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The Secret (a treasure hunt) / To Do
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To Do

Page history last edited by Oregonian 1 year, 3 months ago


  At this point in the search, the resources available on the web have been pretty heavily mined.  The internet sleuths have done a great job and now we need some off-line investigations.


  The key thing to keep in mind is that, while there were no digital cameras back in 1980, there was still a lot of color photography taking place.  Point-and-click film cameras were cheap and widely available.  And while some of the hiding spots, like the one in Chicago, were in obscure spots off the beaten path, it seems pretty clear that most of the casques were buried in heavily-visited parks and other attractions.  (The one in New Orleans is thought to been directly beside the route for the major Mardi Gras parades, where thousands of tourists would have been taking pictures every year.)


  All of those photos are gathering dust in attics and closets right now.  But digging them out now would make a huge contribution to the search.  The secret to solving these puzzles is to ignore how an area looks today and concentrate on how the same area looked in 1980, when Preiss was doing the work.  The Houston solution, for example, leads us to what is now a boring, nondescript patch of ground under a gravel path.  Looking at the spot today, one wouldn't think there was any reason for Preiss to bury his casque there.  But in 1980 the same spot had a square cluster of four small trees that lined up with the fountain and the nose of the train locomotive across the lake.  It was a clever and distinctive location to hide a casque at the time.


  Tens of thousands of tourists must have visited the Houston zoo in 1981 and been intrigued by the redesign that was taking place, when the lake was being drained to install the fishing piers.  There must be hundreds or even thousands of photos out there showing the locomotive being relocated around the lake from the zoo entrance to the eastern side.  (Who wouldn't stop to watch and take a picture when a train is being moved?)  The person who finds those pictures, hidden away in Houston, will make a big step toward solving the puzzle.


  If you live in or near one of the other places listed below, please consider going out to examine some resources to help us answer some questions.


If you live near....

  • ... St Augustine, FL: Read the posted Image 6 / Verse 9 solution and then visit the park to get us some current photos of that young cabbage palm beside the sidewalk connecting the parking lot to the restrooms.  There's probably nothing we can do about this one until a hurricane takes out the palm, but we might as well keep track of the current conditions.  The casque isn't going anywhere and this is the one that will most likely be (someday) recovered.

  • ... Houston, TX: Read the posted Image 8 / Verse 1 solution and then visit the spot in Herman Park near the railroad bridge.  See how many of the original four trees are still standing and see if you can locate the spots where the missing ones once stood.  This is another one that could (theoretically) be recovered someday, but with each passing year it's going to be harder to pinpoint the spot that was the "center of four alike," so the amount of digging that would be required keeps going up.

  • ... Montreal, Canada: Go out to Île Sainte-Hélène and get us some photos of whatever you find near that white stone at the southern tip.

  • ... Charleston, SC: Read the posted Image 2 / Verse 6 solution.  If our solution is correct, the casque was buried in White Point Garden at the base of a monument displaying the capstan from the USS Maine.  In 2007 the capstan monument was removed and replaced with a statue of William Moultrie.  Recovery of this casque depends (in part) on how much the ground was disturbed during that change.  See if you can find photos or descriptions of the change.  There must have been some written assessment of the existing foundation and how it would need to be modified.  If you can find whoever was in charge of the operation, try to get as much detail as possible about the digging that was done around the base of the Maine monument.

  • ... Milwaukee, WI: Photograph the area around the birch stumps at the base of the Locust Street Ravine Trail, as described on the Image 10 page.

  • ... New Orleans, LA: Read the Image 7 / Verse 2 solution on this wiki and then see if you can find any local photos of the parking lot that existed at the corner of Gravier and St. Charles in 1980.  There were regular Mardi Gras parades down that street, so maybe there's a shot with the parking lot in the background.  The lot was managed by Bob Himbert Parking, so maybe someone in the Himbert family has a photo.  (It's a long shot, of course.)  Also, there's a 1980 Rand McNally map of New Orleans at the Louisiana Historical Center, located in the French Quarter at the Old U.S. Mint. We need someone to go over there and get us a sharp, high-resolution scan so we can examine the city's street grid.  If they don't have a scanner available, a photo would be better than nothing, but it would need to be very steady and high resolution.  A cell phone probably wouldn't do it.  You'd need a digital SLR with a tripod and a flash.

  • ... Boston, MA: Read the posted Image 11 / Verse 3 solution and then pursue a dig at the Two-Circles site.

  • ... San Francisco, CA: Walk the eastern perimeter of Golden Gate park to see if there are any symbols anywhere that correspond to the symbols around the front of the dress in Image 1.


If you don't live anywhere near a casque site, there are still things you can do to help:


  • For Image 1:  Find out if the SF Parks Department really did add asphalt to that path at the top of the stairs sometime after 1980.

  • For Image 2:  Find historical photos of White Point Garden in Charleston, South Carolina, from around 1980.  In particular, it would be good to know what the east end of the park, along East Battery, looked like back then.  Some skilled internet sleuths could compare the base of the Maine monument to the base of the Moultrie statue that replaced it in 2007.  Is the new base the same size as the one that was there before?  If not, is the new footprint smaller or larger?  How does that affect the dig spot on the north side of original monument?


  • For Image 4:  Improve the Image 4/ Verse 4 solution page to explain how the second casque was found in Cleveland in 2004.

  • For Image 5:  Improve the Image 5 / Verse 12 solution page to explain how the first casque was found in Chicago in 1983. 

  • For Image 8:  This is a puzzle where some internet sleuthing could definitely help.  There must be hundreds of home movies out there showing family visits to ride the small-scale railroad in Hermann Park.  The vast majority haven't been digitized, but it would be great to find one that shows the cluster of four trees beside the tracks before the train bridge.  The first of the four trees disappeared sometime between 1981 and 1989, so finding something in that range or earlier would be great. 

  • For Image 9:  Find a match for the wiggle on the right side of the hat. (Could it be a street or a river?) Find a match for the black shape beside the legeater dog.  (It's probably a floor plan for a historic building, but the building may be gone now.) 

  • For Image 12: Help us find an affordable service that offers ground-penetrating-radar and/or air spade excavations in New York City.  Help us fundraise to pay for those rentals.


Note: Solutions have already been posted for San Francisco, Charleston, Roanoke Island, St. Augustine, New Orleans, Houston, Milwaukee, and Boston.  It would be great to have people pursue those casques and keep the rest of us informed on how it's going.

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Comments (13)

AndyF said

at 12:01 am on Oct 14, 2015

I seriously think I may have found the location of the Boston treasure. Based on a search done when we lived there plus some Google sleuthing today. As background, my husband and I located the "x marks the spot" for the Chicago treasure in the early 1990's, but gave up after we dug a while and didn't find the treasure (figured it was long gone). I no longer live in Boston-- any partners out there?

Crimson Lion said

at 10:39 pm on Jan 8, 2016

Did you dig 3 feet back then?

tjmurphy said

at 11:32 pm on Jan 8, 2016

I'm in Boston, care to share your suspected spot?

Crimson Lion said

at 11:48 pm on Jan 8, 2016

I got done, but at the moment, take a look at this page and try to look around there http://thesecret.pbworks.com/w/page/103709457/Image%2011%20Verse%203%20Solution

Crimson Lion said

at 11:48 pm on Jan 8, 2016

i mean to say I got none

LampShade said

at 9:41 pm on May 25, 2016

Hello anyone. I'm new to this hunt and am located in Toronto Canada, This summer I am planning a trip to Montreal. I've already been informed of a sign that needs a high res picture and I hope as a community we can come up with more things that need investigation.

LampShade said

at 8:13 pm on Jun 1, 2016

I'm getting a few of my friends together (might as well have fun in Montreal) including my French speaking cousin who can hopefully translate. We are looking at a voyage in July. That gives this community a month to figure this out. Also It was my 19th birthday yesterday. I can now legally get drunk!

Sean Rowell said

at 10:51 am on Jan 19, 2018

Has anyone figured out the New Orleans one yet? I see suggestions for it and they are all wrong. I can tell you exactly the location. I saw this on a show just the other night called expedition unknown. I became intrigued to see if I could find out if I know any of them. Sure enough when I saw image 7 I knew right away it was New Orleans. Finding this site I found out verse 2 goes with that image. Yet all the suggestions are the wrong location. I need to go to verify my theory but I am sure I am correct. I will give someone in private from here and you can check for yourselves. Just don't want to post public yet. After you see my reasons and look at pictures online you will see.

Denae said

at 10:37 pm on Jan 21, 2018

Hi Sean! I'm interested in your interpretations on the NOLA casque. I'll be down there this weekend to explore my own theory on where it may be hidden.

Conan Babin said

at 7:14 pm on Jan 22, 2018

Hey Sean. I live in the New Orleans area. I had the same revelation after watching the show. I spent yesterday in the park. Most of my research points to Jackson Square. There are, however, no obvious clues or "AHA findings" on site. You are also not going to be able to "legally" dig anywhere in the square. The thing to realize is the park back in 1981 was much different than today, including being open 24 hours. Now its closed to the public after dark. What that means is he could have buried the casque without difficulty, despite the public nature of the square. Be that as it may, I have sent an email today to the park commission for permission to probe the area. I don't expect to have a reply anytime soon but will keep everyone up to date.

Joshua Thomas said

at 12:29 pm on Feb 24, 2018

Quick question. I am new to this and have really been trying to figure it out, but am getting stumped on what the birth month and flower have to do with it? i was trying to figure it out but it doesn't seem to match up. I figure that if the birth month is july then it would mean number 7. Then you link that image with vers 7. But that isn't the case. Can someone please help!

Jess said

at 4:50 pm on Feb 26, 2018

No idea to be honest. It may be as simple as to identify the gemstone in question- the amethyst (‘Milwaukee’, February) and sapphire (‘St Augustine’, September) ones are actually not really identifiable in the paintings without the birth month link.

Linda S said

at 11:48 am on Jun 7, 2021

i have access to a mapping program that I can go back to 1999 in a lot of cities.

I also tried to some raffles on FB to raise money for GPR for SF but they stopped the raffles, I have ALOT of signed books of John Judes work, I would love to start some raffles up again, I have dble signed books, I have some Origins books and calendars.
so if that sounds good let me know..
AP rabbit hole san Francisco my face book page

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