Marthaler Park

Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt in West St. Paul

Thanks to Amore Coffee for their support.

The Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt has been a staple alongside the St. Paul Winter Carnival since 1952. Every winter a medallion is hidden and hunters rely on clues from the Pioneer Press to narrow in on the treasure, which this year includes a cash prize of up to $10,000.

In 1979 the Treasure Hunt came to West St. Paul. But that won’t happen again as the rules now specify the medallion is hidden in Ramsey County.

The 1979 Hunt

On February 2, 1979, the trio of Ray and Diane Wood and Pam Olson teamed up to find the medallion in West St. Paul’s Marthaler Park. They found it near the tennis courts, attached to a piece of tree bark. Ray literally fell out of a tree looking for the prize.

“I just fell out of the tree and when I got up, we saw the medallion taped to the piece of bark. I must have knocked it loose.”

Ray Wood

The trio earned a prize of $2,500, prompting Ray and Diane to take a belated honeymoon.

Check out the clues from the 1979 hunt and see if you could have figured out the location in Marthaler park.

West St. Paul Banned the Hunt? Maybe, Sorta, Probably Not

The West St. Paul location for the medallion proved potentially controversial—multiple Pioneer Press stories over the years stated that both West St. Paul and Maplewood banned the hunt after overzealous hunters damaged local parks.

A 1992 Pioneer Press article quoted the late Bill Schneider, who was often in charge of hiding the medallion, talking about the problems the hunt sometimes caused:

“The funniest one of the whole bunch was when we hid it in West St. Paul right across from the police station. I got a letter from one of their aldermen who was going to take me to court and sue me. He said, ‘This is the St. Paul Winter Carnival, not the West St. Paul carnival,’ the whole thing. The funny part about it was the king that year was Bob Carter, probably the No. 1 citizen of West St. Paul. He was pretty upset with the alderman. I don’t know if he ever got him out of office, but he was going to go down and clean house.”

Bill Schneider

But there’s no verification an official ban ever happened. Maplewood has denied stories of a ban over the years and West St. Paul officials had no knowledge of such a controversy.

Whether or not there’s an official ban or if a city council member just wrote a sternly worded letter, the Ramsey County rule makes it a moot point. The medallion isn’t likely to be hidden in West St. Paul again (unless they change the rules).

Close to It All

That doesn’t mean we can’t come close. In 2013 the medallion was hidden in Cherokee Park near Annapolis Street, just across the border.

West St. Paul citizens can also take part in the hunt, and they just might win. Like the Melville family of West St. Paul, who found the medallion in Crosby Park in 2005.

Enjoy the Winter Carnival

The treasure hunt begins January 19 and the Winter Carnival runs January 23 to February 2 this year, so defy the cold and enjoy the ice sculptures, parades, treasure hunting, and more.

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