Episode 273 – The One Where We Join Jenn’s Quest For Curly-Shea’s Gold!

In This Week’s Show, episode 273, we go questing for lost hosts and dig up a big’ol treasure chest of Jenn… chest joke.

In This Week’s Show, episode 273, we go questing for lost hosts and dig up a big’ol treasure chest of Jenn… chest joke.

Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Khrysos, Greek god of gold, hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying his patience!

Shea’s Life Lesson

This week I learned that the best way to deal with the Corona virus is Lyme disease and some salt.

Jenn’s Actual Lesson

Did you know that there is more steel created per hour than there has been gold dug up throughout history?

But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!

This Week’s Beer

Maple Pecan Brown Ale by Brickway Brewery Omaha, NE

Donated By: Brendon

  • BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/33943/254786/
  • BA Rating: 3.83
  • Style: American Brown Ale
  • ABV:  5%
  • Aaron: 8
  • Jenn: 7
  • Shea: 5
  • Steve: 3

This Week’s Show

Round Table

Love and wishes for a speedy recovery to Jim

  • https://twitter.com/biggayjim

Happy upcoming 100 episodes for Ginger Snaps!

  • https://www.facebook.com/thegingersnapspodcast/
  • https://twitter.com/Gingerspod

Thanks to Mr. Biblepants!

Patreon Story

Beale’s treasure

The story goes, back in 1820 Thomas J. Beale made his way to sleepy little Bedford County, Virginia where he stayed at a small inn called Buford’s Tavern but before he disappeared he intrusted a small box to Robert Morriss, the innkeeper. According to the story, the innkeeper, finally, opened the box 23 years later and found three encrypted messages. Robert spent decades trying to solve the blocks of numbers but no no avail. Before his death, Robert entrusted the ciphers with a close friend who then spent 20 years of his life trying to solve them, eventually solving only the second message and learning what the first message will lead you to…

“I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford’s, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number three, herewith:

The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made Dec. eighteen twenty-one, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange to save transportation, and valued at thirteen thousand dollars.

The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.”

This equals 2921 pounds of gold, 5100 pounds of silver, and $1.5 million of precious jewels—together valued at approximately $60 million.

The backstory of Beale’s treasure has been re-hashed countless times: Beale was a 19th century adventurer who supposedly discovered gold and silver on a hunting trip near the modern New Mexico-Colorado border. He lugged the riches home to Virginia and buried them, reportedly concealing the details—the location, contents, and heirs of the treasure.

This message was solved using a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence. To decrypt it, one finds the word corresponding to the number (e.g., the first number is 115, and the 115th word in the Declaration of Independence is “instituted”), and takes the first letter of that word (in the case of the example, “I”). Beale used a slightly different version of the declaration of independence so a few modifications were needed to extract the message.

With his appetite whetted and his greed boiling inside of him but out of ideas, Roberts unnamed friend decided to publish the three ciphers in a pamphlet which was advertised for sale in the 1885 entitled The Beale Papers, which was published by yet another friend, James B. Ward. It is these papers that we have our only conclusive proof of the treasure, as this was actually published.

Our story doesn’t stop here, if anything it ignited the curiosity and imagination of many people looking to strike it rich and live a life of ease. One of those souls was a man named Clayton Hart, who after failing to decipher the code enlisted the help of a medium. The medium gazed into the crystal ball and looked deeply into the past. Inside the mysterious orb, the year was 1819, and the scene was about to become blindingly bright. The medium claimed he could see into the upper bedroom of Paschal Buford’s tavern, the old Inn in Bedford Co., Virginia. The room was dark. Shades blanketed the windows and a wad of paper was plugged into the door’s keyhole. Inside, a lone frontiersman, Thomas J. Beale, eyed a pair of saddlebags resting on the bed. Gently, he opened them. Light burst through the room. The medium shielded his eyes and shrieked.

“Jewels, by gosh! Diamonds! Rubies! Pearls! Emeralds!!”

Clayton Hart watched the medium with jittery anticipation. Clayton’s brother George, a skeptic, stood nearby in silence. Both had been looking for the treasure for years and this was a last ditch attempt in divining its location. Lucky for them, the medium claimed to see the pioneer’s every move: Beale had arrived at Buford’s tavern on horseback with a rifle resting on his lap, a pair of pistols on each hip, and two jewel-filled bags slung from his saddle. Five covered wagons followed him, some hauling iron pots of gold and silver. After resting at Buford’s, Beale and his men buried that gold, silver, and jewels deep in the Virginia woods, approximately four miles from the tavern.

As the medium described its location, Clayton clung to every syllable.

Months later, under the cover of nightfall, Clayton and George steered a buggy full of shovels, ropes, and lanterns into Bedford Co. Joining them—reluctantly—was their trusty medium. Clayton hypnotized the mystic, who led the brothers up Goose Creek, over a fence, and across a burbling stream to a slumped depression in the earth.

The medium pointed to the dirt. “There’s the treasure!” he said. “Can’t you see it?”

Guided by lanterns, the brothers dug. Hours passed. The hole deepened and the sky reddened. Clayton thrust his pick into the red, iron-rich dirt and heard a hollow thud. The brothers exchanged glances. Clayton dug frantically. When a large rock emerged, the brothers excitedly flipped it over. Nothing was below it.

The medium (who had refused to help all night, opting instead to lounge on a bed of dead leaves) was re-hypnotized and told to explain himself. He pointed to the roots of an oak tree just feet away and exclaimed: “There it is! You got over too far! Can’t you see it?”

A week later, Clayton returned to that same spot with dynamite. The sky rained dirt, pebbles, and the splintered remains of that old oak tree—but no gold.

Later in life, sceptic brother, George Hart would go on to write of their failed search in the Hart Papers he later published. And thus endeth a weird and almost unbelievable story. For now…

Jenn’s Story

If you’ve been with us for a while, you may recall episode 143 (or not…no biggie; the boys sure won’t). It was the one where I discussed a couple of the National Parks I lived in (or all three if you were a patron), and a few stories on how people have met their demise. You may also recall that Wyoming-local Yellowstone National Park is my very favorite place in the world. Today’s story is something of a continuation, with a story from Yellowstone and a whole new type of dangerous-stupid.

  • https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/climber-rescued-cited-in-yellowstone/article_ff954218-7449-5715-8435-fc4ba285e0ee.html
  • https://www.chicagotribune.com/midwest/ct-climber-rescued-yellowstone-20200119-7shfrxtdbbhgfmqkbrsu2dsfdu-story.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenn_treasure
  • https://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/man-rescued-from-yellowstone-canyon-was-treasure-seeker/article_671b6949-e02f-5fa2-b26d-526c16317df2.html
  • https://www.vox.com/a/fenn-treasure-hunt-map
  • https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2017/06/20/police-implore-author-who-says-he-hid-treasure-end-hunt/413849001/
  • https://www.npr.org/2016/03/13/469852983/seeking-adventure-and-gold-crack-this-poem-and-head-outdoors
  • https://allthatsinteresting.com/forrest-fenn-treasure
  • https://www.westword.com/news/forrest-fenn-treasure-deaths-victims-ex-wife-says-six-have-died-10019518

This story is actually somewhat timely, so that’s a change from my more recent catalog. But don’t worry, there will be at least a little weird. So let’s start at the timely part of the story!

January 6th of this year, YNP rangers were called to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to haul 55 yr old Dave Christiansen up after he had gotten himself stuck several hundred feet into a 1200ft crevasse. Considering how the Park is closed to all but snowmobiles and the occasional snow coach this time of year, and the Canyon is all kinds of snowed and iced over, it seemed some epic-levels of poor decision-making much have been involved. Well, turns out that much was true, but not exactly in the way I thought when I first saw the story.

So, Christiansen was not just goofing off around the edge of the Canyon and accidentally fell in, as is the general scenario. (Which would have probably resulted in his death; not very people many survive that sadly all-too-common accident.) Nope, the Winnepec, IN man had gone down into the Canyon ON PURPOSE. He’d at least done it somewhat reasonably–he rappelled down with ropes, had another person at the top of the Canyon with a radio (who is how the rangers knew to respond), so a half point there. He became stuck because he dropped his pack of supplies, unhooked himself from his rope, slipped further into the canyon and couldn’t get back to the rope.So he radios bumbling idiot number two at the top, and after about 2 hours of “are you sure you’re stuck?”, the rangers are contacted. (Having known a lot of NPS rangers, many in Yellowstone, there is nothing they enjoy more than rope climbing into a sheer and frozen canyon to haul some trapped moron up to safety, risking their own lives and the lives of their coworkers.) After a few hours of very dangerous work, the 11 search and rescue workers were able to get Christiansen up to safety, in the dark and amid snow flurries and well below freezing temps. The actual recovery involved lowering a very experienced climber about 800 feet down. (Christiansen now disputes the rescue itself and says he could have climbed out on his own but “they wouldn’t authorize more rope”.)

I believe the rangers also hurt his feelings. From the Casper Tribune: “They were yelling at me, asking ‘what are you doing down there’ and I wasn’t going to take the chance of pissing something off so I got out of there,” he said.

Onlookers and park personnel couldn’t believe their eyes.

“He was like a turtle on his back in that heavy snow,” said Gary Fales, owner of Gary Fales Outfitting and Snowmobile Tours in Wapiti, which had rented the sled to Christensen with no knowledge of his plans. “This guy was lucky he didn’t die.

For his efforts, Christiansen has received a few criminal charges: he is being cited for disorderly conduct, creating hazardous conditions and going off a designated trail. He has a court date scheduled for February 3rd.

So that is pretty much where we are at for Mr. David Christiansen. However, one may ask, what in the world was he DOING? Well, he was hunting treasure. And not some years removed, Lost Dutchman Mine kinda treasure. No, this one has very recent roots, and in my own humble opinion, even more questionable veracity, Yes, Christiansen is the latest of accident prone individuals to risk life and limb in the hunt for Fenn’s Fortune.

The what? Yes, Fenn’s Fortune is the derpy brainchild of Forrest Fenn, an 80-something retired US Air Force pilot, owner/curator of Fenn’s Gallery, bane of Federal antiquities laws and an immensely goofy looking character.

Treasure Chest
Supposedly actual picture of the supposedly actual chest.

In 1988 he was diagnosed with cancer that he apparently believed was terminal and decided to create a country-sized treasure hunt to leave as his legacy. According to himself, Fenn planned to haul the treasure into the mountains and die beside it, but he miraculously beat cancer and the treasure sat untouched in a vault in his home Well, fast forward to 2010, he’s still kicking, and self-publishes his memoir ‘The Thrill of the Hunt’, a collection of short stories, one of which includes a poem of clues detailing where to find his box o’ goodies (complete with a copy of his autobiography). Per wikipedia, “He describes a treasure chest that he says contains gold nuggets, rare coins, jewelry, and gemstones, and he says that it was hidden “in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe”. The chest itself is an ornate, Romanesque box is 10-by-10 inches and supposedly weighs about 40 pounds when loaded.

I’ve seen the value estimated from $1million to $5million, so who’s to say? In 2018, Fenn claimed that over 300,000 people have attempted to locate this totally real thing (or over 65,000, depending on the source). He also says he receives over 100 emails daily (mostly from older men, ha) looking for more clues, offering bribes and even death threats. He also has law enforcement from several states begging him to put an end to these shenanigans. Why would they care? Well, Mr. David Christiansen is faaaar from the only treasure-hunter needing rescuing…oh and 4 confirmed, probably 6, and who knows how many random people who have died trying.

From wikipedia:

  • Randy Bilyeu went missing in January 2016 and was found dead in July. His body was discovered by workers along the Rio Grande, and an autopsy could not determine cause of death.Bilyeu’s ex-wife has publicly stated her belief that the Fenn Treasure is a hoax.
  • Jeff Murphy (53) of Batavia, Illinois was found dead in Yellowstone National Park on June 9, 2017 after falling about 500 feet down a steep slope. Yellowstone officials did provide details to the public concerning their investigation, but KULR-TV filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The television station reports that Murphy’s wife told park authorities that he was looking for the treasure when she first reported him missing.
  • Pastor Paris Wallace of Grand Junction, Colorado told family members that he was searching for a buried treasure, but he failed to show up for a planned family meeting on June 14, 2017. His car was found parked near the Taos Junction Bridge and his body was found dead 5 to 7 miles (8–11 km) downstream along the Rio Grande.
  • Eric Ashby (31) was found dead in Colorado’s Arkansas River on July 28, 2017. Friends and family state that he had moved to Colorado in 2016 to look for the treasure, and was last seen on June 28 rafting on the river 10 to 15 miles (15–25 km) upstream from where his body was found. The raft overturned, and Ashby had been missing since that time

(Fenn’s response to LE nicely asking to please stop this shit was lacking. After the death of Pastor Paris in Rio Grande Gorge and the NMPD’s appeal Fenn released this statement: “If someone thinks the treasure is hidden in a dangerous location, they should not search for it. There is no percentage in taking risks.” He then released a few more clues saying “the treasure chest is not under water, nor is it near the Rio Grande River. It is not necessary to move large rocks or climb up or down a steep precipice.” Thanks, Forrest.)

As an aside, you can find the poem online, so no need to give Fenn anymore money or credit. In fact if you’re interested, it’s in the vox.com article I’ve linked in the show notes. I’m not going to read any of it because this nonsense has gone on long enough.

So anyways, in addition to the aforementioned deaths, Yellowstone has also had to deal with the Rocky & Bullwinkle-type exploits of a Virginia couple. From the Casper Star Tribune:

Madilina L. Taylor and boyfriend Frank E. Rose Jr., had to receive assistance from search and rescue crews in 2013, 2015 and 2016 after trying to find Fenn’s fortune in the Wapiti area and Shoshone National Forest. Those misadventures included Taylor breaking her ankle in 2015, which required her to be airlifted to a hospital. After another trip in July 2016 resulted in encounters with grizzly bears, Taylor reportedly told the sheriff’s office that “she was headed back East with no intentions of ever returning.

So back to Christiansen, he of the most recent near-miss and apparently deciding the clue about not needing to “climb up and down steep precipices” was superfluous, according to him he should be the hero of this entire tale. “I had to do this. The story has to end,” he said. “Too many people are getting hurt and killed.”

From the Casper Star Tribune: “However, (Christainsen) says his attempt was to save others who may be injured or perish in attempts to discover the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” He sought to make that case in an email to Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly following the incident, laying out why he believes Fenn’s gold is in the canyon.

“I am not a quack, nor have blind lust for hidden treasures,” Christensen wrote. “I’m sending this so you can analyze the information, hopefully understand its validity, and thus, potentially circumvent a ‘Mad Mad World’ or ‘Rat Race’ of searchers in the near future, or spring when Yellowstone opens to wheeled vehicles.”

Bold words. But he is also the one saying he didn’t actually need rescueing, sooo… Terry Dowling, an experienced over-snow guide, took pictures of of Christensen while he was “flailing” in the deep snow, which I would love to see. But it was through those pics that several local guides and outfitters realized what he was up to and have sinced banned renting him any equipment, because you can’t insure that kind of silly.

It appears that a ban will most probably be in his future, but he is not deterred.

“If they ban me for five years, I’ll just have to wait to find the treasure,” he said. “I could have eventually climbed my way out. There wouldn’t have been any need for a rescue if they would have authorized more line. Either way, I know my actions have consequences.”

Since I know of people who have had lifetime bans for harassing bison or driving too fast (like really, really fast, but still), he may want to readjust his expectations. But as he’s been willing to risk his very life on the self-published, self aggrandizing ramblings of this guy, well, I think he is a lost cause.

Next Week’s Beer

Even More Jesus from Evil Twin Brewing Stratford, CT

  • Donated By:Steve E.
  • BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/24300/81067/
  • BA Rating: 4.31
  • Style: Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 12%

Happy Ending


Florida’s Bradenton’s Motorworks craft brewery is printing photographs on its beer cans of dogs who are up for adoption


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