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The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 5, January 31, 2016, Article 34

TREASURE SEARCH TURNS INTO HUNT FOR SEARCHER

Earlier this year we discussed the hunt for the treasure hidden by an author in remote New Mexico mountains. Now one of the treasure-seekers has gone missing, and the search is on to find him. -Editor

Fenn Treasure Chest An antiquities dealer who inspired tens of thousands to search the Rocky Mountains for $2 million in hidden treasure now leads an increasingly desperate mission to find one of his fans.

Forrest Fenn has been flying out in chartered helicopters or planes, searching remote stretches of the upper Rio Grande for any sign of Randy Bilyeu, now missing in the wild for more than three frigid weeks. Fellow treasure hunters also are searching for Bilyeu, who was last seen on Jan. 5 while trying to solve Fenn's mystery.

"Every time we go out and don't find Randy it's discouraging but we're not going to give up," Fenn told The Associated Press. "There are still places out there that I want to look."

Fenn, an eccentric 85-year-old from Santa Fe, has inspired a cult following since his announcement several years ago that he stashed a small bronze chest containing nearly $2 million in gold, jewelry and artifacts somewhere in the Rockies. He dropped clues to its whereabouts in a cryptic poem in his self-published memoir, "The Thrill of the Chase."

The hidden treasure has inspired thousands to search in vain through remote corners of New Mexico, Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere in the mountains. Treasure hunters share their experiences on blogs and brainstorm about the clues. The mystery has been featured by national media, igniting even more interest.

Fenn gets about 120 emails a day from people looking for his 40-pound box, and believes 65,000 people have searched for the stash, some using family vacations to venture into the woods.

"The hope of finding the treasure is one thing, of course, but there's a sense of adventure when you get out in the mountains and in the sunshine and the fresh air," Fenn explained. "One of my motives was to get the kids off the couch and away from the game machine."

But the search can be risky: Some have forded swollen creeks in Yellowstone and were rescued by rangers. A Texas woman spent a worrisome night in the New Mexico woods after being caught in the dark. Others have been cited for digging on public land, and federal managers have warned treasure hunters not to damage archaeological or biological resources.

No "Fenner" has been in a more dangerous a predicament than Bilyeu, a 54-year-old grandfather who moved to Colorado two years ago to follow this dream.

Family and friends say he bought a raft and set out on Jan. 5 after scouting for two weeks along the river west of Santa Fe. He had a GPS device, a wetsuit and waders, and brought along his little white dog, Leo.

More than a week passed before a worried friend reached out to his ex-wife in Florida, Linda Bilyeu, who filed a missing person's report on Jan. 14. His raft and dog were found the next day.

To read the complete article, see: Treasure hunter disappears searching for $2 million in gold (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ff249fc3709146d280b66af5bf03f2c2/treasure-hunter-disappears-searching-2-million-gold)

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: TREASURE SEEKERS SEARCH FOR AUTHOR'S HIDDEN CHEST (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v18n29a41.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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