SAN FRANCISCO — In a lush, green corner of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Jeff Cross and his wife Sequoia are trying to find something that has been hidden for 36 years, CBS station KPIX-TV reports. "I drove down from Eureka to explicitly dig right here," Jeff Cross said, stabbing a piece of rebar at the sandy soil.
They aren’t the only ones who have come there hoping to find something underground.
In recent months, people from far and wide have been descending on San Francisco because of a book called "The Secret" published in 1982.
In it, late author Byron Preiss laid out clues for 12 buried treasures hidden in 12 North American cities. More specifically, it’s 12 casks, each one buried about four feet deep, each one containing a key that opens a safe deposit box containing one of 12 jewels.
As for those clues, they are spelled out in 12 verses with each verse having a corresponding image that functions like a coded map.
For 36 years, jewel hunters and puzzle lovers have been poring over the verses and images trying to find these jewels, and a lot of people are convinced that one of them sits somewhere in San Francisco.
"So this, I’m guessing, if this is right, this is the western end of the park," city Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg said while analyzing the alleged San Francisco image, a mysterious woman.
Ginsburg didn’t know too much about "The Secret" until searchers like the Crosses became the subject of a recent cable TV show.
"Then all of a sudden a bunch of other requests started coming in," Ginsburg said.
Now, people are digging all across the city from the Marina Green to Mount Davidson and spots all over Golden Gate Park.
"It’s been really fun to kind of go back in time and try and figure out what Golden Gate Park looked like 30 years ago, what was here, what wasn’t," Sequoia Cross said.
It is, of course, entirely possible that the stash was somehow swept away in what is, after all, an ever-changing park. Was it ever in the park? Maybe so. Maybe not.
A lot of people have looked at this a lot of different ways. The volume and complexity of the theories are as mind-blowing as the puzzle itself.
There is, however, a word of caution for anyone who thinks they’ve got all of this figured out.
"If you’re going to come to San Francisco and dig for treasure, yeah, ask first," Ginsburg said. "We’ll help you dig, but we want our treasure hunters to be escorted by our treasure rangers, folks who know things, say, about tree roots and irrigation lines."
As for the Crosses’ quixotic search, it was a lot of poking, a little digging and no cask.
They, like every San Francisco jewel hunter before them, left empty-handed.
Exactly where the verse and that mysterious woman are trying to lead them remains a very well-kept secret.