DENVER — If you didn't already know it, there's a small chest hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains containing a $2 million fortune. Before you go racing out to find it; it's incredibly hard to find, in part due to the person who hid it and how he went about creating the puzzle. Most who hunt the treasure are secretive, but not all hunters after the treasure are trying to make it harder, however.
Forrest Fenn, who lives in New Mexico, hid the chest, full of coins and antiquities, amid a battle with cancer, fearing he would not conquer the disease. He survived, and he's gotten to watch treasure hunters scramble to decode a poem which he created as a treasure map.
For years, since the story of the chest exploded in popularity in 2013, hundreds of treasure hunters have worked to decode the poem, learn from clues and follow Fenn's additional clues sprinkled about throughout the years.
Hunters have gone to the extreme to locate the box — an 800-year-old bronze chest worth more than $25,000 alone — with some even losing their lives during the hunt.
Randy Bilyeu, another New Mexican, went missing during his search in the Rocky Mountains. His skeletal remains were later located with police closing the case, labeling it a mystery.
Two mysterious Texans have created a website with the goal of preventing unneeded death or injury during the search for the treasure, as well as a unified place to find information.
Cris and Jeff, who live in two separate Texas cities and chose not to be identified by their last names, created TarryScant.com, which is a simplistic website with a simplistic goal: help those searching for the treasure have an easier time.
"There's very much a community online — where people are secretive for solutions, although they're happy to help with questions," Cris said of his observations since beginning his own treasure hunt.
Cris came up with the idea to build a database of information to bring together a great deal of information from the community, Jeff helped bring it to life through code.
"There is a lot of information and a lot of opinions that get shared," Jeff said. "From my point of view, we're taking them more to the source, sifting out some of the opinion."
TarryScant.com may not look like much, but it holds a few keys that could help make the next millionaire in the U.S.: a simple search bar and Fenn's original poem.
Users can type in any keyword, for example a word from Fenn's short poem, and quotes and information relevant to the search will surface.
From that database, Cris and Jeff said hunters can come up with a plan without putting themselves in too much danger and searching up and down the Rocky Mountain's 14,000-foot peaks.
Besides, according to reports, Fenn has hidden his treasure in a valley somewhere. And no, it's not yet been found, so most hunters believe.
"I think that somebody would kind of want to step up and say, 'Hey, I'm the person who found this!'" suggested Cris.
When it comes to the hunting community as a whole, Cris and Jeff said they expect some skepticism, but they sought to put any qualms to rest.
"We don't really have any business expectations," Cris said. "We simply hope that if people enjoy the experience, they'll keep coming back."
The team described themselves as a two-man garage shop, without the capabilities to track search terms, and no ambitions to save or cache data about their users.
"We're more consolidating to get the stuff out there for people," Jeff said.
If nothing else, the team said they hope they've created a good resource for themselves when they next get back out there to search for the treasure.
Once that treasure is found? The website will likely cease to exist, but somebody will become a lot richer and Cris and Jeff like to think they will have had some hand in it.
To learn more about TarryScant.com, visit their site here.