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Treasure Hunt Fever and the Economy

Economic Boom
Economic Boom
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There is a hidden treasure somewhere north of Santa Fe, New Mexico that has captured the imagination of hundreds of prospectors including this writer. A rich old man named Forrest Fenn, who made his fortune searching and collecting precious metals, jewels, and artifacts, was pronounced dying of cancer. To leave a lasting legacy, he decided to collect a chest-full of his collection and hide it outdoors with the intention of laying with it in his dying day and that one day a prospector like himself with be surprised to discover it and find a special message.

Then he went on remission and is now well. But rather than retrieve the treasure, he decided to keep it for all to seek. In writing his memoir, "The Thrill of the Chase", he said he left hints of its location and he also composed a poem giving 9 clues to its whereabouts. His added motivation was to get young and old alike to discover the joy of the outdoors while seeking the trove. He said it is in a safe place that can be traversed even by kids and where an old man could go carriying a 40-lb chest.

Why is this a topic on economics? It is an example of Klondike gold rush fever that captured the imagination of 100,000 prospectors to try and go to the hinterland of Alaska in 1896 for hidden gold and thereby made economic boom towns out of the 2 ports of Dyea and Skagway in Alaska, the town of Dawson also in Alaska, and not the least, cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Economic prosperity is a matter of expectations.

There will be a horde of expectant prospectors traveling to cities and states north of Santa Fe, New Mexico with money to spend and giving economic boost to local economies. The Rockies is now a major tourist destination. The chances of discovery may be slim but the thrill is not necessarily in the find, but in the chase.

This writer and daughter have caught the fever. See