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Local author Forrest Fenn publishes latest book

SANTA FE, N.M. — Forrest Fenn, the Santa Fe collector and author whose sometimes controversial treasure hunt has become a phenomenon, is releasing his third memoir.

Fenn said this week via email that the book, “Once Upon a While,” has gone to the printer and there will be a book launch Nov. 2 at Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo St. Store owner Dorothy Massey confirmed that the 6 p.m. event will include a discussion between Fenn and author and journalist Douglas Preston, who wrote the book’s foreword; a book-signing will follow.

Forrest Fenn

Fenn has received national attention for his 2010 book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” which includes a poem he says provides clues to finding an antique chest he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountains West that contains more than $1 million worth of gold coins and other items. He also published “Too Far to Walk” in 2013.

Numerous national news organizations, including the New York Times and NBC, have kept up with the treasure hunt and helped draw people into Fenn’s orbit. Fans of the hunt have staged “Fennboree” gatherings in northern New Mexico in recent years.

This summer, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas asked Fenn to call off the hunt after the deaths of two Colorado treasure hunters, Paris Wallace and Randy Bilyeu, along the Rio Grande since 2016. Also, a missing Colorado Springs man, Eric Ashby, is said to have been looking for the treasure in June when his raft capsized in the Arkansas River. A body found in the river weeks after his death has not yet been identified.

Fenn said in his email that the new book contains stories he’s already told through, a fan blog for those searching for the treasure on which he has shared virtual “scrapbooks” and other short passages. He said the book includes versions of these stories that are “rewritten and expanded, with lots of graphics added.”

Though Preston’s foreword, already published online, makes several references to seeing the author’s treasure chest full of gold, gemstones and cash, and to Fenn’s plans to hide it, Fenn did not answer questions about whether the new book contains additional treasure hunt clues. “I don’t want to say more about the contents, except to say that I think it will have broad human interest,” he said.

Some of the most obsessive Fenn treasure hunters scour everything Fenn writes or says, as well as photographs of Fenn, for clues, and often post interpretations and theories online. Several claim to have solved Fenn’s poem puzzle, but say the treasure was never at the designated location, has been moved or can’t be reached.

The new book is being published privately by the book’s art director and designer, Lou Bruno and Susan Caldwell.