Secrets Revealed! The riddles from the hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg explained

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My Easter Egg has been found! After 29 days of treasure hunting, “The Night Owls” located the egg and claimed the $1,500 prize. Congratulations!

Warning Spoilers Ahead!

Several players requested an explanation of the various riddles. I have provided them below. Stop reading here if you are still trying to solve the Easter Egg Treasure Hunt for the secondary prizes of 3D printed Extra Life medallions and wooden nickel Adventure Tokens.

Week 1: The hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg begins!

Week 1a Riddle

Engraved on cotton is a Roman test 
where Washington has long been a guest.


“Engraved on cotton” refers to US currency. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, US paper currency is 75% cotton and 25% linen. Before this special paper can be used to print new bills, the image to be printed must first be engraved onto soft steel plates by hand.

Now that we are talking about money, the question becomes which bill. “Where Washington has long been a guest” answers that question. George Washington first appeared on the $1 bill in 1869. Because the $1 note is rarely counterfeited, the government has no plans to redesign this note.  A recurring provision in Section 116 of the annual Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act prohibits redesigning the $1 note, so Washington is not going anywhere.

That leaves “is a Roman test.” On the back of the bill, there’s a pyramid. On its bottom step are a series of Roman numerals. MDCCLXXVI. They represent the number 1776.

Week 1b Poem

Opposite the ruins of lime fire
find the foundations of old Billmeyer.
A marker awaits southeast of white cliff 
within sight of a black X hieroglyph.

Solution: Forested ruins just below the White Cliffs of Conoy at 40° 4′ 18.14″ N, 76° 39′ 4.59″ W

“Southeast of white cliff” refers to the White Cliffs of Conoy. The white cliffs are not natural. They are actually composed of the by­product from years of operations at a nearby limestone and dolomite quarry. The limestone was used in agricultural applications, while the dolomite aided in removing impurities from metal produced by local foundries and in the repair of iron furnaces during World War I.

“Find the foundations of old Billmeyer.” Just past the White Cliffs of Conoy once stood the old company town of Billmeyer. When John E. Baker assumed ownership of the previously mentioned quarry in 1894, he recognized a need to establish a community for the men and women who labored there. As a result, the village of Billmeyer was founded on the riverside of the railroad tracks, and within it, people from diverse backgrounds were brought together by their common labor. The village hosted its own general store, church, and school by fulfilling the basic needs of its community members. However, by the mid-1900s, as the quarry operations diminished, so too did the small village of Billmeyer, which its operation had sustained.

Old lime kilns are across from one section of the disappearing town’s foundations. The line—Opposite the ruins of lime fire—helps to indicate further that you are looking in the correct area.

Finally, the line “within sight of a black X hieroglyph” tells you exactly where to look. If you are in the correct area, there is a sign with a large X on it. The marker was approximately 35 feet in the woods from the sign. The sign is visible on Google Street View.

Week 2: The hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg continues!

Week 2a Riddle

beyond a fortress tragic
lies a king, frozen without magic.
kneel before his mighty altar
to find a man whose grammar never faltered. 

Solution: LindleyMurray

“Beyond a fortress tragic” refers to the Lancaster County Prison. A Google image search for “fortress Lancaster Pa” highlights two pictures of the jailhouse in the first row. While the following line of “lies a king, frozen without magic” indicates the lion statue 1,000 feet to the East in Reservoir Park. Blanche Nevin sculpted this king of the jungle and dedicated it to her feather, Franklin & Marshall College’s second president, John Williamson Nevin.

If you kneel in front of the statue, you will find a series of plaques with various names. You can see the plaques on the above Google Street View, except they are ineligible. One of them is Lindley Murray. According to Wikipedia, Murray was an American Quaker lawyer, writer, and grammarian, best known for his English language grammar books.

Week 2b Poem

Honor Theo for the birds he admires
Where Stewart can run but never tires.
A marker amid ancient rocky banks
Found beneath a bridge of wooden planks.

Solution: Theodore A. Parker III Natural Area at 39° 51′ 34.88″ N, 76° 7′ 14.56″ W

Theodore A. Parker III Natural Area is named after the late Theodore A. Parker III, an internationally known ornithologist from Lancaster County. A simple Google search of “Theo birds Lancaster, PA” returns this county park on the first page. In addition, the small creek that winds its way through the park is called Stewart Run—a stream “can run but never tires.”

The marker was hidden under a small wooden footbridge easily accessible from the lower parking lot.

Week 3: The Hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg is now afoot!

Week 3a Riddle

Solution: Kirk

There was a lot of online chatter about how the map worked into the treasure hunt. Everyone found out in Week 3. The clue of “follow three ♀️♀️♀️ upstream to a misplaced mill” had you looking for a specific mill on the map.

If you think about other words for a woman or that refer to a woman, you eventually come up with her or, in Lancaster County, the ubiquitous name last name of Herr. In Manor Township on the West Branch of the Little Conestoga, there were three mills in a row with the name Herr. The next one was your answer.

I had made some alterations to the document so players could not use the one on the Library of Congress website. The original map has the name Miller; however, the treasure map version was changed to Kirk.

Week 3b Poem

Solution: Conestoga Trail along Speedwell Forge at 40° 12′ 24.17″ N, 76° 19′ 2.28″ W

The Week 3b poem also proved challenging for many players. “Break the dam! Release the river!” is a quote from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers movie when an army of Ents is attacking Isengard. This hinted that you are going somewhere near a dam. Both Safe Harbor and Holtwood likely sprang to mind.

The following line of “find him tucked between hammer and orange blae” gives you more location information. Hammer refers to Hammer Creek. While “orange blaze” is the 63-mile-long Conestoga Trail with its orange trail marker.

A good portion of the Conestoga Trail follows Hammer Creek in northern Lancaster County to help narrow the search area, and the line “Farewell and Godspeed on this quest that pays” was added. This hints at the location of Speedwell Forge Lake, which has a dam across the Hammer Creek to create a small body of water.

Finally, the poem speaks of a grizzled Ent with the marker inside his open mouth. In The Two Towers movie, Ents play a critical role. They are living trees with the ability to move and speak. An adventurer with a careful eye along the trail will soon spot the tree in question.

Week 4: The hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg enters its penultimate phase!

Week 4a Riddle

The answer lies at the feet of two sleeping Anns.

Solution: EDWHAND

If asked to name famous people from Lancaster’s rich history named Ann, a few names come to mind such as Ann LeTort, Anne Wood Henry, and Ann Coleman.

In this case, sleeping means dead. So you need to visit the grave of someone named Ann. But which one? Ann LeTort’s tomb seems to have been lost to time. Anne Wood Henry is buried in Greenwood Cemetery but doesn’t fit the part of there being two Anns.

That leaves Ann Coleman. If she isn’t Lancaster County’s most famous person named Ann, she definitely has the most tragic story. Ann was the fiancé of future President James Buchanan; however, she broke off their engagement over unclear circumstances and died mysteriously shortly later. Most historians believe it was from a laudanum overdose. The question remains whether it was accidental or intentional. Ann is buried next to her mother, Ann Coleman, in the Saint James Episcopal Church Cemetery. There’s the “two sleeping Anns” part.

At their feet is the grave of Edward Hand. He was an adjutant general under George Washington, where he overhauled administrative and training procedures. This is where some players struggled. They entered Edward Hand instead of what’s carved into his grave, which reads EWD HAND.

Week 4b Poem

Solution: Fishing Creek at 39°48’11.6″N 76°14’46.9″W

There might be other places in Lancaster County, but Fishing Creek is the only spot I can think of where you can literally walk (or drive) on water three times without sinking in relatively short succession. The name of the nature preserve, Fishing Creek, is in the poem with the f and c bolded.

As you hike through the preserve, you will notice abandoned concrete cast steps above the road about .3 miles north of the third fording. Lancaster Conservancy has diamond property markers throughout the preserve. I shrunk the medallion for the fourth week to hide it behind the diamond.

Week 5: The hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg comes to its thrilling conclusion!

Week 5 Riddle

Within cavalry’s gaze, 
the key in Bricks and Mortar lays.
Behind the legend the other half hides.
A light made by Wood reveals where it resides.

Solution: Poetry path plaque at Penn Square at 40°02’16.8″N 76°18’21.4″W

The line “within cavalry’s gaze” references the cavalry statue at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Penn Square. If you follow his gaze, it leads you to a plaque with Barbara Buckman Strasko’s poem “Bricks and Mortar.” The poem is part one of the key to unlocking the numbers printed on medallions from the previous four weeks, much like the Silence Dogood letters in the movie National Treasure.

However, this is only half of the GPS coordinates. You can find the “other half” “behind the legend” of the treasure map. If you flip it over, the document appears blank; however, using a black light, the numbers magically appear. Another name for a black light is Wood’s Lamp invented by Robert Williams Wood to diagnose specific dermatosis.

If you apply an Ottendorf cipher using the numbers you collected each week and the ones I. The back of the map, you get what appears to be a series of random letters.

Ottendorf cipher explained.

Next, you need to apply a classic A1Z26 substitution cipher with the added twist of an O0. Basically A = 1, Z = 26, and O = zero. The information was hidden in the tiled gallery at the top of the page. The same three images appeared at the top of each week’s post. However, this time, I added the cipher information, thinking most people are not looking very closely at the pictures.

Once you apply this final cipher, you now have the location of my $1,500 Easter egg. If you decide to visit, you will know you are in the correct spot when you get there. I have a waterproof ammo box at the location filled with wooden nickel adventure tokens and 3D printed Extra Life medallions (while supplies last) for people who complete the adventure.

Here’s what you are looking for…a giant egg in the ground.

Will reach the land where my Egg awaits.

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4 thoughts on “Secrets Revealed! The riddles from the hunt for my $1,500 Easter Egg explained

  1. Way to go Night Owls! I knew I should have kept my Spencer Gifts black light.

  2. Well done Night Owls! I tried lemon juice and heat on my map….See you next year!!

  3. Way to go guys! Adam, any chance we could get an article about some of your red herrings? It would be fascinating to hear a few traps you set.

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