Fort Yellowstone Cemetery

Fort Yellowstone Cemetery

A treasure hunter was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $30,000 in restitution for damaging archeological resources in Yellowstone National Park.

Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, was indicted by a federal grand jury in September after authorities said he was found digging in the historic Fort Yellowstone Cemetery.

Wyoming U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl sentenced the Syracuse, Utah, man to six months in prison, six months of house arrest and two years of supervision on top of a $31,566 bill for restitution, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

“Craythorn was found digging in Fort Yellowstone’s cemetery in late 2019 and early 2020, while looking for a treasure believed to be worth millions,” the release said. “Rangers and special agents of the National Park Service discovered seventeen sites of illegal excavation, including damage to an historic grave.”

Craythorn was reportedly looking for the elusive Forrest Fenn treasure, a chest allegedly containing gold, coins, jewelry and gemstones that Fenn, an art dealer and author from New Mexico, said he had hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Forrest Fenn’s promise of treasure spurred a decade-long search.

The chest was reportedly found in Wyoming in June 2020. Forrest Fenn passed away several months later.

“This is the most significant investigation of damage to archaeological resources in Yellowstone National Park’s recent history,” Superintendent Cam Sholly said.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery has at least 54 graves from 1888-1918, when the U.S. Army stationed soldiers in the area to protect the world’s first national park.

“To the National Park Service, the people of the United States and my family, I am truly sorry. I was motivated by the thrill of possibly finding a treasure, and my obsession clouded my judgment,” Craythorn said in an emailed statement.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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