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Utah Man Gets Prison Time for Digging Up Yellowstone Cemetery in Pursuit of Forrest Fen Treasure

Forrest Fenn Treasure

The Forrest Fenn treasure was NOT in a Yellowstone cemetery.

A Utah man has received six months of prison time, six months of home detention and will be forced to pay $31,566 in restitution after the National Park Service says he dug up a cemetery in Yellowstone in pursuit of treasure.

Authorities say 52-year-old Rodrick Dow Craythorn was caught digging in Fort Yellowstone cemetery in the later part of 2019 and early 2020 while searching for the Forrest Fenn treasure. The notorious treasure, rumored to be worth millions, was hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains back in 2010 by New Mexico art dealer Forrest Fenn. Fenn left a 24-word poem in the back of his memoir "The Thrill of the Hunt" that allegedly had clues to find the treasure.

The National Park Service discovered that Craythorn had started at least 17 illegal excavations in the cemetery, which is considered a historic, archeological site. In at least one of those digs, Rangers say Craythorn damaged a grave of historical importance.

The graveyard itself dates to when Yellowstone was first established as a National Park. The U.S. Army was first stationed there in 1886 to protect the wildlife and unique natural features of the park. The cemetery was established in 1888, and the Army occupied the area until 1918. Authorities say at least 54 people are buried in the cemetery.

We know for certain the Forrest Fen treasure, which was allegedly made up of gold and jewels hidden in a bronze chest, was not in the Yellowstone cemetery. Coincidentally, the 10-year search came to an end in June 2020 when medical student and Michigan resident Jack Stuef finally found the treasure somewhere else in Wyoming.

The final location of the treasure was kept secret both by Stuef, and by Fen, who died shortly after the treasure was found. The Yellowstone cemetery incident was not the first time the treasure came under scrutiny. The only clues seekers had were that the treasure was over 5,000 feet in elevation and was somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, which covers an area running as far South as New Mexico and as far North as Montana.

At least five people lost their lives trying to find the treasure in the decade it was hidden. Treasure or no treasure, U.S. Attorney Bob Murray, who sentenced Craythorn, cited that such hunts have no place in a National Park.

"Yellowstone is one of the country's most popular National Parks and we must do everything in our power to investigate and prosecute those who damage and destroy its natural and cultural resources," Murray said in a press release. "A National Park is no place to stage an adult treasure hunt motivated by greed. The harmful actions of Mr. Craythorn, no matter the reason or intent, destroyed valuable archeological resources that cannot be undone."

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

NEXT: THE AXIS DEER AND HOW THEY'RE IMPACTING PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES

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Utah Man Gets Prison Time for Digging Up Yellowstone Cemetery in Pursuit of Forrest Fen Treasure