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2020 Treasure Hunt Clues Explained


The hunt began in ’83
but due to a long hiatus,
this will be our thirtieth year.
Enjoy the game that awaits us!

The Rose Festival Treasure Hunt was inspired by the Pioneer Press/Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It ran from 1983 to 2005, and was revived in 2014.


Two great circles contain a lot,
each represent a place.
One has something the walrus said,
the other, just a face.
The former is where you should search,
the latter you erase.

This clue is designed to match the stanza structure and rhyme scheme of Lewis Carroll’s poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. The two great circles are the Great Seals of the states of Oregon and Washington. One of the most famous stanzas in the poem is the following:
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax –
Of cabbages — and kings –
And why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.
Oregon’s great seal depicts two ships, along with many other items. Washington’s great seal is the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. This clue tells you to search in Oregon, thus eliminating Clark county.


John sold some land he didn’t own,
and it became a city
that lasted for just 20 years.
Its name helps, if you’re witty.

James B. Stephens, an early Portland area settler, purchased property that was being offered by Dr. John McLoughlin, the Hudson’s Bay Company agent. Dr. McLoughlin was acting as administrator of the estate of a Mr. A. Davids, who had originally claimed the land. James Stephens paid $200 for the for the area between what is now Stark and Division, and from the Willamette River east to 20th Street. He began laying out lots and selling them, and by 1871 the area was incorporated as the city of East Portland. However, in 1891 the residents of East Portland, along with the city of Albina, overwhelmingly voted for consolidation with the city of Portland. The city’s name is the clue, telling you to look on the east side, and eliminating Yamhill and Washington counties.


These three share a birthday.
Same month, same day, same year.
Cut them from contention,
and you’ll be in the clear.

Clackamas, Yamhill, and Washington counties were all created on July 5, 1843. Two of these have already been eliminated, so cutting Clackamas County leaves you with Multnomah County as the hiding place of the medallion.


The commander-in-chief was his friend.
Could that really have been the connection
to a ruling by the highest court?
He faces the right general direction.

This clue is all about Joseph Wood Hill, the founder of Hill Military Academy in Portland. William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, was a Yale classmate of Hill and a lifelong friend. Taft was also the tenth chief justice of the Supreme Court, the only person to have held both positions.

In 1922 Oregon voters passed an initiative aimed at shutting down parochial schools. It would also have shut down private schools such as Hill Military Academy. Because of this, both the Academy and the Society of Sisters sued the governor of Oregon and other state officials. They both won their cases in Oregon District Court. However, the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court, and in a 1925 decision over which Taft presided, the court upheld the lower court’s decision.

At the top of Rocky Butte is Joseph Wood Hill Park. In the park there is a metal plaque with his image. While it does not face directly at the treasure, it does face to the west, indicating the search area is west of Rocky Butte.


From first to second there’s one.
From second to third there’s another.
Search north of it and have fun
Don’t search south if you have your druthers.

This clue is a baseball reference, with the lines between the bases being called, of course, baselines. Baseline is a hint pointing to the one in the Willamette Meridian System, the rectangular survey system that is the basis for land titles and boundaries in the Northwest. The baseline runs along Stark St., making that the southern boundary of the search area.


When things are getting better
this phrase you may sometimes say.
If you are a go-getter,
you’ll search for the prize that way.

When things are improving, a phrase often used is “Things are looking up!” This clue tells you to look up when searching for the prize, since it is slightly above eye level.


One from a myna’s family.
One in a millennium squared.
Both were shot near the treasure.
A first for Portland when they paired.

A myna is a bird of the starling family. Starling is a reference to Clarice Starling in the movie The Silence of the Lambs, played by Jodie Foster. A millennium is a thousand years, and a thousand years squared is one million years. Raquel Welch starred in the movie One Million Years B.C. They came together in the 1972 movie Kansas City Bomber, the first major studio movie shot entirely in Portland and the surrounding area. (You’ll see shots of the Gorge.) Jodie Foster played Raquel Welch’s daughter. Many scenes were shot in the Kenton neighborhood and at the Expo Center, close to Delta Park where the medallion was hidden.


The father of us
helps in the game.
Something impels us
to seek his name.

In the first line, read the word “us” as U.S., or United States. George Washington is called the father of our country. A synonym of “impel” is force. In 1850, George Washington Force had the original Donation Land Claim on 625 acres that included the Expo Center and East Delta Park.

CLUE #10

From Jimmy Rob
to Billy Ray,
these good old boys
are all in play.

These four names refer to four men who each have a field or area in Delta Park named after them. Jim Walker, Rob Strasser, William V. Owens, and Ray DeMarini. Each of these has their own story to tell, so look up their histories on-line.

CLUE #11

A day times two
aids in your quest,
but it’s a myth
that’s laid to rest.

Another way of saying “a day times two” would be double day. Abner Doubleday was a general in the Union army, a civil war hero and the man who for almost a century was generally recognized as the man who invented baseball. However, the “Doubleday myth” has been universally discredited. Even so, a great many people still believe it. This clue is intended to lead you to the baseball fields in Delta Park.

CLUE #12

Many of you went through
a change in mathematics.
When you find its meaning,
you’ll do acrobatics.

In math, the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, which is delta, is often used to mean “change”, or “a change in”. This points searchers toward Delta Park.

CLUE #13

When staring at a picket fence
or some bed posts you will see
there’s no shot at a flawless game,
but between two you’ll find me.

This clue contains bowling terms. A picket fence is a spare with the 1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10 pins remaining. Bed posts are a 7-10 split. In either case, you would no longer have a chance at a “flawless” or perfect game, which is a score of 300. The medallion was hidden on top of the outfield fence between two signs which both read “300″.

CLUE #14

Being indecisive
is usually not good,
but if you now are neutral
you’ll be sitting where you should.

Being indecisive or neutral are both synonyms for the term “sitting on the fence”. The medallion was hidden on top of the outfield fence of the William V. Owens sports complex. It was just inside the end of the yellow plastic tube on top of the fence between the two 300 foot markers at the northernmost point.
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