Utah man pleads guilty to digging in Yellowstone cemetery in search of treasure

Cheyenne, Wyoming - A man from Utah has pleaded guilty after being caught digging in a Yellowstone National Park cemetery in search of hidden treasure.

Craythorn caused more than $1,000 in damage by digging in the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery.
Craythorn caused more than $1,000 in damage by digging in the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery.  © Yellowstone National Park/Facebook/Screenshot

Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Syracuse, Utah, entered the plea January 4, admitting to illegally excavating or trafficking in archaeological resources and to damaging federal property, a news release from the US Department of Justice District of Wyoming said.

Craythorn caused more than $1,000 in damage by digging in the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery between October 1, 2019, and May 24, 2020, authorities said.

The Utah man was looking for a treasure containing gold and other valuables estimated to be worth at least $1 million, left a decade ago by Forrest Fenn, who was an art and antiquities dealer from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Fenn published a memoir with a poem which offered clues to where he hid his treasure.

If sentenced March 17, Craythorn could face up to 12 years in prison and $270,000 in fines.

Hunt for mysterious treasure cost six people their lives

The mountains at Yellowstone National Park.
The mountains at Yellowstone National Park.  © imago images / agefotostock

"The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case it led to substantial damage to important public resources," Wyoming US Attorney Mark Klaassen said Tuesday.

Fenn died at age 90 last September. A medical student from Michigan found the treasure three months before his death.

For years, Fenn hinted the treasure was north of Santa Fe somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Since the hunt began in 2010, many thousands of searchers had gone out in pursuit, with as many as six of them losing their lives in the process.

Cover photo: Yellowstone National Park/Facebook/Screenshot

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