me, obsessed me, consumed so much of my time. Why oh why can I not let it go - it's found already!

I've never been to the Rockies but now dearly want to get out there, as my googling and researching, watching videos, getting lost in peoples 'solves' (a really unfortunate term), shamelessly stealing tips and ideas from them, getting excited for them, then for myself, learning things, imagining, seeing all the joy and excitment and life and heart it has brought to so many people. All in all, a great experience, even if I've never set foot in the Rockies.

So this page is really about trying to move on. I'm sure you will enjoy it or getting something from it, if nothing else.

I will work through the poem line by line, leave some things hanging, which I will come back to. Any details will sometimes include context from following or previous lines. My research has been the poem, google earth, google and Dal Neitzel's blog at dalneitzel.com.

I am not at all confident this is a correct solve. It is not even complete. Some of you may laugh at the simplicity or naivety of my meanderings, that is ok.

But I am very confident that, at the very least, you will by very interested in some parts and may very well be convinced to pursue some of the ideas in here.
You may not have very long though, July 4, which definitely resonates with this post, and is only a day or so away now, when there will be an annoucement.
Everything is just my opinion.

You can email me at steven@stevenk.co.uk.

As I have gone alone in there

Who am I?
Obviously, I is ff, and this sounds like a bit like his life statement, Sinatra's "I did it my way". F seemed to fight to live his life how he wanted to, we are all so glad that he did. So one could argue that this is a good opening line to his personal declaration of independence.

And with my treasures bold,

Who else can I be?
Saying the stanza over and over, I kept asking myself this. While doing so, I tried really hard not to chop the poem up ("don't mess with my poem. f.") but I've come to believe that although it shouldnt be messed with initially, until you have something solid to go on or at least hypothesise, you can then mess with it a little and it can well pop up an "aha, I might be on the right track here" moment or two. The trick is to be led to them rather than leading yourself. Alas, confirmation bias may be something I have ended up falling for here anyway!
F said to keep reading the poem, learn it off by heart. By learning it off by heart, you can then 'say' it to yourself, over and over, and listen good. A shakespeare play is not really meant to be read, it is meant to be played, performed, felt, imagined. I think similarly with ff's poem, to get into one's imagination, playing with the sounds, hearing them not as words but as sounds, what else can this mean?
Does this come in here? There is a word "tressures", which is pronounced similarly to "treasures" and it's definition is something along the lines of a raised ornamental border surrounding a central figure on a coin.
Type faces originated on paper and ink and the 'bold' type face was so called because it used more ink, making it thicker, which presumably made it stand a little bolder from the paper. F must surely know the word in his line of business, but it is little used, pertaining more to older coins than the eagles and double-eagles. So the word "bold" just reaffirms the meaning.
     
If f's coins have tressures, it would be the state stars (early coins this was 13, which conveniently placed the central star directly above the head of Liberty).
Almost certainly there are other things to be gleaned from this line, that is one marvelous thing about it, multiple layers with different flavours. I think it is ok to look for words within the sentences, reversals, switching letters for numbers, opposites, 'sounds like's, etc. An obvious one is MT for Montana [1]. Another could be that "My Treasures" is an anagram of "Reuse my star", which made me think of F's silver star or more likely the photo of him fishing for a star, which I'll come back to in what is most likely a truly monumental unconscious (now conscious) bias.

I can keep my secret where,

The I's in this stanza have really bothered me! Also all the other possible commands, such as "As I have gone in there alone". Does this mean should A,S & I be inserted somehow? Perhaps not because it is in the past. How about HOB - should 'in' be inserted somewhere below? Perhaps because it sounds like a command.
One of my favourites is the word "effort", perhaps meaning one of the following:


I tried to replace I's with F's for Forrest. Maybe I should have tried L's for Liberty ... ahhh!
Perhaps the key (Liberty? Star? Crown?) is meant to unlock these somehow?
Are we looking for a big "W", as in "I can keep my secret W here" (reminiscent of the film "its a mad, mad, mad, mad world")
But in the end by saying it, I only got "secret wear", in the sense of "evening wear". What is liberty's secret wear? She is wearing a crown! Following this I had a truly amazing discovery related to a crown and the Blaze star (yes, there is a Blaze Star), but I just hit a dead end with it. [2]

And hint of riches new and old.

Why are there 265 gold coins? Day 265 of the year is Sep 22, and the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is on or within one day of this, marking the end of summer, you know, when warm waters end. But also when the earth angle with the sun flips over [5]

Stanza 1 Summary: Liberty, Lincoln, Polar Star, Sun, Coin, Torch, Crown

I, Lady Liberty, stand alone in the middle of a coin (of most of these 265 coins), wearing my crown and with (a canopy of) state stars above my head.
I have my treasures old, a torch of enlightenment and an olive branch of peace, and new, my treasure.
F's autobiography is in an olive jar and he says to take a Torch and a sandwich.
I am a symbol for liberty and so is the declaration of independence.
I am Liberty-in-a-coin >>> "L-in-coln" >>> Lincoln
Who is this Lincoln fellow?
Abraham Lincoln amended the declaration of independence to move toward abolishing slavery and "honesty was his polar star". [3]
but ... there was also ...
Lincoln Ellsworth, an American pilot who explored the Antarctic in his plane, the "Polar Star". [3]
"Treasure" is an anagram of "Star" and "Suree". Suree means Sun

Begin it where warm waters halt

Again, by saying it, "where warm waters salt". Where are warm waters, trout waters, salty?
Some river in Liberty? Liberty County looks just too void of mountains with enough spleandour for F. Sorry Liberty, but you have a lot to compete against!
Another obvious word for Liberty is Freedom.
There happens to be a town of that name right on the eastern border of WY, in the Star Valley.
The Salt river, which is named because of salt deposits that collect downstream, runs through Freedom.
This seems to make ridiculous sense, but far too easy, too naive, too obvious? Does everyone go through this torture, excitement, only to have their hopes dashed!
Another point for later, 'where' can also mean 'when', as in "flowers blossom where winter fades" (rubbish example)
So warm waters start and end during the warmer months, or more specifically, from the spring equinox to the autumnal equinox. More on this later.

Take it in the Canyon down,

From here it becomes flakier. It must be too simple, surely.
I'm going with south for down, which is upstream toward the source, presumably before the waters salt. Go by boat, bike, car, or walk if you like, it doesnt matter. Car's probably best.

Not far, but too far to walk.

Now the first five letters of this line in reverse are "afton", the "r" for "reversed".
Afton is a town approximately 16 miles south of Freedom.
"too far to" is 2 x 4 x 2 = 16 (throw me a frickin bone here)

Put in below the home of Brown.

Auburn is a small town on the way to Afton from Freedom.
Auburn is a member of the brown color family. Or should that be red? Ok, I told you it was getting flaky. But if the town was called Pink instead of Auburn, my unconscious bias would really have to work hard.
Ok, how about Elk. Arriving by car in Afton you will likely drive below the Elk Arch, an arch across the road made of Elk horns. Although I couldnt find any details, it seems Afton is proud of it's (brown) Elk connections.

Stanza 2 Summary: Afton, WY

We are in Afton, WY, during the warmer months. The Salt River Mountain range loom large to our east.

From there, it's no place for the meek,

I tried splitting this up, like this:
From the R(oad) E(ast), it's no place for them eek
How I want that last E to be an L. Can Liberty help me? Perhaps, but I've not worked it out
The line does include "Take the Forest R E from here" (leaving letters "mincpole" or "mincpolee" (policemen) if we remove the E).
The Forest Road east is 10211, but I couldnt make a connection here either.
Just hanging on here by my fingernails.

The end is ever drawing nigh;

So I'm travelling up the Forest Road as far as I can and parking.
The end of driving, the end of the day into night, or the end of the search.

There'll be no paddle up your creek,

Ok, there is a creek a little further south of Afton, going east, called Dry Creek, which screams "me", but I'm sticking with Forest Road, leading to Swift Creek and the Swift Creek Canyon.
Paddle and Swift somehow? Its all getting a bit tenuous now.
Further south is another eastern road leading to Cottonwood Creek Lake and Google Earth photos up there look lovely. I also remember someone writing about Cottonwood tree blossom being like stars.

Just heavy loads and water high.

From the put-in, hike the one mile to the Periodic Spring. This is a spring that during summer months, stops and starts every fifteen or so minutes, all by nature. Incredible really. Water from the mountains above enters a large hidden chamber, which fills up, eventually reaching an escape channel near the top. When this is fully loaded, it creates a syphon and draws the high water, stopping again when air gets in and breaks the syphon. [4]
I have a feeling we should be above the water, which I think is hikable from the water flow start point lower down. Agreed, this is not precise and it might need to be, although it might be accurate enough at this point.
So the night stars ever draw left around the polar star
The periodic spring ever draws water
What else ever draws nigh? Night. Into day, with the Sun.
Approximate Coordinates: LAT 42.756027°, LNG -110.839990°

Stanza 3 Summary: Periodic Spring, WY

We are above the Periodic Spring, before sun up, a sandwich for breakfast, probably cold, a bit scary, gazing at the Polar Star.
It is easy to find, it is north, the one not moving and with all the other stars circling it, like a tressured coin.

If you've been wise and found the blaze,

Wise obviously in terms of the three wise men following the star? Technically they didnt follow the north star, but we are, end of discussion!
Is the blaze a Y?
Is the blaze a W, as in "I can keep my secret W here"? (ha ha, the big double-you
"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise"

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

"To cease" is "two C's". I noticed on Google Earth that the hill opposite has two C shapes on it, not facing in a typical C direction, but clear enough C shapes. They are right at the top of the crest.
Another word for crest is "cuesta", which is "a crest with a gentle slope (dip) on one side and a steep slope (scarp) on the other", which matches too.
During daylight, there is also some very large looking Y shape, but at this point, it could be nothing.


The view north


A "Y", "two C's" and a cuesta?

As sun comes up, pay great attention below the Polar Star (or nearly below the Polar Star, adjusted for true/magnetic north (I knew those declination lines meant something, just a subtle hint)
It will slowly light up the marvelous gaze in front of you (I hope)

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Be prepared for an amazing illumination (enlightenment), but do not gawp, pay really close attention to the light and the shadows
... or ... you could just record it with your phone or camera.
I would love to see this. If it looks as amazing as I imagine, I wouldnt care about the treasure.
I'm stuck with Google Earth, which does let you simulate the lighting through the whole year, and from minute to minute, which is very different in June, than, say December, [see 7]
During my Google Earth experiments, this seems to be the case, but I cannot be sure, it was driving me crazy in the end.
In a nutshell, during this summer, the lighting every morning lights a hill below the polar star in a way I found exciting. I will try to describe it, but it may all be alchemical unconscious nonsense in my mind.
The plane of the hillside below the Polar Star illuminates slightly, then darkens again (is this just Google Earth glitch or natural, I can't be sure).
Then it begins to illuminate again slowly, starting from the base, upwards, in a long straight gully or outcrop, it then spreads across to the left, maybe forming the upper part of a huge Y.
Does it look a bit like a man, with a hat on, holding a fish on a pole?
The last bit left in the shadows before illuminating, seems to be in a star shape, quite central, where the heart would be?
Again, this all may just be the pixelation in Google Earth and/or my eager mind
I'd say the whole spectacle is likely to take an hour or so long, maybe a bit longer.

Finally, the line screams anagram and we've earned a bit of messing:

Thats enough of that, I suddenly feel a bit down. Just my own projections.

Just take the chest and go in peace.

Nah, I got nothing! Of course, you've got to get over there. But where precisely?
It is quite a trek over there, maybe 30 minutes. You could just go and look, using your video footage as reference. Pretty sure stanzas 5 and 6 give a precise location, somehow, maybe this or earlier stanzas. Perhaps like some have said, a second layer to the poem defines the precise spot.
I dont get the feeling this hillside is a much trekked place, which is promising. But is it beautiful enough for Fenn?

Stanza 4 Summary: nearly there

we have watched the sunrise and our making our way over to the northern hillside

So why is it that I must go

and leave my trove for all to seek?

The answer I already know,

I've done it tired, and now I'm weak.

Stanza 5 Summary

specifics, work in progress

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood,

I give you title to the gold

Stanza 6 Summary

specifics, work in progress

Other Points and References

[1] North Star Mt. and Lincoln Mt.

North Star Mt. and Lincoln Mt. are in MO and close to eachother and are/were my next port of call. This was the place to start, kind of kicking myself now.

[2] A Blaze Star! An exciting dead end.

Thinking about the concept of thinking like a child, what would a child answer to warm waters halt?
Probably a basin, or bath, or teacup. That got me thinking about basin.
Corona Borealis is a northern sky constellation. Its seven brightest stars form a semicircular arc (basin shape? drawing nigh? canopy of stars?) and the constallation is known as the "northern crown", latin, inspired by its shape.
Other cultures likened the pattern to a circle of elders (ok), an eagle's nest (interested), or a bear's den (oh my god!!! home of Brown? You can see why I was interested).
Although a basin shape (or upside down crown?), Corona Borealis might appear in the sky tilted anti-clockwise from that, in between a basin and a reverse-C.
The brightest star in the crown formation is Alpha Coronae Borealis, or Alphecca. Alpha Coronae Borealis was mentioned in Star Trek.

The constellation star which sticks out though, is a star that cannot be seen with the naked eye and does not sit on the crown. Its full name is T Coronae Borealis (TCB) and is below and to the left of the 'bottom' of the basin). It is better known as the Blaze Star (k-ching!). I've not been able to find this reference anywhere via google, but it might exist somewhere, let me know.

The blaze star is an unusual type of variable star known as a recurrent (ever drawing?) nova. Normally of magnitude 10 (telescope required), it flared up on May 12, 1866, to be brighter than the brightest star in the constellation, Alphecca, for one night only. 80 years later, Feb 9, 1946, it blazed again. So the next time may be something like 2026. One could say it is periodic like the periodic spring, but instead of 18 minutes it is 80 years! TCB is 2600 light years away from our sun. Alphecca is (only) 75 light years, which means TCB increased from 50 times brighter than our sun to 200,000 times brighter 'overnight'. In something like 2026, we might be able to see it again, for one night only.
TCB is actually two stars, a giant red star with a blue-white dwarf companion.
The 7 main stars in the crown are, from top left to top right:
I(ota),E(psilon),D(elta),G(amma),(A)lpha (Alphecca),(B)eta (Nusaken),T(heta) I E D G A B T

Using Stellarium, T Coronae Borealis (T CrB) position: Galactic Longitude 42 22' 25.7" Galactic Latitude 48 09' 52.9" Celestial Right Ascension J2000 15h59m30.17s (~lng) Celestial Declination J2000 +25 55' 12.6" (~lat) But alas, I could get not further than this. I wonder if Fenn even knows!

[3] Associations of the word "Lincoln" to Polar Star

Lincoln Ellsworth, 1880-1951, was an American polar explorer who flew successfully in the antarctic in his Northrop Gamma plane for 14 hours, which was named "Polar Star".
The plane can be seen in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
It has an emblem on the side, a star inside a circle. Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Ellsworth
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_Star_(airplane)

Abraham Lincoln and Polar Star
"Lincoln loved truth for its own sake. He had a deep, true, living conscience; honesty was his polar star."
Ref: "Abraham Lincoln" by George Putnam

"He was rightfully entitled to the appellation 'Honest Abe'. Honesty was his polar star"
Ref:"Delphi Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln" by Abraham Lincoln

"Abraham Lincoln's polar star and guiding principles were those found embodied in the Declaration of Independence."
Ref: Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, 1991

[4] Periodic Spring, WY

Ref: Intermittent Spring Wyoming

[5] Autumnal Equinox

Forgive me if this is not precise, but here goes
On two days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox, the plane of the earth's equator passes through the center of the sun. After the Autumnal Equinox, this plane flips over to the other side of the sun center, which can change illumination and shadows slightly, or significantly and dramatically when terrain, such as rocky outcrops or valleys, are at a specific angle at sunrise/sunset. We all know of suddenly being blinded by the sun in the morning at certain times of the year.
On this day, the sun is exactly above the equator. Also, either of the two points in the sky where the 'ecliptic' (defined as the Sun’s annual path from earths perspective) and the 'celestial equator' (earth equator's plane projected out into space, onto the sky) intersect. These points of intersection are represented by Omega (out from north pole) and Alpha (out from south pole)

[6] Saint-Gaudens double eagle coin

Liberty strides across a rocky outcrop, rays of sun behind her, surrounded by 46 stars (46 states in 1907)
The reverse is a side view of a flying eagle, seen slightly from below, with a rising Sun and its rays behind it, complementing the obverse design. The edge bears the lettering "E Pluribus Unum"
ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Gaudens_double_eagle