The Holy Grail of Saint Paul

Six medallion hunters talk about the year they found fortune

We were in college at Mankato State at the time. We didn't have any classes Friday, so we came up on Thursday. We knew from the previous clues it was at Phalen. They got down to the last clue and it was a beautiful Saturday morning. There were still two papers in those days; the Dispatch came out at 10:30.

In those days, there were no cell phones or [medallion] internet [blogs], so you had to go to the paper and get the clue. Jim and Todd went and got a paper, and Mike and I stayed in the park. I saw Mike and Todd running across Phalen Lake, pretty much ahead of everybody else with the first [copy of the] paper.

They handed it to me, and I read the clue. It talked about "13 paces northeast from the number 13 pole." And in that instant, everybody knows the clue, but they all went to the wrong pole, because the numbers had been pulled off the pole.

Bill Kelley

Jim and Todd had gone off and collapsed somewhere, and I said to Mike, "They're going to the wrong pole." I backed my back up to the pole and lined it up northeast, took what I thought was 13 paces, and knelt down. There was only about two inches of snow. I pushed it back, and it was right there.

A couple of people jumped on my back, but I was 21 years old and I just got up and ran. It was $2,500 at that time, which doesn't sound like a lot of money, but we split it four ways and my share paid for two quarters of tuition at Mankato State. It was good, because my financial well was pretty dry at that time.


Bill Gough
found at Irvine Park
I was 21, a student at Macalester, and a friend of mine and I had been planning on going to a park that night to look for the medallion. I was between classes and I saw the morning clue and I thought, "What the heck, I'm gonna get in the car and go look around anyway."

I had been looking for it since I was a kid, but this was my first time out that year. I wasn't down there more than 15 minutes when I saw a little piece of litter, a bit of cardboard sticking above the snow pack. I reached down and it felt heavy. It was an Eric cigar box. I opened it up and inside, in plastic, was the original bronze medallion.

It was dumb luck. There might have been about 10 or 15 other people there at the time. I saw that thing and my heart just raced. I ran to my car and I wasn't sure what to do--celebrate by myself or take it to the paper or what. I was working part-time downtown at the St. Paul Public Library at the time, and I went into the library, into the reference room, and showed the librarians. I thought they'd get a kick out of it; they were all pretty excited. I just flashed it in front of them.

The paper gave me $1,000 and the Winter Carnival Association was supposed to supplement that with $1,500 if I had a registered [Winter Carnival] button. So I went over to get the check, and they said I hadn't registered on time. Evidently, it was a day late, so that mistake cost me $1,500. I was a pretty lazy college student at the time and I just didn't pay attention to deadlines as closely as I should have.

I have to admit, I go out looking every year. Once the bug bites you, it's hard to let go. I'm more of an armchair hunter now, but my son, who just graduated from the U and has a job in Michigan right now, comes back and looks for it. And I've got two boys who are 14, and they're nuts for it, and we all go out. The most fun about it is, you get out there and see all these people with blank looks on their faces, with shovels,'s just humorous. People are crazy.


Cookie Howard
found at Battle Creek Park
I found it with my friends, Rachel Olson and Kay Anderson. Actually, Rachel is the one who picked it up. Every year we go over the clues. In those days, everything was simpler. Everything is so complicated now. I wasn't doing anything in 1995. I was retired. In my day, you worked until you got pregnant and you stayed home and raised your family. It's just totally different now.

We went over the clues and figured out B-A-T-T-L-E, and the next day we went to Byerly's and walked around and had a few [food] samples and drove out to Battle Creek. And that was it. It was in the cards. It was fate.

Everyone is so friendly during the treasure hunt. Kay and I were visiting with this really friendly man when Rachel motioned and yelled for us to take a little walk someplace. As soon as we got up close to her, she said, "I've got it." And we said, "Yeah, right."

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