Image 1/Verse 7 Solution

This is my interpretation of the solution for Image 1 / Verse 7. Major credit to Odeyin for associating it to China Beach. His steady work over the years has also identified some subtle and flat out hard-to-see details of Image 1 that no one else has spotted. A great deal of work has also been done and is publicly available on the pbworks wiki. Some of the visual clues in this solution were discovered by the influx of new searchers after The Secret aired on Expedition Unknown. Several people posted on the pbworks wiki but their comments were subsequently removed. I am not a fan of censorship. Even so, many pieces of this puzzle have been discovered and rediscovered by different people independently over the years. I have used some of these pieces and added a great deal of my own interpretation. I approach these puzzles differently. Byron Preiss was a liberal writer. He uses metaphors, obscure literary references, homophones, homonyms, synonyms, wordplay, and inter-puzzle clues. His imaginary creatures are fleeing persecution in the Old World, and settling in the New World. All of these puzzles have one or more flavors of human rights, slavery, equal rights, and justice/injustice baked in. He expected us to go to the library and read up on the history of each of these places. The pieces of history he chose to highlight are extremely important, and form themes that can be (and should be) used to solve all of the puzzles. Byron Preiss and John Jude Palencar were master puzzle makers. I think that these puzzles are deeper than most have imagined. This is why so few have been solved.

Images in this solution marked with “OC” mean original content. These are images I have taken myself. Other images are given attribution as appropriate.

San Francisco

This image is pretty much universally accepted as being associated with San Francisco. The rocky cliffs and water represent the San Francisco bay area, with the barred window as an overt reference to Alcatraz Island. There is an outline of a trolley car in the post supporting the night stand. And the part in the woman’s hair (shaped like the profile of a humming bird) is similar to an overhead map of the Presidio area and Golden Gate Bridge.  The main rectangle with Roman numerals on the woman’s dress is visually similar to Golden Gate Park, bordered by its many city streets.

cable car
Cable car profile in post jjron [GFDL 1.2], from Wikimedia Commons
The part in her hair


  • What is the window/door/gate in the image?
  • Who does she resemble?
  • Why does she have a blue glow?
  • Why are her lips puckered?
  • What are all of the objects next to her on the table? Why are they also glowing?
  • What does the dragon represent and why is it covered in blocks?
  • What are the rocks and moons in the image?
  • Why does her gown have circles on it like the circles in the NYC puzzle?

There are major themes in this puzzle related to these questions, and while searchers have hundreds of different spots for their solves, there is but one correct solution. Solutions that do not address, or answer these questions are missing out on what Preiss was trying to convey to the reader. I think these themes help identify the correct solution out of the myriad of other possibilities. One of these themes is of prisoners. There are at least 5 different stories/clues of imprisonment in this puzzle. If you don’t agree with my interpretation that is ok! As much as we like to collaborate, treasure hunting is a competitive sport. Keep your solution, take from mine what you will.

Strawberry Hill and Sutro Tower

The first lines of the verse read:

A stone wall’s door
The air smells sweet.

A stone wall’s door is a gate. This is an allusion to “Golden Gate”. Most of the imagery in this puzzle has been matched to Golden Gate Park. Looking for our starting location, the stones in the image are visually similar to the stones used in Huntington Falls on Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park.

huntington falls
Huntington Falls (left OC)

Near the top of the stone geography above her head is what appears to be a barred door or gate. Sitting atop Strawberry Hill are the stone remnants of the Sweeny Observatory which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. While not much remains of the observatory, the remnants of its stone walls and gate are still discernible.

Remnants of the Sweeny Observatory (left – OC) the Sweeny Observatory after the 1906 earthquake (right – SMU Central University Libraries [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons)
The original structure of the observatory looked very much like a keep/castle. It had a main gate with an arched side passageway. This type of side door is called a “wicket” or a “manway”. Wickets were common in castles, where you might want a person to enter/exit without having to open the main gate. If you look closely, the stonework of the wicket in the image looks very similar to the wicket of the observatory.

a stone walls door
Sweeny Observatory (right – SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY – free use for website/blog)

“The air smells sweet” reinforces our connection to Strawberry Hill as historically the scent of wild berries there was described as smelling “sweet” after a downpour.

strawberry hill
(Google Maps)

The Shoronomon

Not far away
High posts are three

Recently the Japanese version of The Secret was translated into English, and it was discovered that the Japanese version contained hints from Preiss that were not in the original book. These hints were intended to help Japanese searchers as they would have greater difficulty in solving the English language metaphors and wordplay of the puzzle. This couplet is particularly difficult, not just for Japanese searchers, but for everyone. The translated Japanese states that the high posts are “wooden”. To solve this hint we have to look at one of the major visual clues in the image. The background of the woman’s gown features small circles similar to those seen in the NYC puzzle. These circles are meant to be decoded as Ishihara colorblind tests. For the NYC puzzle (which I will publish sometime later) these are a major clue to the final location. Ishihara is a Japanese surname and fits well with a Japanese audience and the Japanese Tea Garden in GGP.


book cover
We must find and read this book (OC)

Since these circles appear down her gown (which we have previously decoded as Golden Gate Park) the hint is to go to the library and search for Ishihara in Golden Gate Park. In doing so we find that there is a book called The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (1893-1942) written by Tanso Ishihara and Gloria Wickham. We are to use the Ishihara tests as a namesake for the author of this book. The book was privately published and is extremely rare. Yet it is the de-facto reference for the tea garden’s history. Only 12 copies exist in worldcat. There are no digital versions of the book online. The only way to read this book is to find someone who owns it, or journey to one of the few libraries that has it. The main public library in San Francisco has one in the history section on the 6th floor. Preiss expected us to go to the library and read this book. It chronicles the absolute dedication of Makoto Hagiwara as he and his family built and rebuilt the tea garden. In 1942 the Hagiwara family was sent to Topaz, Utah as executive order 9066 ordered all persons of Japanese descent to relocate to concentration camps (prisoner theme reference #1).

There is one page in particular that really stands out.

book posts
High posts are three (OC)

In short the shoronomon or gate of the Japanese Tea Garden is the solution to “high posts are three”. Here is why:

  • Higher on the page the author uses “post” 3 times in a row: post-exposition, post-earthquake, and post-relocation.
  • We have another wicket connection. The author uses “wicket” in referencing the shoronomon gate to the tea garden. While a wicket is a kind of side door, it is also the name for the 3 wooden posts used in the game of cricket.
    A stone wall’s door “wicket” (top left © Sir Gawain / Wikimedia Commons ) A door within a gate “wicket” (bottom left Mylius [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons) A cricket wicket (right Acabashi [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons)
  • A Deva King statue (Nio Sama) carved of wood stood next to the Hagiwara’s home entrance. He holds a high post (status) as a king in the Buddhist pantheon.
  • Nio Sama holds a three pronged trident.
  • Nio Sama served as a guard to the Hagiwara’s house and garden. This was his post, i.e. his station.

The shoronomon (nicknamed the “mon”) is featured in prime real estate in the image. Like the Nio Sama, the wicket to this gate may not exist anymore, as the original shoronomon was destroyed after the Hagiwara family was relocated. So the solution to this location today is almost entirely metaphorical. Anti-Japanese sentiment in WWII lead to the destruction of the main structures in the tea garden.

The “mon” (OC)

The 11 moons in the image represent the 11 bridges over water in the San Francisco Bay area. This is from the moon bridge in the tea garden.

moon bridge
Moon bridges, the 11 bridges over water of the San Francisco Bay area (right Moon bridge – OC)

Additionally as we journey to the shoronomon from Strawberry Hill by walking east on Stowe Lake Dr East we can see Sutro Tower and its three radio antennas in the distance.

sutro oc
View of Sutro Tower looking south across Stowe Lake (OC)
high posts are three
(Google Maps) spiral stair (right – OC)

As a side note from the above map. Another name for a spiral staircase is the word “turnpike“. This is a key clue in the Boston puzzle (Image 11). JJP and Preiss are using the spiral stair rail in this puzzle as a reinforcing clue in the Boston puzzle. It is also used to highlight the stem of the rose in the image as a sort of a map of highway 1 as it goes across GGP. Turnpike is another word for a highway.

(Google Maps)

We also have a teapot and leaf in the image. This reinforces our connection to the Japanese tea garden.

teapot and tea leaf

Shakespeare’s Garden

Education and Justice
For all to see

Shakespeare’s bust (right – OC)

While we are talking about wickets, and before we get to this couplet of the verse – If a “wicket” was the key to the first two clues, how much do you want to bet that it is a key for the third clue? To solve the third location, we have to have correctly solved the first two. Many people have noticed that the barred wicket in the image is shaped like the enclosure of Shakespeare’s statue in Shakespeare’s Garden. The enclosure used to have metal gates that could be closed to protect the statue.  If we use the library like we did to find the shoronomon, and keep in mind our visual clues and wicket/gate theme as hints, we can solve this piece of the puzzle. Looking in the library (or Google Books) for “Shakespeare” “barred” and “gates” we find an article called “Gates” on Shakespeare’s Stage written in Shakespeare Quarterly in 1956. This article painstakingly describes the physical positioning, and meaning behind the use of gates in all of the sets of Shakespeare’s plays. Since space and resources are limited on stage, Shakespeare had to make the most out of everything. Gates are one of the main structures used to convey meaning in his plays.

shakespeare gates closed
Old gates enclosing Shakespeare’s bust – they no longer exist (Gabydeb [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons)
In the article, the story of Romeo and Juliet is the author’s first example of Shakespeare’s use of gates.

gates on shakespeares stage

On the second page the author describes Juliet’s burial vault as having a barred wicket. As such the barred wicket in the image is symbolic of Juliet’s tomb.

Juliet wicket

Ok, we have Romeo and Juliet, but how do we solve “Education and Justice For all to see”? Education and Justice for all to see is about Barnette vs West Virginia State Board of Education. This case was about Jehova’s witnesses whose children refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school for religious reasons. The school expelled them, but the case was brought before the Supreme Court and was won by the Barnettes. “Education” is the WV State Board of Education, and “And Justice for all” is the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance. The clue here is the refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Romeo and Juliet

In the story of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet loves Romeo, but he is from a rival family, and their marriage is forbidden. In the famous balcony scene (Act 2 Scene 2) Juliet tells Romeo a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Remember “The air smells sweet“? There is also a rose in the image. She means that if he wasn’t a Montague, and she wasn’t a Capulet, that their love would be the same. Essentially, allegiance to family names means nothing to her.

Later, Juliet marries Romeo in secret and they consummate their marriage. The following morning, (Act 3 Scene 5) Juliet’s mother tells her that she is to marry a man named Paris on Thursday (it is Tuesday) – a man chosen by her father. She refuses and tells her mother that she will marry Romeo instead.

When her father arrives, and learns of not only her refusal, but her intentions with Romeo, he is furious. He says:

Thursday is near. Lay hand on heart, advise.

Which essentially means ‘place your hand on your heart and heed my advice’. He then threatens to disown her.

Marriage is a pledge of allegiance to another person. By refusing to say her vows to Paris, she is refusing to say a pledge of allegiance to another man. She does this at the risk of being disowned, and risks her allegiance to her own family.

We do have something in the image that represents marriage. In the Boston puzzle JJP used a clove hitch to represent a place where people get married. We are to use the clove hitch in the dragon’s tail to mean a place where people get “hitched” or “tie the knot” as Golden Gate Park has many places that serve as a venue for marriage, one of which is Shakespeare’s Garden.

Tying the knot, getting hitched = marriage

Education and Justice For all to see” is about Juliet’s refusal to marry the man her family had chosen for her. This takes us from the Japanese Tea Garden to Shakespeare’s Garden. Here are the number of logical steps necessary to make this connection:

shakespeare logic


shakespeares bust
Shakespeare’s statue in Shakespeare’s Garden (OC)

I have to say that after researching so much about wickets, one of their uses is at box offices. You can buy tickets for say a movie or a theme park from someone behind a wicket. This bust above really does look like Shakespeare could be a walk-up box office vendor. Also worth mentioning, Shakespeare’s works are frequently used in schools (education) and they teach us life lessons about justice. Lastly, despite the fact that the woman in the image represents San Francisco’s Asian culture, I think the reason that the woman has blue eyes in the image is that she also represents Juliet. Blue eyes and black hair are a trait of some Italians.

for all to see
(Google Maps)

San Francisco’s Graveyards

So if the barred wicket represents the Capulet burial vault, specifically Juliet’s tomb, then the meaning of the vertical rocky structures in the image becomes more clear. These are “tomb” stones. A fair bit of acreage surrounding Golden Gate Park used to be cemeteries. In fact, if you are from San Francisco there is a good chance you commute over, work over, recreate, or possibly even live on land that was once a cemetery. In the early 20th century city land was extremely limited. As the population grew, so did a push to move the dead out of San Francisco to Colma. You can read all about it here. But, the work was sloppy, and bodies were left behind. In some cases new buildings and plumbing were laid right over and through bodies. Many of the bodies that were moved were put into mass graves, and some of those mass graves were even left unmarked. It is pretty disturbing, but this fact, and the interpretation of tombstones, help us decode part of the puzzle later on. Although you might make the connection between the rocks in the image and tombstones without having solved the puzzle, it took us solving the first 3 locations correctly to be able to logically arrive at this conclusion.

Tombstones (right – Postdlf [CC BY-SA 3.0])
The abrupt horizontal line below the rocks (not shown here) represents the boundary to Golden Gate Park. No cemeteries were in the park.

Francis Scott Key and John J Pershing

Sounds from the sky
Near ace is high
Running north, but first across

Northeast of Shakespeare’s Garden is the Francis Scott Key memorial. He wrote the Star Spangled Banner (National Anthem). Sounds from the sky refers to the phrase: “bombs bursting in air”. In the previous couplet of the verse we have “Education and Justice for all“. The “and Justice for all” alludes to a line in the Pledge of Allegiance. This hint helps reinforce Francis Scott Key and the National Anthem, as the Pledge of Allegiance is also a patriotic verse. Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while imprisoned on a British ship (prisoner reference #2). Just to the east of the Key statue is the “Black Jack” John J Pershing memorial. “Ace is high” alludes to his nickname. “Ace is high” doubles as a reference to highway 1 that runs north and then east across Golden Gate Park as the Park Presidio Bypass.

key and pershing
Sounds from the sky near Ace is high, Francis Scott Key (left – OC) John J Pershing (right – OC)
literature map 1
Shakespeare’s Garden to John J Pershing (Google Maps)

Miguel de Cervantes and the World War I Memorial

In jewel’s direction
Is an object
Of Twain’s attention

Our next destination is the Miguel de Cervantes / Don Quixote statue northwest of JJ Pershing followed by the World War I Memorial on the north side of Golden Gate Park. But to get there we must step into Preiss’ world and do some literary gymnastics. This is where he uses text from an old and obscure source. I believe he used this technique in each puzzle. Preiss was a writer. He expected us to go to the library and use keywords from the last several clues to find a piece of literature with relevant text to find our next location(s). Some of them are more obvious than others. This one was a doozy. So here we go…

Mark Twain loved hanging out with young women and girls. He called them his “jewels”. If we went to the library in 1982 and searched for “Mark Twain girls jewels” we would get “Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals, Volume II (1877-1883): The Mark Twain papers“. This is a collection of notes Mark Twain took on his trip through Europe. In this publication is a page of notes that has an extremely strong correlation to our puzzle.

twain notes
Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals, Volume II (1877-1883): The Mark Twain papers (Google Books)

These look like random notes right? Maybe just junk? Let’s take a closer look.

  1. See where it says “National Anthem“? Remember we are standing near the Francis Scott Key monument?
  2. The next line reads “The Great Duel“.  Don Quixote’s statue is visible just north of us along Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., and Don Quixote is known for his fantastic challenges and duels! Additionally, just northwest of the Don Quixote statue is a World War I memorial. World War I was known as the “The Great War” with its extreme use of heavy artillery (sounds from the sky / bombs bursting in air). Ace is high could also refer to WWI as it was the first war to see air to air duels e.g. The Red Barron. As such ace is high can also be read “aces high” as in WWI flying aces. Also, let us not forget that John J Pershing holds the rank of General of the Armies for his command during World War I. This is equivalent to a six star general, and he is only out ranked by George Washington himself. Ace is high refers to his nickname, but also the fact that he really can’t be outranked by anyone but Washington.
  3. The next line contains the phrase “Student Duel“. Miguel de Cervantes (the author of Don Quixote) fled Spain after the king issued a warrant for a student of the same name who was accused of wounding a man in a duel.
  4. Loss of the girl’s jewels” in the next line is our Mark Twain reference to girls and jewels.  Mark Twain is mentioned directly with regard to this phrase down in the footnotes.
  5. The last line “Learning German” reinforces the World War I connection. During World War I there was strong anti-German sentiment in the U.S. and laws were created to ban the teaching of the German language in schools. “Cook-book” can be tied in with an earlier line in the verse “The air smells sweet”.

Down in the footnotes, we see something that ties everything together and points again to Miguel de Cervantes / Don Quixote statue and the WWI memorial.

“loss of the girls’ jewels”, “The Lost Ear-ring” (Mark Twain’s Fables of a Man…

The “loss of the girls’ jewels” comes from a story called “The Lost Ear-ring”. featured in Mark Twain’s Fables of a Man. What do bombs bursting in air (artillery shells) do? They make your ears ring! What is Don Quixote? He is a collection of fables of a man! This page ties in Mark Twain, Francis Scott Key, Miguel de Cervantes, and the WWI memorial in one page of literature!!! Preiss chose his words and targets masterfully. It should also be noted that Miguel de Cervantes was captured and enslaved by the Turks for 5 years. He was also jailed at least 3 times for financial problems and as a suspect to murder. It is a popular myth that he was inspired to write Don Quixote while in prison. Certainly, his experiences did inspire him as an author, if not just for Don Quixote (prisoner reference #3).

Running North but First Across

Junipero Serra (OC)

Right in between the Cervantes and JJP statues (in the median) is a statue of Padre Junipero Serra holding a giant crucifix (cross). Junipero Serra Blvd is south of Golden Gate Park and feeds directly into highway 1 which runs north through and across the park. Junipero Serra is a controversial figure as he used corporal punishment and imprisonment of Native Americans in his efforts to convert them to Christianity (prisoner reference #4). Taking this interpretation paired with the last line of the footnotes above, we can determine the actual direction of the casque. We are to connect the dots between the John J Pershing statue, the Junipero Serra statue, the Miguel de Cervantes statue and the WWI Memorial.  Putting all of this together, the jewel’s direction is northwest.

literature map 2
jewel’s direction is northwest hitting the Cervantes statue and the WWI memorial (Google Maps)

It should be noted that the next lines in the verse read “Giant Pole Giant Step”. Don Quixote challenged a windmill which he perceived as a giant. I will get back to these lines later.


cervantes ww1
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Sancho Panza (left – OC) WWI Memorial (right – OC)

Beauty and the Beast Symbolism
beauty and the beast

We know the direction, but what is our destination? To figure this out we need to look at the major theme going on in the image. The woman has a blue glow about her. Several objects to her right share this glow. These objects are from the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. If you look closely, her lips are also puckered as if she is giving a kiss. In the fairy tale (which has many versions) an enchantress (disguised as an old woman) seeks shelter in a prince’s castle offering to pay him with a single rose. The prince refuses hospitality to the woman who subsequently curses him by transforming him into a beast, and his servants into animated objects (shown in the image). The curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss, and he is under the gun because time is limited (hour on the clock). Preiss reinforces this with the composition of the woman’s face. She is actually a combination of two statues in GGP. A buddha statue in the Japanese Tea Garden and a beast (sphinx) near the De Young Museum.  Preiss is hoping we make the connection through word play.

Buddha and the Beast

buddha and the beast
Buddha and the Beast (OC)
a chinese beauty and the beast
(Google Books)

The Beauty (buddha) and the Beast theme comprises the major parts of the image. Preiss wants us to make the connection between San Francisco’s Chinese culture and the fairy taleSo, keeping in line with using the library to find old literature, he expected us to find and read the story of  “A Chinese Beauty and the Beast“. The story is about a Chinese merchant who had 3 daughters. The youngest (his favorite) was called Pearl of the Sea (notice the gem is a pearl in the image?). Pearl asks her father to bring her a piece of the Great Wall of China. Her father obliges, travels, and takes a brick from the great wall. But as he does so, a Tartar emerges from the hole in the wall and captures him. The father strikes a deal with the Tartar allowing him to go free if Pearl of the Sea marries him. Pearl of the Sea agrees and when she ventures in to the wall with the Tartar, he appears not as a Tartar but as a Chinese gentleman. Note the “Fairy Tale” aspect here. Preiss intentionally chose this story because it fits well with his book about mythical creatures.

The Great Wall of China

The key to this story is the Great Wall of China and its bricks. The dragon on the woman’s robe snakes around like the Great Wall and it is covered in blocks. Remember earlier I mentioned that “stone wall” is in the first line of the verse? Well that is to reinforce the image as the Great (stone) Wall of China.

great wall
Severin.stalder [CC BY-SA 3.0] (Wikimedia)
Question: Where can we find our metaphorical Great Wall of China? 
Answer: China Beach

China Beach just happens to have a sea wall built out of concrete blocks. The shape of the woman’s upper lip and the shape of her forearms and wrists match the trapezoidal shape of said sea wall.

sea wall

The aerial view of China Beach, resembles her collar. The gem is a pearl like Pearl of the Sea mentioned earlier. Her skin is the sand on the beach, with her curly hair on each side representing the rocky cliffs that enclose the beach.

china beach overhead
Google Earth

Question: So we just went from Golden Gate Park to China Beach. That is a giant step. Is there anything in the image to help reinforce this step?

Remember Mark Twain and our “jewel’s direction”? Mark Twain travelled to Russia and met the tsar, after which he maintained a lifelong interest in Russian literature and politics. Our path northwest from the WWI Memorial to China Beach also takes us through Little Russia.

little russia
path through Little Russia (Google Maps)

The backwards ‘G’ and ‘h’ under her collar are a reference to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory Sign as it is seen from behind when viewed on Russian Hill. So if the ‘G’ and ‘h’ represent Russian Hill and its line-of-sight, but in the context of this puzzle they are used as a metaphor for Little Russia

russian hill

We can see an eagle and the profile of president Lincoln in the rocks. These can be mapped to Eagles Point and Lincoln Park. The eagle is really hard to see but it is there. Remember the tombstones? Lincoln Park and the land adjacent to Eagles Point, including the entire Legion of Honor, were built over the Golden Gate Cemetery. This is why they appear in the stone formations (tombstones).

(Google maps)

Leonardo da Vinci “Virgin of the Rocks” [Public domain]
It has been pointed out that the painting JJP created for this puzzle has some overt similarities to Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks”. In both images the woman’s hair goes from straight to curly. Their necklines are similar with a pendant or gem in the same area. And they both have jagged rocky backgrounds. I think the hint/connection here is based on the title of the painting “Virgin of the Rocks”. This is an allusion to the Chinese merchant’s daughter Pearl of the Sea. Assuming that she is a virgin because she is unmarried, it ties together the daughter (virgin) and the rocky beach that surrounds the sea wall. Something along the lines of – virgin of the sea rocks.

There is a ‘C’ and lowercase ‘b’ in the formation of the dragon’s claws. This stands for China Beach. cb

Final Location

Giant pole
Giant step

This couplet refers to:

  1. Don Quixote’s duels with giants.
  2. It is a nod to the San Francisco Giants.
  3. The two G’s as the first letters are a reference to the “Golden Gate”.
  4. It is an allusion to the giant step we took distance-wise to make it from Golden Gate Park to China Beach.
  5. Giant step is a metaphor for Sea Cliff.
  6. And there just happens to be a large flagpole standing near the edge of the sea wall on the China Beach. A considerable step down.
  7. It is only fitting that our Giant pole is a flag pole based on our earlier clue of Education and Justice for all to see. (Refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag).
giant pole giant step
(Google Maps)

To the place
The casque is kept

The word “kept” here has special meaning. During the 19th century the beach was used as a fishing camp for Chinese immigrants. However, with growing anti-immigration sentiment, local and federal laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) were passed to try to reduce the number of new Chinese immigrants entering the country, and destroy their livelihood (fishing). As such they were pushed out of the main harbors and kept on (or limited to) this beach away from the main fishing ports. Furthermore, one of San Francisco’s mayors named James D. Phelan ran for re-election in the U.S. Senate under the slogan “Keep California White”. Upon his death he willed his own money to the state to buy China Beach. In 1934 the state renamed the beach in his name. It kept the name until 1976 when the beach was transferred back to the federal government. Preiss chose this beach to highlight the human rights and immigration struggle of San Francisco’s Chinese population. I think the word “kept” is intentionally used to show the past tense of Phelan’s racist slogan – “keep”. It’s a clever snub against him. I think the sea wall, pole, and rectangular building also resemble that of a keep (small fortress). We end our hunt how we began it, at a fortress like structure – A stone wall’s door. Remember that the Sweeny Observatory looked like a small fortress by design. It had a stone wall with a gate and a wicket. China Beach has a stone wall, and it peers out over the Golden Gate.

(Google Maps)

Measurements and Digging – Use the Bricks

look straight ahead

The eyes of each figure tell us the direction of the line-of-sight. In this puzzle she is looking straight at us, and her upper lip represents the shape of the trapezoidal wall. We are to peer directly at the wall for our line-of-sight. It is also noteworthy that the woman has her back to the rocky cliffs and sea. This means she is facing the shore and not looking out to sea. As confirmation to this orientation the outline of the overhead view of Land’s End is shown on her right sleeve. When we are facing the sea wall (looking south) Land’s End is to our right. Her left sleeve has the outline of Baker’s Beach. As such it is to our left when we are looking at the wall. Notice that the outlines between Land’s End and Baker’s Beach are different with respect to the cloth of her sleeve. Land’s End fits on the inside of her right sleeve – i.e. the shape of the sleeve itself. Baker’s Beach outlines the outside profile of her left sleeve.  north but first across

Next we look for measurements. Remember that our fairy tale involves taking a brick from the Great Wall of China? We are to use the concrete blocks on the China Beach sea wall as our metaphorical bricks for measurements. She is using her right hand to point to the line in between the third and forth blocks on her left sleeve. We are to take this as: measure 3 blocks from right to left. Remember “high posts are three” reinforces this interpretation. Next, her left hand is poised as if she is measuring four blocks along her right sleeve with her thumb and index finger. Her hand resembles the shape of the curved concrete ramp down to the beach. This measurement is distance from the wall: 4 blocks. We are to measure north, but first across. So measure out 4 blocks across the width of the wall and then go north that distance. Last, we see the yin yang symbol on her gown. It is positioned under her crossed arms after the third roman numeral which is actually the roman numeral II repeated a second time. This is the depth: 2 feet.

distance and depth

beach map

Note! That these images are not exact, this is just the best I could do with an overhead view. You have to measure the blocks on site to get the exact location.

The Dig

We went to China Beach during the government shutdown. The gates to the beach were locked but dozens of people had gone under the fence to play and surf on the beach. I measured and dug a gigantic hole. While I did not find the casque, I did find something I was looking for – a stone. I thought that Preiss might have marked the spot with a metaphorical brick from the Great Wall of China. About 1 foot down I found a smooth granite block laying flat. It had definitely been shaped by man, and it was not a natural stone from the surrounding cliffs. It looks a lot like a paver stone. I like to think that this block was left there from Preiss as a token to the fairy tale used to solve this puzzle. Maybe at some point in the past, the casque lay beneath or beside it.

A stone, a brick, wishful thinking? (OC)

The tides on the beach are powerful, and there are warning signs that people have died swimming and wading there. While I was there the water came almost all of the way up to the sea wall, and that was a 6.8 foot tide. The day I left, was the night of the blood super moon. The tide was supposed to be up to 9-10 feet. It would have easily run up to the wall. The beach itself has probably been cleaned and regraded (possibly by heavy machinery) many many times since 1981, but based on the power of the Pacific Ocean alone, I think the casque is lost. That is not to mention the earthquakes or beach-goers who could have destroyed the casque over the course of 38 years. I found a red plastic shovel at 2 feet deep (yes I measured). It looked pretty new. This leads me to believe that the sand turns over quite a bit on this beach.

dig day
low tide (OC)

Digging on China Beach below 2 feet is extremely difficult. The hole I dug was about 3 feet deep at its deepest point, but after 2 feet the sand gives way to hard clay. Water seeps in as you dig and it is not possible to dig a hole deeper than 2 feet without it filling with water. As such I had to dig a large and long drainage ditch towards the ocean to let the water run out and to be able to see where I was digging. The sides of the hole collapsed many times over the course of my 3 hour dig. I probably spent more than half of my time just regaining ground that I lost when sand and water seeped in and filled in my hole. One strong wave would have erased the entire operation.


Could I be wrong? Sure. Could I have measured incorrectly? Yes. The casque not being found on China Beach does not mean that it wasn’t placed there in 1981 or early 1982. We know that Preiss thought these puzzles were too easy and he expected all of these puzzles to be found in a few years time. For all we know the beach sand could have been a foot higher or lower at that time. I could have been off by an inch. I hear all of the time that people exclude locations because they have been dug. Well unless they were dug to a 3.5 foot depth, were perfectly on-the-money, and the landscape hasn’t changed, then yes they can be ruled out. Having dug several deep holes to plant trees and treasure hunting, I can tell you that 3.5 feet is a deep hole, and we don’t have earthquakes or 10 foot tides where I am from. If you have a different solution, keep it, don’t give up. Never give up. Use what I have provided and prove me wrong.

Closing Thoughts

The two stories of injustice towards the Japanese and Chinese populations of San Francisco are tied together not only in this puzzle but in a historical event. When Executive Order 9066 was signed into law and placed those of Japanese descent into concentration camps, a vacuum of labor was created. This lead to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Chinese workers, who had been excluded from some forms of their everyday lives, replaced the displaced Japanese. During WWII, Japan was an enemy state, but China was as an ally. The original Japanese structures in the tea garden were torn down and it was renamed to the “Oriental Tea Garden”. Chinese women replaced Japanese women there. It is a sad irony that the act of one people’s persecution (Japanese) lead to the improved status of another (Chinese). But this puzzle is about Education and Justice for All.

I think Preiss was giving us a history lesson about the USA in these puzzles. We had to learn the history of San Francisco to solve this one. Some of it is disturbing – the relocation to prison camps, the racist laws, the destruction of cultural landmarks, the desecration of the dead. But we must know the history so that we don’t repeat it. However, there is a lot to celebrate about San Francisco. I am not a resident or a native, but as a city, it is my first love. I have vacationed there 4 times, only once related to this puzzle. I will return again.

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