The Treasure Hunt Is Over. Long Live the Treasure Hunt

'Popular Mechanics' looks at the never-ending Forrest Fenn hunt
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2023 10:10 AM CDT
The Treasure Hunt Is Over. Some Can't Stop Hunting
This undated photo from the late Forrest Fenn shows his treasure chest.   (AP Photo/Addison Doty)

The thing about treasure hunts is that they end when the treasure is found. Or at least they're supposed to. But in the case of the famous Forrest Fenn treasure, that hasn't quite happened. As Svati Kirsten Narula explains in a deep dive at Popular Mechanics, many obsessed with what one psychology professor calls the greatest treasure hunt in US history are still looking—for different, complex reasons. Some think the treasure wasn't actually found and is still out there; others believe it was found but are looking for a different kind of closure: Jack Stuef, who discovered the chest in 2020, as verified by Fenn himself before his death, has not revealed where he did so and says he never will. The lack of an answer is maddening for some who spent years parsing Fenn's cryptic clues.

“I am still looking. I know this sounds like I am delusional,” one hunter (of the it's-still-out-there camp) tells Narula. The story traces the fascinating background of the buried chest, along with the tragic outcomes for some hunters and the byzantine conspiracy theories (some say Stuef and Fenn were in cahoots, for example) and lawsuits in play today. For some, the riddle has morphed into a hunt not so much for where Fenn hid his chest but where Stuef looked for it, complete with Freedom of Information requests regarding the emails of Yellowstone rangers. It's possible some closure might come from the late Fenn himself: Rumor has it that his unpublished autobiography was among the items Stuef has sold privately, and some hunters think it will surface and reveal all. Read the full story. (Or read other longform stories.)

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