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The Secret (a treasure hunt) / Image 08
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Image 08

Page history last edited by Oregonian 11 months, 2 weeks ago


General notes on Image 8



Image 8


Specific Observations

  Please record your notes about this image in the list below.  Use the letter/number grid to identify the point on the image that you're describing.  To keep things organized, 1) please start each observation with a letter/number combo (in bold), and 2) add new observations in the right place on the list to keep everything alphabetized.

  • A7 - There seems to be a sideways "2" or the letter "N" near the the top of the picture.
  • B2 - The star at the top could be there to give us compass directions (if it represents the north star), or it could be a hint toward Texas (the "lone star state").  The design of the star could be a hint that we are looking for the intersection of two lines.
  • B4/C4 - One of two flowers hidden in the trees.  The flowers are larkspurs, the birth flower for July.  The flower at B4 also appears to be a visual reference to the U.S. Space Shuttle.  The first space shuttle launched in 1981, so it would have been getting heavy news coverage around the time The Secret was published.  Houston, Texas has a long connection with NASA and the U.S. space program.
  • B9 - There is a shape that resembles a footprint with lines going across it.  This may be a representation of an astronaut's footprint on the moon, which is recreated in Tranquility Park in Houston.
  • C1 - The letter "g" or number 9 may be hidden in the tree.
  • C5 - The number "95" is in the tree.  (See "Latitude/Longitude Hints" below.)
  • C7 - The number "30" is in the tree.  (See "Latitude/Longitude Hints" below.)
  • D10 - The vertical lines, looked at sideways, look like a railroad track. 
  • F7-8 - The head of the rhinoceros is a hint toward the nearby Houston Zoo and also shows the outline of the major bays beside Houston.
  • F9 - The other larkspur hidden in the trees.
  • G10 - The number "96" is in the tree.  (See "Latitude/Longitude Hints" below.)
  • I6 - The shape of the largest dune resembles the shape of the amphitheater (bowl) of the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.  
  • J6 - The shape of the hood of the jinn could represent the metal roof of Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. 
  • J9/K9 - The shape of the sand dune here is almost certainly significant.  It resembles the "Moonscape Bench" near the lake, but that bench was only installed in 1999 (see below).
  • K3 & M3 - The small dimple (or divot or crater) in the column is almost identical to the divots in Image 11.
  • K4-K5 - The leaning rectangular stone could represent one of the two concrete supports that hold up the steel roof of the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
  • L6 - The figure resembles a jinn arising from a whirl of air, but it could also be a statue lined up with a fountain.
  • M3 - The number "29" (turned sideways) is on the base of the pillar.  (See "Latitude/Longitude Hints" below.)
  • M4-N9 - The shadow from the pillar forms a blue rectangle with a black border.  The blue space includes a red blob similar to the ruby at N4, but much fainter.
  • M5 - The smoke from the jinn appears to form a skull.
  • N4 - The jewel is a ruby, the birth stone for July.
  • O5 - The "fishbone" pattern on the ground could refer to train tracks or to a curved row of parking spaces.
  • O8 - The shadow of the whirlwind seems odd.  It is solid black across two rows of stones and then suddenly turns to a blue haze.  The black shape probably represents the smokestack on Engine 982, the antique steam locomotive that was on display at Hermann Park.
  • P2/P3 - The stone that is split seems significant.
  • P7 - There appears to be writing in the dust on the stones here.  Possibly an upside-down "AL"?



Other Notes:

  • In 2004 (shortly before he died) Byron Preiss responded to an e-mail question by writing "there is a treasure in houston. that's all i can tell you."  That message is what has kept this search focused on the Houston (Texas) area.
  • The setting looks very similar to Persepolis (which would agree with the immigration reference to Persia). The figure in the image is probably meant to be a jinn or genie.
  • The seven columns indicate that this is the painting for the seventh month (July).  The three columns in the foreground appear to be distinctive, important features, while the four columns in the background are all uniform, nondescript cylinders that appear to only be there to boost the total number.
  • Most of the picture seems to have a sharp distinction between blue space and tan space, possibly representing water and dry land (respectively).  There is a single, unbroken stone space on the right, but the stones are broken into rectangles on the left.  Conversely, the tower on the left is a single, unbroken pillar while the tower on the right consists of six stacked cylinders.
  • In the ground-level surface shown in the painting (rows K through P), the blue appears in the lower right and the tan appears in the upper left.  The jewel is on the tan and a little ways inwards from the blue.  If this area is a map of McGovern Lake, it suggests that the jewel is a little ways inland from the northwest shore.



Houston Parks:

  It appears that this painting is a collage, featuring bits from various public parks in the Houston area. Byron Preiss probably visited several of the parks and took photos as he made his decision about where to bury the casque.

  • Of all the parks in the Houston area, Hermann Park has received the most attention, primarily because it works well with Verse 1.  It has a miniature train with tracks that run through the area ("Small of scale, step across").  It also once featured an antique steam locomotive numbered 982 ("Take your task / To the number / Nine eight two").  For the history of where the locomotive was positioned at various times, see our Hermann Park history page.
  • A less likely possibility is Sam Houston Park, which in 1982 had two pieces of art - the Armillary Sphere and the Spirit of the Confederacy - that appear to be connected to the puzzle.  For an older theory about that park, see our Sam Houston Park page
  • Tranquillity Park, which is just a block away from Sam Houston Park, has also been discussed, because it has vertical columns similar to the ones in the picture.  The park is a monument to the moon landings and it includes a "lunar footprint" similar to the shapes formed by the branches in the upper, right corner of this painting.  Wiki user KJRP has assembled a three-part proposed solution in this park: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.




Image Matches

  The emphasis on columns in the image makes it a strong match to Tranquility Park on the southern edge of the downtown Houston area.  In particular, several of the structures in the park have the same gold color as the columns in the painting, and (like the "camel column") they appear to be formed from stacked cylinders.


  Note that the Wells Fargo Plaza (the blue building in the background of the photo on the far right) was under construction between 1979 and 1983, so it's possible that it may have been the inspiration for the blue background in the painting.


(All photos taken from the Waymarking page for Tranquility Park.)

  The foremost pillar in the image, with the sphere on top, is a very strong match for the layout of Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, where a circle around the Sam Houston monument is at the north end of a long, rectangular reflecting pool.


  The Pioneer Memorial Obelisk at the southern end of the reflecting pool may have been another inspiration for the pillars in this painting.  The obelisk was slightly further north in 1981 and it was moved to its current position around 2002-2003.



  The shadow from the column on the left has the (very) unnatural form of a blue rectangle with a black outline.  It appears to be a pool of water enclosed by a wall or boundary.  On the water there is a hazy, semi-transparent red blob that appears to be a reflection of the ruby at the base of the pillar. 


  Taken together, all of those bits suggest that this is a representation of the reflection pool in Hermann Park.  The real pool is also a long rectangle and it also stretches away from a stone column (the Pioneer Memorial obelisk).


  The two exotic animals on the top of the pillars, a camel and a rhinoceros, appear to be a reference to the Houston Zoo, located south of the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. 


  These animals may also represent map shapes in the area.  Some searchers have suggested that the camel matches the shape of McGovern Lake as it appeared in 1980.  (McGovern Lake has been reconfigured in recent years to be a very different shape.  To understand how that area has changed since 1981, visit our Hermann Park history page.)


click on photo to see enlargement

  Like the camel, the rhinoceros might be just a nod to the Houston Zoo or it might be a location hint showing us a shape of a nearby waterway.


  The outlined profile of the rhino's head matches a reflected representation of the major bays beside Houston, where large ships go in and out through the Houston Ship Channel to the Gulf of Mexico.  The snout of the rhino is Trinity Bay, with the horn being the estuary where the Trinity River meets the bay.  The sharp angle below the rhino's chin is Smith Point.  The ears are Clear Lake beside League City.  The rhino's neck and the top of the pillar form Galveston Bay.

  The shape of the hood of the jinn (particularly the angle around the face) resembles the metal roof of the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.

  The shape of the largest dune resembles the shape of the amphitheater (hill) in Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. Note the distinct shape of the crest of the dune.


  According to the Miller Outdoor Theatre's history page, "Miller's 'hill' was created with dirt from Fannin Street excavations" in 1948.  "The iconic hill was re-graded and raised" in 2009, so the hill and the sculpture at the top of it may be more visible now than they were in 1981.

 In the center background of the image there is a rectangular stone that emerges from the ground at a slant.  The only strong matches that have ever been proposed for that part of the painting are the two enormous concrete footings that hold up the arched roof of the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

  The sharp-pointed leaves on the trees could be a visual reference to the Atropos Key, a sculpture near the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.  The sculpture was installed at the park in 1972.


  Here's another photo with some more information about the sculpture.


  The very prominent lobing on the leaves may also be a hint toward the line in Verse 1 that tells us to look for "four alike / Small, split, / Three winged and slight."  The four objects are thought to be trees and the "wings" in question would be the lobes on the leaves of three post oaks.


  Atropos Key by Hannah Holiday Stewart

  The shape of the sand dune at J9 is almost certainly significant, but it can't be the "Moonscape Bench" near the train bridge, because that sculpture was only installed in 1999.


  One viewer has suggested that the dune could be a representation of the lion-shaped drinking fountains that were at the park.  The idea would tie in with the mention of a lion in Verse 1.


(Photo showing "one of the drinking fountains at the Houston Zoo" by Margaret H on Flickr.)

 Lion Fountain
  The single star at the top of the image may simply represent Texas (the "Lone Star State").  The circle and crossed lines, however, give it an appearance similar to that of the Armillary Sphere installed in Sam Houston Park in 1977.  According to the city's webpage explaining the installation, the Armillary Sphere "is so designed that this central rod points toward the north pole of the heavens, very close to the North Star."  The panel explaining the sphere can be viewed on Flickr. 
The Houston Armillary Sphere

  The figure with the crossed arms may be a representation of the Spirit of the Confederacy statue which stood in Sam Houston Park until 2020.  Despite the two strong matches, it appears that the references to that park were likely only meant to be city-level clues.  There are enough specific references to Hermann Park to rule out other parks in the area.


  The way it is lined up with a fountain, like a jinn rising out of a whirlwind, suggests that we should be visually lining up two things.

Spirit of the Confederacy

  The curved "stitching" at the bottom of the picture might represent the tracks of the miniature train.  But why the curve?  And why does it seem to point into the fountain?


  If the blue shading in the lower right corner of the painting represents water, the curve could represent the coast of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.  If so, the whirlwind/fountain is positioned over Houston and this could be intended as a clue toward the correct city.


  If the sphere and pillar tell us that we are looking at a map view of Hermann Park, there are other shapes to the right of the pillar that would correspond to features east of the reflecting pool.


  One of the most distinctive things about this painting is that the jinn is lined up directly behind the whirlwind or fountain.  This might mean that we are supposed to line up the top of the Miller Theatre with the fountain in the lake, or it might just be a more general reference to lining things up.  A line through the theatre and the fountain would put us on the southwest corner of the lake, west of Engine 982.


The lower right corner of the painting is shaded blue, which might represent water. What was originally called Hermann Park Lake (now called McGovern Lake) is due south of the reflecting pool.  The position of the jewel might indicate that we should be on the northeast or northwest shore of the lake.



There's general agreement now that the pillar with the sphere represents the reflecting pool and the Sam Houston Memorial in Hermann Park.  There's also agreement that we were meant to start at Engine 982, near the entrance to the zoo, and go from there to a spot where some major landmarks line up.  The five candidates that have been identified for lining up are:

  1. The top of the Miller Outdoor Theatre
  2. The Atropos Key sculpture
  3. The Pioneer Memorial obelisk*
  4. The fountain in the western half of the lake*
  5. Engine 982 on the shores of the lake*


* Important: Keep in mind that all interpretations must refer to where the objects were in 1981.  The obelisk, the fountain, and the train engine have all been relocated, and the Atropos Key and the top of the Miller Theatre may have been slightly repositioned as well.


The first three items on the list are possibilities because they project high into the air and can be seen from a long ways away.  The final two items are possibilities because they can be seen across the water of the lake without any trees or structures blocking the view.


A group of five points in a plane defines (at most) ten lines.  Here are the 10 lines at Hermann Park and an assessment of whether each one is likely to be part of the puzzle.


Atropos - Miller
Very unlikely.  Doesn't intersect the tracks of the miniature train.
Miller - Obelisk
Very unlikely.  Doesn't intersect the tracks of the miniature train.
Miller - Engine 982
Very unlikely.  The trees on the eastern side of the lake would have made it hard to see both features at once.
Atropos - Engine 982
Very unlikely.  The trees on the eastern side of the lake would have made it hard to see both features at once.
Obelisk - Engine 982
Very unlikely.  There was clear visibility, but the line would have crossed the train tracks in a grassy, open area just south of the obelisk.  Discreet digging would be impossible.
Atropos - Fountain
Unlikely.  The sculpture isn't very large and it's quite a ways back from the lake.  The line of sight would almost certainly have been blocked by trees and other vegetation.
7 Atropos - Obelisk Unlikely.  The obelisk is tall enough to offer an unobscured line to the Atropos Key, but the line would be on a slant.  The only place a viewer could have lined up the two objects would be north of the Miller Theatre.
Obelisk - Fountain
Possible.  This line would have crossed a little projection of land southwest of the obelisk.  The land is wooded, but heavily used.
9 Miller - Fountain Very possible.  The top of the theater would have been visible from across the lake, and the line would have passed over the train tracks and a wooded area southeast of the obelisk.  This is the line suggested by the design of Image 8, with the jinn standing directly behind the whirlwind.
10 Engine 982 - Fountain Very likely.  There would have been a clear line of sight across the lake and the line would have intersected with the train tracks on the northwest shore.  This line would also make the most sense with the illustration, where the whirlwind looks like a fountain and the shadow it casts looks like a locomotive smokestack.


Here are the 5 most probable lines drawn on the 1981 map:


The line about "perspective" comes directly after the line about "small of scale, step across" in Verse 1.  Searchers are apparently expected to step inside the train loop and then keep two objects in visual alignment.  But, as the map above shows, most of the objects that could define a line of sight are on opposite sides of the 1981 train route.  It would not be possible to keep two objects in alignment if they were in opposite directions.  It would also not be possible to stand inside the train route and sight along the line connecting the Pioneer Obelisk and the Atropos Key, because that line would slant upwards from the Key to the top of the Obelisk, to pass over the trees in between.


So, by elimination, the most likely objects that searchers are expected to align are Engine 982 and the fountain.  And, by using the two ends of the engine to draw our lines, we can define a wedge of land for our search area at the northwest corner of the Hermann Park lake.




Latitude / Longitude Hints


The branches of the tree form a "95" and a "96."  The city of Houston is almost perfectly framed by those longitudes.  No other major city in North America is within that range.
The number "29" appears at the base of the main pillar, turned sideways (see below).  The number "30" appears in the branches.  Houston is in between those latitudes.

The elusive '29' is in the markings at the base of the column which was previously thought to be a mystery symbol. Rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, the numbers are clear and there is possibly even an "S" with a degree circle on the right.  (Special thanks to user "howserboutdat" who cleared up a mystery that had puzzled many of us for months!)





Questions, questions, questions...

  • Was there only one "lion drinking fountain" at the zoo, or were there a whole series of them?  Was there a lion drinking fountain outside the zoo, near the south side of the lake?
  • Would it have been possible to see the Atropos Key from the far shore of the lake in 1981?  What about the top of the Miller Outdoor Theatre?
  • Was there a tunnel on the miniature train route in 1981?  If so, where was it located?
  • Is there a significance to the different spindle shapes at the top of the camel and rhino columns?



How to obtain permission for attempted recovery




Process Status:

Contact info Status:

As of Date:


Contact information:

Name: Houston Parks and Recreation Department



Alternate Contact info: 


Permissions Process:  An article in Free Press Houston (March 5, 2018) says "The Hermann Park Conservancy politely fields inquiries from amateur treasure hunters to discourage them from digging up the park."  They also include an example of one such communication:



Comments (Show all 50)

rathergohiking said

at 9:52 pm on Dec 31, 2015

What is the significance of the stones in the picture? There are five rows and two rows clearly each have 11 stones in each row.

rathergohiking said

at 11:20 pm on Dec 31, 2015

POST 1 of 2
I live just north of Houston and have searched for this on and off over a few years. I went to Hermann Park today and came up with several plausible ground zeros near McGovern Lake. The biggest problem is that this area has been renovated extensively over the years; not sure if the casque is even there now. If it is, it may take something like ground penetrating radar to find it.

Here is my take on the poem:

Fortress north (downtown Houston sky line)

Cold as glass (a perspective of seeing the downtown skyline)

Friendship south (Most likely the Zoo. There is a "Friendship Pavilion" where the Houston Garden Center was, but that was moved there from some place else in the park several years ago that I have yet to identify. That said, I still think that refers to the Zoo)

Take your task to number 982 (Old train location on SE side of McGovern Lake; probably the most solid clue in the poem; the starting point for a walk to ground zero)

Through the wood no lion fears (Go around the lake . A case could be made for either side of the lake, but I think you go west towards where the fountain was.)

In the sky the water veers (fountain in the lake on west side that is now gone)

Step across (mini train tracks or bridge?), perspective should not be lost (step over the mini train tracks. Pioneer Memorial and the train are smaller versions of themselves. Note that the train track route has changed since 1982. Could the number of stones in the picture be relevant as to how many steps you take? Does the direction or number of tracks in the image have relevance?)

rathergohiking said

at 11:21 pm on Dec 31, 2015

Post 2 of 2
In the center of four alike (GROUND ZERO)

Small, split (a group of four wing elm trees that are now 30+ years old?)

Three winged and slight (three possibilities: 1. Line up the Pioneer Memorial up with the Atropos Key to keep "perspective", 2. the "four alike" are winged elm trees, or 3. the Miller Outdoor Theater. Note the Atropos Key may have moved when the Miller Theater hill was renovated. I think it is #1 and #2 of the aforementioned items.)

What we take to be our strongest tower of delight (Pioneer Memorial; note that the Pioneer Memorial has been moved 50 feet south from its original location. If the casque was buried in close proximity to the Pioneer Memorial and the train tracks moved, the casque may have been destroyed during renovation of the Pioneer Memorial and its surrounding area.)

Falls gently in December night (note the direction of the shadow of the Veterans Memorial? The curtain falls at the Miller Theater?)

Looking back from treasure ground, there's a spout, the whistle sounds (you can see the water spout from GZ but maybe can only hear the train?)

As a result of my above conspiracy rants, I believe the casque was hidden somewhere on the north side of the lake. However, extensive renovations have been done throughout the area over the years. The NW side of the lake has been extensively renovated including creating new islands and altering its size, the Pioneer Memorial was moved 50 feet south of its current location, new walkways have been placed around and near the Pioneer Memorial and around the lake, the Friendship Pavilion was moved, the Houston Garden Center was replaced, the Oriental Gardens were created, the train tracks have moved and the renovation of the hill where the Atropos Key could have resulted in a new location for the Atropos key. Any of these renovations could have either destroyed the casque or distorted the clues substantially.

Oregonian said

at 11:41 pm on Dec 31, 2015

Have you looked at the Image 8 / Verse 1 Solution page? It lays out a complete solution very similar to what you're saying and it shows how the area at the northwest corner of the lake has changed over the past 50 years.


The page pinpoints the likely place to dig but (so far) I haven't seen any on-site photos of that spot. If you feel like investigating and sharing some photos with us, that would be great.

rathergohiking said

at 11:26 pm on Dec 31, 2015

I am also a geocacher and hid a geocache a bit northeast of the Pioneer Monument titled "A Tribute to the Secret Casque" (geocache #GC685TP). Hopefully, I will get some interesting posts when other geocachers find that geocache. Here is a link to the cache page for it: http://coord.info/GC685TP

Mary1114 said

at 2:15 am on Mar 16, 2016

I grew up in Houston my whole life. I still reside here. However, I'm 36 but I do remember the original train tunnel. The speakers inside had the reference to wizard of oz and I remember the wizard of oz playing at Miller, because my dad would take me all the time to Hermann park. What I dont know or don't remember is the tunnel being moved? I know the atropos key was moved.

Oregonian said

at 12:20 pm on Mar 16, 2016

Any historical information you can give us about Hermann Park would be very welcome! I don't think we ever pinpointed the location of the train tunnel, and this is the first I've heard about the Atropos key being moved. If you have historical photos of the park, you can upload them to the Image 8 folder using the "Pages & Files" button at the top of the page, or you can send them to me as attachments.

Natalie said

at 10:22 am on Jun 5, 2016

Hi! I'm here via the recent Vice article (http://www.vice.com/read/the-35-year-long-hunt-to-find-a-fantasy-authors-hidden-treasure).

I'm a native Houstonian that rode the train many times as a child and with my children (in the early 2000s). We boarded the train directly across from the entrance to the zoo. The tunnel was around the first curve once the train left the station. It was one of the first 'attractions' on the ride. There were brightly colored stuffed animals hanging along the wall of the tunnel. My guess from looking at the Earth View on Google (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Hermann+Park/@29.7172021,-95.3894368,192m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xcf5346357c789e3b!8m2!3d29.714875!4d-95.3891829) is that the tunnel was near (or just past) where Houston B-cycle is now.

The Houston Chronicle ran an article yesterday on Hermann Park with some old pictures. I wanted to share that here too: http://www.chron.com/local/history/culture-scene/article/Once-grand-now-grander-Hermann-Park-reflects-7962788.php

Natalie said

at 11:18 am on Jun 5, 2016

I just found this video of the train leaving the tunnel and you can see the zoo parking lot in the shot to the left.


That user (kanjo007) has quite a few Hermann Park train videos as he apparently used to be one of the conductors.

T54 said

at 5:31 am on Jun 16, 2016

Yeah I had a look at them I'v created a YouTube playlist with all 8 of them here:

See: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLM2dU1rXcR8zxz3Cg1qd5DGUKo_YOYzrD

Could be helpful especially the first and the last (videos).
What do you think?

Guardian said

at 3:31 pm on May 10, 2016

Houston Parks Board just put up a bunch of sites showing all their parks similar to what Google Street Maps does. http://houstonparksboard.org/google-trekker/

Here's where I think the Houston treasure is: https://www.google.com/maps/@29.7178169,-95.391956,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5Mb9ABbsWsarzOSl8FxU0g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656 base of the tree in the middle of the other four. Probably on the side near the center. It's untouched since 1980!

Oregonian said

at 5:03 pm on May 10, 2016

I don't think you're far off, but there are some problems with that spot. For starters, the trees to the east are cypresses, while the two trees on the west are pines. So it's not really the "center of four alike." Also, I don't know what the soil is like in Hermann Park, but cypresses on the edge of a lake should grow pretty fast. It's hard to imagine that those three are 35 years old. But the biggest problem is that Preiss says he buried the casque in the center of the four and you've got a tree right there in that spot.

I'm not saying that a casque can't be buried by a tree, but it has to be handled very carefully to avoid doing damage. Look at the example of Milwaukee. Preiss buried the casque by a tree but he told us explicitly that it was at the foot, and he told us what side of the tree it was on. It's just very hard to believe that Preiss would bury a casque at the base of a live tree but not tell us the side. I don't think he was the sort of person who would want us to be digging a trench around a tree and severing a bunch of roots.

Julian said

at 5:22 pm on May 10, 2016

I too think it is buried at the base of a tree based on the perspective found in the image. That is, the tower with a ball represents the tree. If we are to use perspective in this puzzle and the star as a compass for due north then we do know which side the casque is buried because the image shows it on the south/southeast. If BP thought that these puzzles were too easy and expected them to be sozzled within months or a few years then burying casques next to trees would be fine. The root ball of smaller trees isn't anything like it is for old growth, especially 35 years later. If someone had solved the puzzles in the timeframe that Preiss had originally expected then they would have likely come upon perturbed earth at the dig site that would have given away the casques location. The matter of fact is that we are using speculation to say what the author would and wouldn't do, but with only two casques out of 12 found, we don't really have precedent to exclude trees. Nor is there any explicit text that says so. Furthermore, many of the tree in Hermann Park have died. The center of 4 alike could be interpreted as a different tree in the center of 4 trees that are alike, and the other trees may well be dead from construction, drought, or hurricanes.

HoustonTxDave said

at 2:57 pm on Jul 4, 2016

The 4 fountain around the obelisk did NOT exist in 1980.

Diane said

at 6:58 pm on Sep 10, 2016

Close to the 'N' in the topmost part of the picture, I see the letters 'L S' (A/B-8) : http://thesecret.pbworks.com/w/file/110906242/LS.png For 'Lone Star'?

Odeyin said

at 11:17 am on Mar 17, 2017

Just a note: in the block to the right of the Ruby there is the number '982'
In N4 the small block.

Odeyin said

at 10:37 pm on Apr 13, 2017

So I take a different perspective on M3, or the bottom of the main pillar. To me, it seems like it is Sam Houston on his horse.(in the same pose as the statue in the park)

Mariska said

at 10:18 am on Apr 15, 2017

I was thinking about how Preiss incorporated parts of a city flag in another picture, and looking at this picture the shadow of the whirlwind (O8) looks a lot like the shape of the chimney on the train on the old city flag (1912) the smoke comes out of the chimney in the same angle and shape. picture here: http://thesecret.pbworks.com/w/file/117172311/img%2008%20city%20flag.jpg

Mariska said

at 10:23 am on Apr 15, 2017

here are the shadow and flag. I know, not an exact match, but maybe a flag from another year? : http://thesecret.pbworks.com/w/file/117172347/cityflag.jpg

bestauntie said

at 10:41 pm on May 29, 2017

I would like to propose a "meetup" of all the Houston searchers. We can meet at Hermann Park one weekend or after 5pm and 'walk' the various solutions together. Obviously, there will not be any digging at the time because we will need to get permission but perhaps we can come to one solid conclusion (with various great minds offering solutions) before we maybe present a dig site to the COH for possible approval. If you would be interested in meeting as a group (in a public place!), please email me through here or via email at mkfireflyunit@gmail.com and I can send details for a date/time.

Moderators-I do not know if this is allowed, please let me know if not!

bf5man said

at 8:22 pm on May 30, 2017

Houston searchers, here's some videos you might find interesting.
The first one shows the lion fountains as they were in the sixties: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfJWLk1R7E4
The second one shows another lion fountain from 1974: https://youtu.be/hq_8bSkTVpA?t=30s

This other one takes you into an almost uninterupted ride in the train from 1985: https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc
-Miller outdoor theater @45s: https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=45s
-Sam Houston monument and Pioneer Memorial Obelisk @1m57s: https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=1m57s
-Train bridge and footbridge side by side @2m17s: https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=2m17s
-McGovern fountain @3m05s: https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=3m5s
-Footbridge again @3m 19s: https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=3m19s
-Zoo's Pyramidal building @3m44s : https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=3m44s (could this pyramid have been Byron's inpiration for the arabic theme?)
-McGovern fountains again @3m56s https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=3m56s
-Engine 982 (hard to distinguish) @4m09s https://youtu.be/4Azy5IRIdzc?t=4m9s
-The rest of the video is a visit to the zoo.

The same family went back to the park in 1989, I suspect that much clearer video might show the 4 trees of Oregonian's solution at 7m09s: https://youtu.be/vUgQiHIf4Ls?t=7m09s Interestingly, I'm not the first to have pointed it out looking at the video's comments :)

Oregonian said

at 11:33 am on Jun 2, 2017

Yep, the 1989 video is the closest thing we have to a "Zapruder film." It shows the three trees that were still there at that point and it also shows a brief glimpse of Engine 982 across the lake (in its new position). When you see that silver smokestack across the lake, it's easy to understand why Preiss would use it as a landmark and line it up with the fountain.

There must be many, many families in Houston that have old Super 8 movies from Hermann Park in the early 1980's stashed away in their closets. The only reason we don't see them on YouTube is because it's a hassle to convert film to digital video. But it would be great to somehow find one of those movies showing the train ride as it existed in 1981, with all four trees still there.

Dane said

at 4:10 pm on Jun 2, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Azy5IRIdzc&t=15s You can dissect this 1985 clip too. they're on the same mini train. Also...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfJWLk1R7E4 - lion fountain has a block that matches the outline of the fountain in section J/K 10.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTSXQor87OY = the zoo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq_8bSkTVpA = 3:09 fountain

Oregonian said

at 11:20 am on Jun 3, 2017

Unfortunately, I haven't found any useful bits of evidence in the videos that are currently out there. The Houston solution is so solid at this point that only a few specific details would add any more strength. And the most important bit of evidence would be a ground-level image of the 4th tree that was beside the railroad tracks in 1981 but gone by 1989.

Ordinarily it would be hopeless to look for a 35-year-old image of a particular tree in a wooded park. The thing that makes this case different is that it wouldn't be as if people were just wandering around taking random pictures. The tracks of the miniature train ran right beside the "4 trees" spot and the train was a major attraction for families with small children. And those families are exactly the ones who would have been purchasing Super 8 film cameras back then to document special events. I doubt that even a week went by in 1981 and 1982 without someone filming the train ride.

Those films are all sitting in dusty closets somewhere. It's just a question of how to find them. Put an ad on Craiglist offering to digitize Hermann Park videos for free? Send a note to high school class reunions for people who would have been toddlers in 1980? Find a seniors group with people who might have been parents at around the right time? Some strategy like that might work.

Dane said

at 1:42 am on Jun 11, 2017

6:40 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUgQiHIf4Ls The 4 small trees seem 3 winged. Thoughts?

Guardian said

at 3:26 am on Jun 11, 2017

I didn't see the trees, but we do get the approximate location of the train tunnel when we saw the back of Miller Theatre ahead and to the left when they came out.

The same guy posted another one from four years earlier (March 1985) at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4Azy5IRIdzc. It shows the lake fountain, the original location of the Pioneer Memorial Obelisk with a tree next to it, and parts of the petting zoo. I didn't see anything useful in the zoo, but that doesn't mean nothing's there.You may have made a valuable find!

Aniorcten said

at 9:35 pm on Jun 15, 2017

I live in the Houston area and know a few train enthusiasts, who have lived in the area for 40+ years, that might have pictures or videos of the train at Herman Park (will ask around). Anyways, I stumbled upon this video that was posted back in March about a possible location spot and wasn't sure if this would be helpful or a waste of time to follow up on.


Also, I apologize if this information has already been discussed. I will let you know if I find pictures/videos taken of that area between 1980-1989.

Guardian said

at 3:51 pm on Jun 24, 2017

I just uploaded four files related to Hermann Park and Image 8.

An overhead comparison of the "95" tree branch and the Fannin offramp from US-59 south, which is still the same as in 1982. They are almost identical.

A visual depiction of the gorilla in the upper right corner. The Zoo held one of only two gorillas in the US, who died just a few years ago at the ripe age of 40. There used to be a statue of a gorilla on display, but it's in storrage. For the life of me, I remember the statue, but I can't remember what it looked like. It was on display at the entrance to the exhibit.

A photo of the Taipei Freindship Pavilion during its move to its current location.

A photo of a building next to the reflection pool that has seven columns on each side of an indenditure. The seventh on each side is back at an angle. The right one is just offscreen, and the left one is behind another. We took a good look at this building when we met a few weeks ago, and we weren't sure what to make of it. I plan on getting more pictures next weekend, when it will hopefully be dry.

bestauntie said

at 6:24 pm on Jan 22, 2018

BC/89 is that a face inside an X? I see an eye, nose and smile. Plus, is that an X?

Jamey Ellis said

at 8:26 pm on Jan 25, 2018

I can see Apollo, the Greekgod in D-3/4, on the dark side of the ball. Now this looks to me like the Moon that is used on the Apollo space program logo. If you look at both symbols the ball look the same as the on on the space program logo. The stars also line up in the same place, and look the same. As for the blocks or squares that run from the bottom left of the picture could represent a Hermann grid illusion, hence Hermann Park. I’m trying to find a way for the blocks in the picture to line up with the city block grids as if Hermann Park was never there, but so far no luck.

Odeyin said

at 11:17 pm on Mar 6, 2018

So, I haven't mentioned this before, but the base of the pillar with the numbers, also appears to be Sam Houston on his horse. (M3) at least that is what I have seen the whole time studying this image. Just to be sure, I also see the numbers..

Brad said

at 8:21 pm on Dec 20, 2018

I have been wondering about the train reference and symbolic traintracks in the image. That linked with the train spout shadow and perspectival paving and "keep perspective" note in verse.
Has anyone considered a location on the Eastern side, rather than the Wester one proposed?
The image seems to have a straight section (pavers) then a right hand turn (symbolic traintracks) a train (spout in shadow of Djinn), and a return continuance of the right turn (arc crack in pavers) that could go back to a straight section (pavers again). this may fit well with the Eastern side of the minature train line in the heavily wooden section. This comes from the aerial and figurative maps on the Herman Park page of this Wiki. Admittedly, these are not terribly accurate representations, and are no longer on the route, so it;s hard to verify if there would be a match.
The biggest problem with this is that the area in question has been heavily redeveloped, and the casque was probably obliterated with wholesale digging.
It may assist with the "keep perspective" note in the verse as you could stand at a point, look down the perspective line of the straight train track, and also see a small train near you and a large train in the distance, which could possibly create a view where the trains seem the same size like the popular optical illusions where you need to guess which character is bigger (even though they are the same size). The train track is popular in those illusions because it creates a sense of distance, so Preiss would have been aware of using a train track in that way and could have replicated it.
Sadly, it doesn't help much because the location is no longer anything like how it was in 1980...

Oregonian said

at 9:12 pm on Dec 20, 2018

"you could stand at a point, look down the perspective line of the straight train track"

That's really the crux of the whole thing. To get the effect of vanishing point perspective, one needs to be facing a set of parallel lines that seem to converge in the distance. But the 1981 train route consisted almost entirely of curves. And even with the somewhat straight sections, it's very unlikely that Preiss would expect searchers to stand between the train tracks, even for a miniature train. What we need is a place where the tracks run perfectly straight and then make a sharp turn, so someone can stand safely on bare ground and still look down the straight section of track.

After watching a lot of train videos and studying a lot of aerial photos, I'm convinced that the train bridge is the only spot where that effect would have been possible.

Brad said

at 1:33 am on Dec 21, 2018

I am thinking of a point on the inside of the train line where the "miniature train note is on the drawn map in the 1960 (approx.) section of the Herman Park page of this wiki. I know it's not exactly straight tracks to the full-sized train, but it could be relatively straight to work. Problem is that there may be way too many trees to allow a clear view and make it happen. It also may be too far away to get the miniature-full sized train effect. Just a thought.
The biggest issue is all of the renos over the years. They have completely changed the area.
I wonder if BP stayed aware of the changes to the locations of the casques over the years. You know, keep an eye on his ceramic children...

Oregonian said

at 8:07 am on Dec 21, 2018

Hmm... Several thoughts here:

1) Just finding a "relatively straight" section of track isn't enough. The whole idea of one-point perspective is that the artist uses perfectly straight lines to structure the drawing.

2) Even if someone found a perfectly straight section of track other than the train bridge, it would still only provide two lines: the two rails of the track. But one-point perspective always uses multiple lines radiating outwards, so the whole image can show the effect. Train tracks are a classic teaching example for the technique, but they always include fence posts or telephone poles or something else going alongside. (Examples: https://www.google.com/search?q=single+point+perspective&source=lnms&tbm=isch ) The great thing about the train bridge is that it has something like 10 different parallel lines when you count the tracks, the platform, and the side railings. It looks like something out of a drawing textbook.

3) The line about perspective comes directly after the line about "small of scale, step across." Presumably, searchers are meant to cross the tracks and immediately see the perspective. If someone went counter-clockwise around the lake, it wouldn't have been clear where to cross the train tracks. But going clockwise around the lake would have made it very clear, because the train bridge was what interrupted the shoreline.

4) Digging on the east side of the lake would have been a terrible idea. There were big trees with lots of roots and, more importantly, there were all sorts of underground wires for the train station and the high-voltage lights that illuminated the fishing piers. It would be incredibly dangerous to dig there. But the NW edge of the lake had none of those problems. No big trees and no lighting or wiring at all.

5) Yes, things have changed over the years, but that's why we have the Hermann Park history page. Take time to study it and go over what we know. The area by the train bridge is still intact.

Brad said

at 6:52 pm on Dec 21, 2018

Yeah, I see your point. I never thought about underground cabling. It does say it won'y be anywhere dangerous.
I have just been trying to consolodat the curved nature of the symbolic traintracks in the image..
The East side was always problematic to me because there was no man-made monumentation, and way too many trees to find "4 alike", unless, for some reason, there were only 4 winged elms in that whole area.
Oh well...

Oregonian said

at 11:56 am on Dec 23, 2018

Right. That's why the whole idea of digging inside the zoo was a nonstarter. Even apart from the issue of smuggling a shovel past the gatekeeper and digging in front of big crowds, the safety problems just rule it out entirely. Zoos are full of underground wiring for pumps, lights, heaters, coolers, and god-knows-what-else. Digging there would be crazy.

Preiss is starting us at the locomotive and taking us on a very deliberate walk around the western edge of the lake. The "woods no lion fears" sends us past something by Visitor Services building. The "water veers" takes us to the western edge of the lake, nearest to the fountain. "Small of scale" sends us across the train tracks (and limits our search to the interior of the loop). And there we are, at the four small trees and the single-point-perspective train bridge.

The missing piece, of course, is the solid interpretation of "the woods no lion fears," because that's the single line that steers us away from the zoo entrance and sends us westward around the like. It's pivotal. And, unfortunately, no one seems to have found any photos or videos of the appropriate area. We have two very good photos from people who were facing the front of the locomotive. Those pictures show the background to the east. But (not surprisingly) we haven't found any photos from people facing the other way. It just wasn't as interesting an area.

Joshua Thomas said

at 11:17 pm on Mar 9, 2019

Another thing that might be interesting, in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbL-Rmre4V8 at 1:16-1:22 it shows a statue in the garden that looks similar to the top of the pillar the camel is standing on. The guy in the video talks about how the japaneese gardens were built as a symbol of friendship between the U.S and Japan. Kind of interesting if you link it into line 3 of verse 7. Not sure if this means anything, but it's definitely an interesting concept.

KJRP said

at 8:48 pm on Jan 1, 2023

Happy New Year! For anyone interested in Tranquillity Park: https://youtu.be/XOGI44DwWHw

Limey said

at 6:51 am on Feb 18, 2024

Contrary to what we’re lead to believe, In the “Field Guide to the Fair People”, Page 199 for ‘The Job Goblin’ appears to give clues linking Verse 1 to Image 8. If we flip Image 8 from left to right, the columns in the background match up with the columns in the illustration on page 199.
Also in the illustration, the man is sitting on a girder with an ‘H’ profile (‘H’ for Houston). Not only that but the train has “NO. 82” above a possible large ‘9’ on its smokebox door.

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