Treasure hunter dug through Yellowstone cemetery looking for famous bounty, feds say

Maddie Capron
·2 min read

A treasure seeker was caught digging in a historic cemetery in Yellowstone National Park, the Department of Justice said.

The 52-year-old Utah man was caught digging in Fort Yellowstone Cemetery between Oct. 1, 2019, and May 24, 2020, a Thursday news release from the park said.

“Roderick Dow Craythorn was indicted on September 16, 2020 on charges of excavating or trafficking in archaeological resources and injury or depredation to United States property,” the Department of Justice wrote.

Craythorn was allegedly seeking the coveted Forrest Fenn treasure, which has sent thousands of people searching. Some have even died in pursuit of the treasure.

“Forrest Fenn, an art dealer and author from Santa Fe, hid a treasure chest containing gold, rare coins, jewelry, and gemstones somewhere in the Rocky Mountains,” the Department of Justice said. “The Fenn treasure spurred a decade-long search.”

In January, another treasure hunter needed rescue after rappelling into the 800- to 1,200-feet-deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to find the Fenn treasure, McClatchy News reported. He got stuck and couldn’t climb back up the canyon.

Last year, a Montana sheriff warned treasure hunters that it may not be safe to continue their searches.

“In the last couple years, two people have died, two have been rescued near death, several have had run-ins with local and federal law enforcement, and one told his wife today he was injured but not where he was,” the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook. “The common denominator is that these people were all near Yellowstone National Park and they were all looking for the Forrest Fenn treasure.”

The collection of gold, rubies and more was finally found this summer in the Rocky Mountains, CNN reported.

“It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago,” Fenn wrote in his announcement, according to CNN. “I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot.”

Craythorn entered a not guilty plea on both counts when he first appeared in federal court Thursday, the Department of Justice said. His trial is set for Dec. 14.