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

This version was saved 4 years, 8 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Mary1114
on March 16, 2016 at 7:04:01 am

I reside in Houston, and I've lived here all my life. J6 is wrong. It is never been about Miller Outdoor Theater, but the history behind it in the 1900's. Email me and I will only show you the pic I found that matches the exact illustration. Also the shape of the sand everyone is trying to idenitfy is a park stone that was there in 1981 by the water. The old train in the 80's would say when you road through "lions, oh bears oh my" Miller Outdoor Theater did play Wizard of Oz in the 80's. But like I said J6 is wrong. So very wrong. It has a lot to do with a zoo keeper back then. I also realized nobody has caught the shoe yet in the illustration!!! There's even a statue for that. Happy hunting. My email is m.mitchan@gmail.com


General notes on Image 8

  • This is the image for July and the immigration reference is to Persia.
  • This image is thought to be linked to Verse 1 and a casque in Hermann Park in Houston, Texas.  To understand how that area has changed since 1981, visit our Hermann Park history page.
  • The proposed solution for this casque is given on the Image 8 Verse 1 Solution page.
  • Hey, Texans!  The Image 8 / Verse 1 pages are currently getting a huge amount of attention from your state.  Just in the past few days we've had website visits from Houston, Austin, Dallas, Cypress, Friendswood, Beaumont, Rosanky, Shiner, Deer Park, League City, Katy, Pearland, Dayton, Spring, La Porte, Port Arthur, Killeen, Richmond, Lake Jackson, College Station, Sugar Land, Nederland, and San Antonio.  Everyone south of Muleshoe is getting into the act!  If you are using these pages to guide your search, it would be appreciated if you could check in and tell us how things are going.  Photos of the dig site and the view across the lake can be uploaded directly to this site or to a free account on Flickr.  If you don't have a camera, you can still post comments at the bottom of this page.  A lot of you are obviously working on this.  We'd love to hear from you!



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.
  • 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. 
  • 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 (hill) in 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. 
  • K3 & M3 - The small dimple (or divot or crater) in the column is almost identical to the divots in Image 11.
  • L6 - The figure resembles a jinn arising from a whirl of air, but it could also be a statue lined up with a fountain.
  • M5 - The smoke from the jinn appears to form a skull.
  • M3 - The number "29" (turned sideways) is on the base of the pillar.  (See "Latitude/Longitude Hints" below.)
  • 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:

  • The image represents spirits from Persia and the immigration clues suggest that the casque should be somewhere in the desert southwest, possibly near where the Navaho people lived.  Some people have thought that the dune in the background has a profile similar to that of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, which would mesh with the theory about the southwest.  However, 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).
  • 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 has 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 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 "space suit footprint" similar to the shapes formed by the branches in the upper, right corner of this painting.
  • For a great overview of the parks along Buffalo Bayou (the downtown Houston waterway) see the Buffalo Bayou Hiking / Biking Trail Guide.




Image Matches

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 in Sam Houston Park.  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 foremost pillar in the image, with the sphere on top, is a very strong match for the layout of Hermann Park in Houston, where a circle around the Sam Houston monument is at the north end of a long, rectangular reflecting pool.  (This interpretation works with the idea that the star at the top of the painting represents north.)


The Pioneer Memorial Obelisk at the southern end of the reflecting pool may have been the 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.



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.  (Click on the image at near right to see a close-up in a new window.)


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.

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.

The figure with the crossed arms may be a representation of the Spirit of the Confederacy statue in Sam Houston Park.  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. 


Although there is a lake and a fountain in Sam Houston park, it now appears likely that this was a red herring.  The things we should be lining up are probably in Hermann Park.

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

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.

  Atropos Key by Hannah Holiday Stewart
The camel might simply represent an animal in the nearby Hermann Park zoo, or it might mean something more.  Is there a significance to the spindle shape at the top of the column?  
Likewise, the rhino might be just a zoo reference or it might mean something more.  It also has an unusual shape at the top of the column.  
What is the significance of the brick that emerges from the ground at a slant at the base of the camel-column?  

The shape of the sand dune at the far right in the picture is almost certainly significant, but no one has found a good match so far.


Sadly, the "Moonscape Bench" near the train bridge cannot be a match, because it was only installed in 1999.


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?


The position of this stitching in the "blue portion" of the painting may represent the train crossing water.  The train bridge on the 1981 route (and the current route) is southwest of the Pioneer Memorial obelisk.




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


(Remember that all of these refer to where the objects were in 1981.  The obelisk was moved 50 feet south in 2002, and the fountain and train engine are now gone.)


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.
Obelisk - Fountain
Possible.  This line would have crossed a little projection of land southwest of the obelisk.  The land is wooded, but heavily used.
Atropos - Fountain
Very possible.  The sculpture should have been visible from across the lake, and the line between the two features would have passed over the train tracks and a wooded area southeast of the obelisk.
8 Atropos - Obelisk Very possible.  The sculpture should have been visible and the line would intersect the train tracks in a secluded area northwest of the lake.
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 possible.  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.


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


Evidence suggests that we have three strong possibilities, ranked from low to high probability:

  • Area #1: The wooded area just southwest of the obelisk.  This area is heavily visited and the soil was probably very compacted, even in 1981.
  • Area #2: The wooded area northwest of the lake.  This would have been the least-visited and least-visible of the three sites in 1981.  It also seems to be the only place where two lines intersect.
  • Area #3: The wooded area just southeast of the obelisk.  This would correspond to the position of the jewel in the painting (relative to the column with the sphere).  The train tunnel may have also been in this area.  And this area involves lining up the fountain and the jinn, just as they appear to be lined up in the painting.






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?



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