Solutions


  This wiki offers partial solutions for the 2 casques that have been found:

 

 

Image 4, Verse 4: Cleveland

Status: Found

 

  The shape of Ohio (with rivers) is hidden in the image.  Several of the clues that would presumably get us to Cleveland are still unsolved, but the visual references to the Greek Cultural Garden are very clear and unambiguous.  Lines in the verse pin down the exact place to dig inside the neglected planter bed shown in the image.  Visual images in this puzzle seem more realistic and true-to-life than in the other 11 images, possibly because the artist saw the spot in person rather than working from photographs.

 

 

Image 5, Verse 12: Chicago

Status: Found

 

  The outline of Illinois and a few well-known landmarks get us to Chicago.  An image of a bowman and a reference to "L" (Lincoln) get us to Grant Park.  Two intersecting lines of trees pinpoint the spot and a distinctive fence feature provides the confirmation.

 

 

 

 

  This wiki also currently offers detailed (but unproven) solutions for 8 more casques.  None of these proposals can be considered definitive or correct unless a casque is found.  Unfortunately, in at least a few cases (Charleston and New Orleans), the casques appear to have been destroyed.  But in other cases (San Francisco, St. Augustine, and Houston) there still seems to be a good chance of recovery, if a dig is done the right way with the full permission and cooperation of the relevant property owners.

 

 

Image 1, Verse 7: San Francisco

Status: Buried under a layer of asphalt

 

  This is the image associated with immigration from China.  The woman's dress is a map of Golden Gate Park, rotated 90 degrees so the western edge is at the top.  Clues from the image and verse narrow our attention to a small slice of the park directly east of the elevated Highway 1 (Crossover Drive).  After leading us on a stroll through the park, the puzzle brings us to a long staircase that has a handrail (or pole) going up the middle.  The casque was buried directly across from the top end of the pole.

 

 

Image 2, Verse 6: Charleston

Status: Destroyed when the Maine capstan monument was replaced

 

  The shapes of Fort Sumter and the Charleston peninsula send us to the correct area (from the image).  Historical references confirm the city and direct us to a historical area (from the verse).  A line about "two arms extended" (verse) is ambiguous, but black circles with white dots (image) tells us that the arms are cannons.  A line about "May 1913" (verse) sends us to the capstan from the USS Maine.  References to palms (both image and verse) tell us to dig where the shadow of a nearby palm tree would be positioned at the base of that monument.

 

 

Image 3, Verse 11: Roanoke Island

Status: Unclear

 

  Detailed steps (from the verse) take us from the Outer Banks of North Carolina over a bridge to Roanoke Island.  An outline of the island (from the image) confirms that we are in the right place.  A series of instructions (verse) takes us down the path to the Waterside Theatre.  A tower made of hollow metal pipes is a symbolic match for the suit of armor (image) and it has symbolism in the play as the tree last touched by the colonists (verse).  The casque was buried in the sand at the base of the tower at a spot where one could look across to the wing of the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

 

 

Image 6, Verse 9: St. Augustine

Status: Underneath a volunteer cabbage palm on private property

 

  The image of a Spanish conquistador atop the outline of Florida ties in with the book's immigration theme and tells us to look for a spot associated with the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Florida peninsula.  Abundant map and location details confirm that our destination is the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.  The alignment of a fountain and the moon-like dome of a building pinpoints the exact spot for the dig. 

 

 

Image 7, Verse 2: New Orleans

Status: Destroyed in the construction of Place St. Charles

 

 Various Mardi Gras clues get us to downtown New Orleans.  The image and verse guide us down Lafayette Street to the Piazza d'Italia, which is shaped like a series of concentric circles interrupted by the shape of Italy.  From there we can follow either of two paths as shown by the arrows around the clock face.  Our final destination is the block where the St. Charles Hotel once stood before it was torn down in 1974.

 

 

Image 8, Verse1: Houston

Status: Buried under a hardpacked gravel path

 

  Latitudes & longitudes get us to Houston (from the image).  The "number 982" sends us to an antique steam locomotive at Hermann Park (from the verse).  By lining up the train smokestack and a fountain in the lake (image) and stepping across the tracks of the miniature train (verse), we should arrive at a group of four trees (verse).  That spot also gives a single-point perspective over the receding ties on the train bridge (image & verse).  The casque was buried in the middle of the four trees.

 

 

Image 10, Verse 8: Milwaukee

Status: Unclear

 

  Views of the Milwaukee City Hall get us to the city (from the image).  A very detailed walk-through takes us from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Lake Park and to the Grand Staircase (from the verse).  Images of lawn bowling and a cicada nymph confirm that we are meant to turn right at the top of the stairs (image).  We are guided down the Locust Street Ravine Trail to a group of birches (verse) where we would see some symbol on a tree (verse) and the confirming image of a cement disk (image).  Preiss probably meant this to be one of the easiest of all the puzzles, but the removal of the group of birches took away the crucial clue for the final spot.

 

 

Image 11, Verse 3: Boston

Status: Unclear

 

  The Paul Revere reference gets us to Boston.  The names of two ancient Greek historians gets us to Copley Square.  The box with a light coming from below sends us into the subway and an obscure reference to a letter by Horace Walpole sends us west five stops on the Green Line.  A reference to a "green tower of lights" tells us to walk to Fenway Park via Kenmore Square.  Visual references to gardens and monuments tell us to proceed through the Back Bay Fens.  By exploring the area we discover a curious little park with two circles of brickwork.  Various references to the sidewalk, bridge, and utility boxes at the site confirm that we are in the right place.  Standing with our back to the steps should put us in the right place to dig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  From what we know so far, it appears that every puzzle in The Secret has its own way of combining the clues in the verse and the image.  There is no single "master system" that will solve all the puzzles.  Nevertheless, there appear to be certain common themes or approaches that are common to all of the puzzles.  One way to understand these commonalities is to view each solution as a set of three progressions that Byron Preiss was making.

 

  1. Moving from the well-known to the obscure.  To give searchers a "foothold" in each puzzle, Preiss clearly tried to include a a few well-known landmarks or events from each area.  But Preiss didn't want the puzzles to be too easy (and he clearly valued books and knowledge) so he also included a few bits that could only be found by doing some research.  And, ultimately, Preiss didn't want this to be just a library-based search.  He wanted people to go outside and explore, so the final clue at the burial site of each casque is something so minor that it wouldn't be in any book.  It could only be discovered by a searcher standing on the spot.  (See the "On-Site Confirmation" table below.)  Preiss was starting with the well-known features and expecting us to explore and discover the rest.
  2. Moving from large areas to small areas.  Clues in The Secret often follow a progression of scale as Preiss guides us from a state to a city to a park to a particular set of trees.  The idea is that, once we identify a particular region, we can eliminate all possible search areas outside that boundary.  The progression is useful, because it constricts the search area, but it only works if searchers correctly interpret each clue at the appropriate level.  Clues like Alcatraz Island (Image 1), Fort Sumter (Image 2), Milwaukee City Hall (Image 10), and the Statue of Liberty (Image 12) are all city-level clues.  They identify the correct urban area, but they mislead anyone who interprets them as identifying a more narrow area than that.
  3. Moving from the public to the private.  Most of the well-known landmarks in America are very crowded, public places where it would be impossible to dig a hole without attracting attention.  But Preiss needed those landmarks to provide that foothold and define the general area.  So, as each solution narrows down the search area and moves toward the more obscure clues, it also moves away from the crowds toward quieter and less-visited places.  The Image 11 solution, for example, starts with the well-known bits of Boston history (like Paul Revere's ride) but then moves from the crowded downtown area to the Back Bay Fens as it narrows the search area from the city to the park.  As we follow the route Preiss laid out, it's easy to imagine him searching and searching for a way to get away from all the prying eyes.  Just like in Chicago, where he found his spot in a clump of trees beside a noisy commuter train, Preiss found his spot in Boston in a weed-filled sliver of land beside an elevated highway.

 

  In short, the easiest clues in The Secret are generally there to identify large, county-size areas by hinting at their most iconic and heavily visited spots.  Once you know that general area, the increasingly subtle and obscure clues will narrow down the search area into smaller and smaller places that are off the beaten path.  The most subtle and obscure clues - that is, the ones that would never appear in any history book - are the ones that should tell us we are finally on the exact spot for the casque.

 


 

The On-Site Confirmation (aka "The Aha! Moment")

  Each image-and-verse pair in The Secret includes the representation of some small, obscure, and otherwise unimportant feature found right at the spot where that particular casque is buried.  In every case that we know of, the feature is something man-made (probably to give it permanence and ensure that the shape wouldn't change over time).

  These on-site confirmations were obviously selected with care by Preiss as he was choosing his spots.  None of the features are important enough to be mentioned in any history book, yet each one is distinctive enough to be more than a coincidence.  These features are meant to give a sudden jolt of recognition - an "Aha! moment" - to confirm that the searcher is in the right place and ready to dig.  This table lists the known and suspected "Aha!" Icons for the 12 images.

 

Image 1 - San Francisco

  The green spiral at the base of the rose is a match for an unusual spiral at the end of a handrail in Golden Gate Park.

Stow Lake

Image 2 - Charleston

  The "Aha!" icon for Charleston is not from the image but from the verse.  Many searchers puzzled over the reference to "May 1913" in line 10 of Verse 6, because nothing significant happened in the area on that date.  But in the final hiding spot, on the north side of a monument, there was a bronze plaque with a dedication and the final line of that dedication (closest to the ground) read simply "May, 1913."

 

 

 

 

May, 1913

 

 

 

May, 1913

Image 3 - Roanoke Island

  The "Aha!" icon is likely a feature from the interior of the Waterside Theatre where "The Lost Colony" is performed.  Certain props used in the performance are rebuilt every year (with minor changes) which may explain why this icon has not yet been recognized.

 

   

Image 4 - Cleveland

  The icon here was some feature of the Greek Cultural Gardens.  (We just haven't bothered to pin it down yet.)

 

   

Image 5 - Chicago

  The fencepost with the arch over it is very distinctive, visible from the casque burial spot

   

Image 6 - St. Augustine

  The "Aha!" icon for the proposed St Augustine solution can be seen in this photo. Two tall trees at left, with a picket fence in the background. Behind that, a fountain, which used to have a taller, urn-shaped top (see inset photos from current day (bottom right) and 1978 (top right).

 

  This capture from Image 6 is a stylized representation of this scene. The two tall trees, hints of a picket fence, a shape very similar to the older version of the fountain, with a moon-like orb behind - the FOY planetarium. There may even be a yellow arrow pointing to the actual dig spot at the base of the tree....


 

Image 7 - New Orleans

  This casque was almost certainly buried at the site of the former St. Charles Hotel in downtown New Orleans.  At the time Preiss was there in 1980, the famous hotel had been torn down and the lot was being used as a parking lot (hence the prominent use of "preservation" in the image).  Unfortunately, tourists don't tend to take pictures of parking lots, so we don't have a good idea of how things looked.  We aren't likely to find the Aha Image for this casque unless someone discovers some photos from the appropriate time period.

 

   

Image 8 - Houston

  The "Aha!" Icon for Houston is a particular view of the train tracks for the miniature train.  When one is standing in the correct spot for the dig, the tracks receding over the train bridge in the distance resemble the lines on the stone plaza in the painting.

 

  The technique is called one-point perspective and Preiss is hinting at its importance when he tells us in Verse 1 that Perspective should not be lost.


Image 9 - Montreal

  The "legeater" lamp was originally thought to be the image for this one, but no one has identified a possible dig site nearby.

 

  It might be worthwhile to search for a good image match that one could see from the southern tip of Saint Helen's Island.

   

Image 10 - Milwaukee

  The "Aha!" icon for the Milwaukee picture is likely to be the millstone that is being juggled.  A concrete cap to a utility tunnel at the base of the Locust Street Trail has a very similar appearance.

 

(Note: It's possible that an even more distinctive symbol existed at one point on the birch tree beside the burial spot.  If so, that confirmation feature is now gone.)

   

Image 11 - Boston

  There are so many matches betwee Image 11 and the Two-Circles site in Boston that it's hard to settle on just one. 

 

  The most startling connection is probably the tabletop in the lower left corner, which corresponds to a white utility box that was once at the site.  Image 11 captures not only the top of that box but also the edge of the ramp and a pipe or piece of conduit running along the wall.


Image 12 - New York

  The arched and divided panel behind the woman is a match for an arched window in the New York area.