Updated: Sep 14
There were only three copies in existence of the manuscript that was handed to me by a friend in the summer of 2001. It was an inch thick stack of photocopied hand drawn maps, writings and letters written in the 90's by a treasure hunter from Virginia. The mishmash of papers pertained to the search for a massive hoard worth millions buried by the infamous Arthur Simon Flegenheimer, a.k.a Dutch Schultz. Only the hunter, my friend and my friends colleague knew of this extensive research.
Before the Dutchman died in October of 1935, the beer baron rambled on for hours talking nonsense. Or was he giving coded instructions as to the whereabouts of the money he stashed in Upstate NY? I was giddy at the thought of having insider tips on an estimated seven million dollars in cash, bonds and precious jewels. Upon further examination of the documents I discovered diary entries of hearing voices, letters to homeowners asking to dig holes on their land and several illustrations of buried treasure chests based on mysterious visions.
This particular hunter had watched an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and had a vision of riding in the car when the mobsters drove to bury the chest. He proceeded to go off the proverbial deep end looking for it - going as far as digging up yards in Phoenicia, NY. Nonetheless, I was compelled to research the captivating legend as well. After all, the treasure had yet to be found. My friend and I hit the library to sift through microfilm & fiche. I printed out newspaper articles that could be pieces to the puzzle. These articles made it into the final game to embellish a possible theory of what happened to the cache.
After creating the Crux Club seventeen years later, I knew this incredible manuscript had to be the inspiration for a location based game. The dynamics for the project were clear: a mystery that has captured the imaginations of people for decades, 1930's board game artwork for the puzzles and a full historical gangster walking tour of the East Village of New York City. Toss in the "what if" of the treasure actually being buried in NYC rather than mobster hideouts upstate and what came out is the intrigue I've always wanted in a street adventure.
Using a book that acts as the treasure hunters manuscript and a smartphone app that guides the player along the experience giving fun facts, The Dutchman's Loot became Crux Club's first self guided puzzle hunt. It has since transformed into a fully realized puzzle book you can play from anywhere containing over 75 puzzles.