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RE: (TFT) Unicorn Gold

Saturday, 25 February 2006

Hi Everyone,

I was reading through "Treasure of Unicorn Gold," and I was wondering where the real unicorn was buried.

As you recall, the game was tied to a real-life treasure hunt that was sponsored by Metagaming. A real golden unicorn was buried by Metagaming, and clues to its location were in the Unicorn Gold game. Those who found the treasure would also be entitled to a $10,000 prize from Metagaming. However, the treasure was never officially found; Metagaming folded as a business; and Howard Thompson (the owner of Metagaming) vanished. All of this was over 20 years ago (ca. 1983).

Personally, I suspect that the golden unicorn was retrieved long ago. I suspect that it was recovered by Mr. Thompson or by a Metagaming employee as the company was folding. Or, perhaps someone else found the statue by piecing together the clues. (Perhaps that precipitated the demise of Metagaming?) Regardless, the statue was probably taken from its hiding place years ago.

Nevertheless, I am curious as to where it was buried. How often do we hear of buried treasure these days? The mystery has lingered for over 20 years. And, who knows: perhaps it is still wherever it was hidden.

So, here are some clues that I have come up with so far.

According to the preface of the game, the golden unicorn statue was hidden in a place that met the following criteria.

(1) in the U.S.

(2) on public land (It was clearly stated in the rules that the statue was *not* on private property. Therefore, it must have been hidden on public land.)

(3) in a physically safe place (It was clearly stated in the rules that the statue was in a place that was not dangerous to enter.)

(4) within 5 feet (up or down) from the surface of the earth.

As for the clues scattered throughout the game, one clue is repeated and stands out. Throughout the game, there are several references to a large, smoking mountain. One reference says that it is visibly glowing at the top (paragraph #220).

That would seem to imply a volcano. The only active volcanoes in the U.S. are in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

However, there are also references (#340 and 148) to a mountain on which a battle was fought in the clouds. Furthermore, the old man telling that tale had a "crutch" that looked like a rifle or a musket. Furthermore, the language he used reminded me a lot of the kinds of ballads that were sung around the time of the American Civil War. The lyrics to the song described a battle on a mountain in the clouds. All of that reminded me of an actual battle that took place in the American Civil War. It was the Battle of Lookout Mountain, which is also called "the Battle above the Clouds."

I did a Google search, and I confirmed there was such a battle. The Battle of Lookout Mountain took place on 24 November 1863 on a mountain (Lookout Mountain) that is outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was on a day when fog and clouds gathered low around the mountain --at and below the elevation where the battle took place. Hence, the battle was above the clouds. Lookout Mountain also meets the physical description that was given at paragraph 340 in the game. It is a mountain where a ridge comes to a towering point above a river valley. See http://ngeorgia.com/history/batc.html and http://ngeorgia.com/mountains/lookout_mountain.html

Now, if Lookout Mountain is the site referred to at paragraph #340 of the game, what is the "smoking mountain" that glows at the top? There are no active volcanoes in Tennessee and Georgia.

What else, besides a volcano, could be described as a "smoking mountain" that glowed at the top?

Perhaps the cooling tower at a nuclear plant? I live not far from a nuclear plant. The cooling tower at the plant gives off lots of steam. The top of the tower and the steam that it gives off seem to glow because of the lights at the cooling tower. Perhaps something similar was described in the game as a smoking mountain that visibly glowed at the top?

So, I did another Google search. I searched for "nuclear plant Chattanooga. It turns out that there *is* a nuclear plant in the area. It is called Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, and it is 18 miles north of Chattanooga. It is also located on the banks of the Chickamauga River, and it has two cooling towers. See http://www.tva.gov/sites/sequoyah.htm .

Those last two details are significant. In the game (paragraph 380 -- > paragraph 270 ), the physical location has four characteristics. (1) It is reached by crossing a small depression. (2) After crossing the depression, there is a rise. (3) The rise is next to a good sized river. (4) Across the river, there are two strange, unnatural" objects that rising above the trees. Could those two "strange, unnatural" objects be the two cooling towers of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, along the banks of the Chickamauga River?

Now, according to game's rules (in the preface), the golden statue was not located on private property. Hence, it must be on public property. Thus, to test this hypothesis, there must be some public land that is across the Chickamauga River from the two cooling towers of the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.

Well, after I did some looking on the internet via Google, I came across the following website: http://www2.una.edu/geography/tn_web/Recreation/ncjk_wtsbr.html As you can see in the middle of that webpage, there is a photograph that was taken from Skull Island Park. Skull Island Park is a public park, and it is directly across the Chickamauga River from the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant. In the photograph that was taken from Skull Island Park, the twin cooling towers of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant rise above the trees. The view in the photograph matches the description of the view from the rise that is at paragraph 270 of the game.

Moreover, the treasure in the game was probably located near that rise. Reading paragraph 270 and then paragraph 475 yields a little map at paragraph 475. On that map, there is a circular depression in the terrain; next to it is a rise; and next to the rise is a river. Thus, the map matches the description given at paragraph 270. (There is a similar map at paragraph 555.) Furthermore, the map at paragraph 475 also has an arrow on one side of the map, and there are numbers and references to trunks (tree trunks?) on the other side of the map. Finally, the text of paragraph 475 reads, what you seek is here. Therefore, the golden statue of a unicorn was probably buried at that rise: at the arrow and according to the references to tree trunks, as indicated on the map at paragraph 475.

SO: if anyone is in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, you might want to go to Skull Island Park (with a metal detector) to confirm this hypothesis. Use the map from the game at paragraph 475 (and perhaps at 555 too) to find the spot where the statue may have been buried. The references to tree trunks are over twenty years old, so they are probably useless. However, you may find something at the point of the arrow. You may find the statue of the golden unicorn. Or, you may find nothing or only an empty box. But, you may find signs that this was the site where the golden unicorn statue was hidden years ago.

If you do this, please take photos and share the results with the rest of us on this email list.

Good Gaming !

-- John
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