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Treasure Hunters May Be Closing In On Prize In Golden Gate Park

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- In San Francisco's Golden Gate Park there has been a bizarre twist in a treasure hunt that's been unfolding for nearly forty years.

It all started with a book called The Secret, published back in 1982. In it, late author Byron Preiss laid out clues for 12 buried treasures hidden in 12 North American cities. More specifically, 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.

One of them has long been thought to be in San Francisco, and someone just found … something.

The casks are supposed to be revealed with a poem and a corresponding image that works like a coded map. There are endless details and various interpretations of the clues but a lot of people have taken them and landed in Golden Gate Park.

The park is where this reporter watched one cask hunter dig unsuccessfully last April, but just last week, someone - not far from that same spot - actually pulled something out of the ground.

"A gentleman who flew in from France, in search of this cask, claimed to have discovered a cask that he thought met the description in the book," said Sarah Madland with San Francisco Rec & Park. "It had pictures, and he thought maybe he had found a key."

Only this cask, apparently, did not hold the key. "The family and the artist who participated in the original cask making claim this is a fake and not actually the real thing," Madland explained.

The original artist who created the casks and the Preiss family examined the find and provided an image of replica of the original to prove the forgery. So far, there is no answer as to who placed the fake cask, why, or when.

KPIX has learned that several professional treasure hunters are investigating the San Francisco portion of "The Secret" hunt. One of them says he knows, for certain, where it is buried.

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