Saturday, December 12, 2015

Milwaukee Treasure Hunt

Back in 1982, The Secret was published, and a treasure hunt began across North America for keys hidden in ornate boxes in public spaces.  The keys were meant to be traded for gems from the author. Unfortunately only 2 of 12 treasures were ever found before the author was killed in a car crash.

There have been a few articles written about the treasures, called the Byron Preiss treasures.  Urban Milwaukee did a feature in 2013. Probably the most complete place to search for information might be at Wiki, where it's called The Secret (a treasure hunt).  The page is being updated, and if you find clues you can add to what is there. The book is no longer in print and our library system doesn't have a copy, but what you need is on the Wiki page. Here's the painting that they believe is a clue to the Milwaukee treasure, and you can find a poem which goes along with it.. The symbolism has been somewhat decoded at the wiki page, though I disagree with some of it.  The castle= city hall. The balls look like lawn bowling balls (though they say golf), mill stone (there is one at the ravine), and the cloak has what appears to be a birch grove. Inside the box is a key, so therefore a picture of a key.  This led some people to believe the treasure was buried in Lake Park somewhere.

I had never heard about the treasures until I was contacted by a Milwaukee resident this summer who was looking for information about Lake Park. He asked about a grove of birch that might have been standing more than 30 years ago.  Unfortunately, birch don't tend to live very long and there is no indication of a birch grove now. I didn't think too much about it until I came across a photo last week at the Milwaukee County Historical Society.  They have boxes of old photos from every nook of Milwaukee. You have to pay $5 to use the research library, located upstairs.  If you find something you'd like to have copied, it's 25 cents.  Here's the photo I had copied.

None of the bridges look exactly like this anymore.  It was a photo taken by an instructor at UWM during the 70s, and those clearly are birch trees.  I went to Bridgehunter and discovered that this is the footbridge over the ravine- north of Lake Park Bistro.  That's a great website with photos of nearly every bridge over time.  You can waste a lot of time there if you're looking for something to do this winter.  Ha!

So now it appears the clues have indeed led us to a specific place in Lake Park.  The question remains whether anyone will find it.  If you do, I'd love to hear about it!
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