Dirigo Treasures Maine/ Facebook
Maine residents seeking adventure, listen up: there's a $20,000 treasure hidden somewhere in the Pine Tree State, and it could soon be yours.
A Newcastle couple recently launched a statewide treasure hunt for a hefty cash prize that will reward the first person to collect all seven "Dirigo stones" following a series of riddles, puzzles and codes.
"We created the game to celebrate Maine's 200 years of statehood. What better way to celebrate Maine than to get people out of the house, out of their town, and exploring parts of the state they never knew existed?" Kurt Stokes, who created the game with his wife Kelly, told the Lincoln County News.
Originally scheduled to launch in March 2020, COVID pushed the start date back to December 2020.
Potential treasure hunters must buy a deck of 52 cards from Dirgio Treasures LLC, each of which has a special Maine-centric image gracing the front. Once they identify the image, a visit to its location will help them find the next clue.
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"We want players to explore the unique scenery of Maine, from its rushing rivers to green forests and towering mountains. We designed the game to be geographically and historically diverse," Stokes told the County News.
Stokes, a grant accountant at the University of Southern Maine, and his wife, the director of special services for the Central Lincoln County School System, reportedly spent three years traversing their state and photographing various locations in order to perfect the layout of their hunt.
The couple made sure to keep the locales accessible to everyone — and safe, as other treasure hunts have made headlines for all the wrong reasons (at least five people died seeking a million-dollar prize buried in the Rocky Mountains by antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn in 2010).
Though the location of the $20,000 remains a secret, the Dirigo website says it is publicly accessible, and was hidden legally, ethically and in an "environmentally responsible manner."
The site also said it was a "personal investment" by the game's creators, who took it from their own savings, and a "grand experiment" designed to answer the question of whether the concept of a treasure hunt is one that's been lost in the 21st century.
"When you approach something niche like this puzzle, you don't know how well it will take off. We're just eager to learn how real-life treasure hunts persevere in the 21st century," Stokes told the County News.
Those interested in playing can buy a standard poker-sized deck of cards for $19.99, or a flashcard-sized deck for $39.99, with $1 from each sale going to the Maine Cancer Foundation and Maine Rivers.
Though the company's website said they're currently sold out, they expect to have a new batch of games restocked by May.