The Great Twin Cities Treasure Hunt — CLUES EXPLAINED
#1
INTRODUCTION
  • In the first stanza of the intro, we announce this years hunt while congratulating last year's winners.
  • In the second stanza, we recall last year's red herring—which left many feeling "burned"—and alert hunters to "another fiendish scheme" (that being the introduction of this year's "goose chase"—a serpentine path intended to lead one faithful hunter or team right to the hiding place).
  • In the third stanza, we encourage hunters to "get in on the fun" by looking for our jewel.
  • The word "burned" could be taken to suggest the old Milwaukee Road Short Line railroad bridge, which was damaged by fire in 2006—and is one of our "two bridges in view" from Clue #5.

CLUE #1
  • Our first clue this year is dedicated to longtime treasure hunters and recently engaged couple Brad TeGantvoort and Jana Armstead (a/k/a "Cluemaster" and "Me2"); the first letters of each line spell out their first names. — Read Brad and Jana's adorable story at TwinCities.com
  • "sound," "song," "hum," "sing," and "Ballad" are meant to suggest our longshot for the hunt: A small speaker in a locker at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, which, when activated, would play the instrumental song "Milk Serenade" (from the soundtrack of the 1974 Spaghetti Western film Carambola), the title of which anagrams to "Meeker Island"—this year's hiding place.

CLUE #2
  • "nestled in the snow" is meant to suggest a small mound of snow, which covered the prize.
  • "in the wood" is meant to suggest a hollowed-out cedar stump puzzle box (designed and built by Desmond Baker of Butterwood Studios), which concealed the jewel. It could also be taken to suggest searching a wooded area, off "the beaten path".
  • "You'd be forgiven for being driven to think we might be bluffin', / And end up on a wild-goose chase in search of our MacGuffin" is intended to introduce this year's "goose chase" hunt-within-a-hunt.
  • "hidden" and "MacGuffin" are intended to suggest the first stop on our goose chase: Hidden Falls Regional Park—specifically the entrance near Magoffin Avenue, where we hung a "Lost Dog" poster with Bonus Clue #1 on it.

CLUE #3
  • "On a scale from one to ten, this [treasure] would rate about a five" is meant to suggest Moh's scale of mineral hardness—on which a five is defined by apatite (an emerald-green mineral). This, in turn, was intended to reflect the green color of this year's jewel, and its location at the southern end of Emerald Street, which itself defines the Minneapolis-Saint Paul line (upon which the jewel was hidden).
  • Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park is home to two "picnic" tables, and three benches—a "nearby triptych" of "place[s] to sit."
  • "picnic" could also be taken to suggest the 1953 Broadway production of the same name, which launched the acting career of local boy Ralph Rathgeber—better known by his stage name, Ralph Meeker.

CLUE #4
  • "Our estimate is rough at best—we ask for latitude, please; / The rock is at a mark that measures forty-five degrees." is meant to suggest hunters search near the base of a tree tilted at approximately 45 degrees (a bit closer to 40, in actuality), near which our false stump was buried in the snow, beneath a small flat rock.
  • "a strong featherweight" anagrams to "the gathering of waters," which is meant to encourage hunting along the Mississippi River.
  • "hidden item" is meant to suggest hiddenite—an emerald-green mineral—and, in turn, looking for our "emerald" near another: Emerald Street, on the Minneapolis-Saint Paul line.
  • "hop from park to park to park—to park, ad infinitum" is meant to suggest that hunters who find themselves on our goose chase will need to do some park-hopping, and likely a fair amount of parking. It could also be taken to suggest two nearby areas without parking restrictions—East River Terrace, and Otis Avenue, off of Eustis Street—or the nearby spur of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds system, which connects many Minneapolis parks in an unending loop. It could additionally be taken to suggest the jewel being situated in a city park (Meeker Island) within a regional park (Mississippi Gorge) within a national park (Mississippi National River).
  • "at best—we ask" anagrams to "wastebasket." While Meeker Island Park does have a lone trash can—found on the path to the jewel—this was not done intentionally, and had to be pointed out by hunt winner Steven Sanftner.

CLUE #5
  • "the significance of triple ones and eights" is intended to suggest hunters search in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a national park dedicated on November 18, 1988 (or 11/18/88), making it "the youngest of five of its kind" (its kind being National Rivers). 
  • "ever-stricter area" anagrams to "East River Terrace"—a road to the east of the jewel.
  • "Two bridges in view, and skyscrapers too, from where we left the find" is meant to suggest the Marshall-Lake Street and Short Line bridges, and a tiny glimpse of downtown Minneapolis, visible from the jewel's hiding place in Meeker Island Park.
  • "A treasure hidden in plain sight" refers literally to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, and is meant to suggest hunters search the Mississippi River plain. It could also be taken to suggest Hidden Falls Regional Park (the first stop on our goose chase, and the site of Bonus Clue #1), or even Emerald Street, which terminates at the jewel's hiding place. 

CLUE #6
  • This clue is intended to suggest Team USA's 2018 Olympic curling teams—both of which are comprised largely of competitors from Minnesota. In a remarkable turn, the men's team did in fact end up taking home the gold—their first ever in the event—one week after this clue was published, making it particularly prescient. (The clue could also be taken slightly less literally to suggest the U.S. women's hockey team, which also claimed gold in Pyeongchang—and also contains a large contingent of Minnesota-based players.)
  • "navigate and judge the territory" is also meant to suggest two people important to the history of the Minnesota Territory: Joseph Nicollet, who mapped the upper Mississippi river using modern techniques still in place to this day; and Bradley B. Meeker, who served as a judge on the Minnesota Territorial supreme court, and owned a good deal of Twin Cities land on the Mississippi River (including the now-inundated island that boasts his name, upstream from the dam site).
  • "upon a rink" anagrams to "Union Park"—the community that contains the Saint Paul portion of (and the entrance to) Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park.

CLUE #7
  • "A mystique of history" is meant to suggest the historic nature of Meeker Island Lock and Dam—and its place on the National Register of Historic Places (to which it was added in 2003).
  • "permeates the trails" is meant to suggest the old wagon road trail that zig-zags into the park; it was repaved with permeable pavers when the park was reclaimed and opened in 2007.
  • "hallmark ales" anagrams to "Marshall Lake," which is meant to suggest the Marshall-Lake Street Bridge—one of the "two bridges in view" from Clue #5.
  • "mapmaker writers" anagrams to "Merriam Park West," the neighborhood that contains the Saint Paul portion of (and the entrance to) Meeker Island Park.
  • "span" is meant to reiterate that hunters look for two bridges from the hiding place—particularly the Marshall-Lake Street bridge, with its massive, 555-foot arch.
  • The (pseudo-)Italian phrase "frutti di cosmo" translates roughly to "fruit of the stars"—or "starfruit," which, translated back into Italian, yields "carambola." "Manna" (a miraculous fruit of the heavens) is intended to suggest the importance of the word: Carambola is the title of a Spaghetti Western film which contains on its soundtrack a song with the title "Milk Serenade" (an anagram for "Meeker Island")—our longshot for the hunt.

CLUE #8
  • "The prize is yours if you just put the legwork in to find it" is meant to suggest not just the "goose chase" hunt-within-a-hunt, but also a "near-isoceles" triangle formed from a pair of trees that mark the jewel's hiding place. Similarly, "To give yourself an edge" reflects not just the edge a hunter on our goose chase would have over others—but also the edges of the triangle formed from the two trees that marked the spot.
  • "find our tune and name it" is meant to suggest the longshot for the hunt: A small speaker in a locker at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory (the third stop on our goose chase), which was set to play for its finder the instrumental song "Milk Serenade." The finder would need to know the title of the obscure, wordless tune—or, more likely, use a smartphone to determine its title—in order to move forward to its anagram: "Meeker Island."
  • "Though never chart toppers, for local track poppers, they still knew how to please; To keep this hunt burning, you'll probably want to learn some Algrenese." is meant to suggest the now-defunct local band City On The Make—who adopted their name from the title of a famous essay by Nelson Algren. The album art for their third and final album "Keep This On Fire" depicts the 2006 burning of the Short Line Bridge (one of the "two bridges in view" from Clue #5).
  • "track poppers" anagrams to "Prospect Park," the neighborhood home to Minneapolis' portion of Meeker Island Park.

CLUE #9
  • "stump" is meant to suggest the hollowed out cedar stump puzzle box that concealed the jewel.
  • "a dreary-spoken chump / Accused of colluding to hide his canoodling" is a certain local radio personality whose name will remain herein unspoken. "the office he disgraced"—the Prairie Home Productions studio and "tower" on Frontenac Place—sits just up the hill from the hiding place.
  • "dreary-spoken" anagrams to "Desnoyer Park"—the small neighborhood within Merriam Park West and in turn Union Park, that houses the Saint Paul portion of (and the entrance to) Meeker Island Park.
  • "Oh by the way, has anyone seen our dog? He's been misplaced." is meant to suggest the "Lost Dog" poster at the first stop on our goose chase, near the entrance to Hidden Falls Regional Park; as well as a small wolf cub figurine, hidden in a pouch with a key and Bonus Clue #2, near Berger Fountain at Loring Park in Minneapolis (the second stop on our "goose chase" hunt-within-a-hunt).

CLUE #10
  • This clue recounts the "bloody tale" of Mary Fridley (granddaughter of the Minneapolis suburb's namesake), who was murdered for her inheritance by would-be husband Frederick Price in 1914, not far from the site of our jewel's hiding place. — Learn more about the whole sordid Fridley-Price ordeal at Forgotten Minnesota.
  • "fix your motor" is meant to suggest Desnoyer Park—the "'hood" where the late Robert Pirsig lived when he wrote his best-selling book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
  • "gorgeous view" is meant to suggest the Mississippi River gorge, and Mississippi Gorge Regional Park, which houses Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park.
  • "rail" is meant to suggest the Short Line railroad bridge.
  • "borderline sight" anagrams to "Short Line Bridge."

CLUE #11 (Unpublished)
  • This clue is largely dedicated to the "goose chase" hunt-within-a-hunt that would have sent hunters on a three-stop tour through both cities and three parks before taking them to the jewel at Meeker Island Park.
  • "The jewel's still hidden—Go and rip a tag off of the poster!" tells hunters to go to Hidden Falls Regional Park in Saint Paul to find our "Lost Dog" poster with Bonus Clue #1.
  • "Don't get caught snoring; heed our imploring—Find the secret stash!" tells hunters to head from Hidden Falls to Loring Park, where, taken together with Bonus Clue #1, they would be directed to a small, black pouch, buried in the snow at the bottom of a large evergreen tree near Berger Fountain, on the park's Eastern edge. Inside the "stash" was Bonus Clue #2, a small wolf cub figurine, a polar bear keychain with a small key marked "34," and three quarters (ostensibly for parking, but also the exact price of a locker rental at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul).
  • "Then take the fob and locomote—Unlock our musical cache!" tells hunters to head from Loring Park to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Combined with Bonus Clue #2, the finder would be instructed to go to the visitor center, then find and unlock a door to uncover our "Milk Serenade" longshot.
  • "Double-check your map" instructs the longshot finder to use a minimal map included with the "Milk Serenade" speaker to pinpoint the park.
  • "follow the river to follow the story" is meant to suggest an orange sign advertising the National Park Service's "Ranger On Call" phone-guided tour, found at the entrance to Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park.
  • "trestle remade" anagrams to "Emerald Street," and could also be taken to suggest either of the "two bridges in view" (both of which have been rebuilt).
  • "jade" is meant to suggest the green color of this year's jewel, as well as its location on a line from the southern terminus of Emerald Street.

CLUE #12 (Unpublished)
  • This clue recounts some of the history of Meeker Island Lock and Dam, while pinpointing the jewel's location within the park.
  • "'Tis" and "'tis" are meant to suggest Otis Avenue and Eustis Street, which intersect a block east of the entrance to Meeker Island Park.
  • "a beaver's snack" is meant to suggest three gnawed-off saplings, which surrounded our puzzle box in a triad, just to the east of our tree tilted at "forty-five degrees".
  • "Superposed in a quantum state of city, region, and nation" is meant to suggest the jewel's location on the line—in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul—as well as its situation within Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park, itself within Mississippi Gorge Regional Park, itself in turn within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
  • "meanders like," "Milk Serenade," and "emerald skein" all anagram to "Meeker Island."

BONUS CLUE #1
(at Hidden Falls Regional Park, on a "Lost Dog" poster, hung on a lamp post near the Magoffin Avenue entrance)
  • "LOST DOG: REWARD IF FOUND (We're not exactly sure what kind of hound)." is meant to suggest a small wolf cub figurine from the Como Park Zoo gift shop, hidden with Bonus Clue #2 at Loring Park in Minneapolis.
  • "LAST SEEN 'cross the river" is meant to suggest the hunter continue their goose chase across the river.
  • "by a hexagon, / Exploring a tree near a dandelion" is meant to suggest a large evergreen tree near Berger Fountain—which looks like a giant dandelion, and has a series of cascading, hexagonal pools.

BONUS CLUE #2
(at Loring Park, inside a pouch hidden in the snow, with a small wolf cub figurine, three quarters, and a key marked "34" on a polar bear keychain)
  • "if you wish to claim the sum: / Take this key—'tween ten and four—Back to St. Paul and find its door." directs the finder back to Saint Paul, to a location open from 10:00 to 4:00, and that would make sense in light of the other items with which the clue was hidden. It also informs the finder that the longshot waits behind a locked door at the next location: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.
  • "chum" was the name of Mary Fridley's dog (See Clue #10).

LONGSHOT
(at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory visitor center, inside locker #34)
  • Inside the locker was a Zoo gift shop bag containing a small speaker and the instructions "Turn ON, press PLAY." When activated, the speaker would play the instrumental song "Milk Serenade" from the soundtrack of the 1974 Spaghetti Western film Carambola; the finder would either need to know the name of the obscure tune or use a smartphone to determine its title, which anagrams to "Meeker Island," the hiding place for the hunt.
  • Hidden with the speaker was a tiny, minimal "map," consisting only of four small circles, intended to represent each of Hidden Falls, Loring, Como, and—at the exact center of the triangle they form—Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park.
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