‘The Secret’ is a fantasy book that has been brought to life. The tales from the pages of the novel have surfaced into the world with the clever marketing stunt of real buried treasure. This may sound like complete fiction, but in 1981 the publisher Byron Preiss hid treasures across America as part of a plan to promote his new book ‘The Secret’. However, 35 years later there is still a hunt to find the authors buried treasure. So far only two of the treasures have been discovered and according to the fantasy novel there should be 10 treasures remaining.
Byron Preiss is thought to have buried treasure in Milwaukee and nine other states possibly including New York. But, before you get the metal detectors out, this buried treasure is not gold, in fact it is ceramic encased Plexiglas. It’s safe to say that one man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure and a very clever marketing strategy. This may sound like nothing that special, but, within ‘The Secret’ lies puzzles in the form of cryptic verses, which once solved leads you towards casque that holds a key for a safe deposit box. It is though that the safe deposit box contains a gem worth about $1,000.
The novel gained a cult following to hunt for the buried treasures and months after ‘The Secret’ was released, hundreds of people began to claim they had found the locations of the treasures. A year later in Chicago, a group of teenagers had solved one of the tricky puzzles and found the location of one of the treasures. but it took decades before anyone found the next special casque from ‘The Secret’ In fact, it was not until 2004 that the next legendary casque was discovered.
After a long four hours of digging in a park in Cleveland an attorney named Brian Zinn found the treasure. He says; “we didn’t really care who found the treasure, we just wanted to solve the puzzle”. It appears the puzzles in the novel are extremely hard, as 2004 is thought to be the last time anyone solved a riddle from ‘The Secret’. Fifteen years on from its last discovery it is questionable whether the casque’s are still remaining or if the puzzles will ever be cracked.
In 2005 Byron Preiss died in a car accident making the treasure hunt even more questionable as the locations were never revealed. It is not just the issue of time passing and the difficulty of the puzzles, ‘The Secret’s’ treasures may also be lost because the publishing house went bankrupt soon after the death of Byron Preiss. However, the hunt continues, using forums to gather people to hunt these treasures it has become quite the obsession for many partakers. Many have moved next to suspected burial sights in hope of finding the treasures.
Brain Zinn who most recently found a casque in 2004, is now posting online any clues, hints and findings for everyone to share in a hope of eventually solving the puzzle. For many ‘The Secret’ treasure hunt has completely preoccupied their lives. John Pivonka, a Milwaukee-based audio engineer has become invested in the treasure hunt. For the past three years of his life he has been fully invested in the quest to find the treasures from ‘The Secret’. Searching through images and archives in the Milwaukee historical society that resembled a likeness to the puzzles in the novel. Pivonka even installed a radar system to detect possible casque’s locations. This Treasure hunt is definitely obsessive.
The puzzles that lie in the pages of ‘The Secret’ take skill to decipher. The images in the novel only offer hints and clues towards the locations, you have to be able to analyse each aspect of the image solve the puzzle. For example, a hint that a casque is hidden in Milwaukee is an image that depicts a towering building with two spires and the outline is thought to be the same as the Milwaukee City Hall. Other clues include a verse which tells the reader to “ascend the 92 steps”, which researchers believe to be a reference to the Grand Staircase in the city’s Lake park area which is also 92 steps.
There is one major issue with finding the casque’s, the possibility that they have, over the past 35 years, been destroyed by natural causes or by renovation work in city parks. The local parks department in Milwaukee is concerned that the constant digging from treasure hunters will eventually damage the park and they are angered as those seeking the treasure do not have the authorisation to dig across the park.
Zinn said; “I think part of the fun of it, at least from Byron Preiss’s point of view, is he knows that people would have to sneak around to dig up these things, sort of like an Indiana Jones–type of thing,” He believes there is a possibility that the casque’s no longer exist, he said; “Unfortunately, we live in a different world today. I don’t know if I can make a case as to why we should be allowed to dig because I don’t know if that case really exists.”
Many people are still determined to find the casque’s despite the barriers. It has become a hobby and a passion to find these treasures, even though the gems that were hidden in the casque’s are thought to have been confiscated when the publishers went bankrupt. Whether you believe it be a gimmick or an extraordinary adventure, the hunt continues to find the remaining casque’s and solve the puzzle.