Medallion Hunt Garrett Park_color.jpg

This site in Garrett Park is where the city’s 150th Anniversary Medallion was hidden. The medallion was wedged under the fourth stone from the left and was found by three high school students. 

It didn’t take long for a trio of Derby High School students to find the 150th Anniversary Medallion in a citywide hunt.

They found it on Sept. 2 in Garrett Park after only two clues had been released by the Derby Public Library, which was holding the event. Katie Bringhurst, Ellie Tanner and Ryan Eisenbarth used Labor Day afternoon as the time to undertake their quest.

“It’s always better doing things with friends. It makes it more fun,” Bringhurst said.

From the first clue, they knew it was a park and then with the second, they eliminated the major three parks.

Garrett is the next big park, so they headed there. It helped that Bringhurst is a lifelong Derby resident and knows all of the city’s parks well.

As soon as Bringhurst saw the Conestoga wagon replica on the west side of the entrance road, the wheels in her head started spinning.

“It just popped into my head,” she said. “That would make sense.”

She figured with the 150th anniversary theme, the wagon would play a key role in the hiding spot. The second clue also had the words “El Paso,” Derby’s former name.

Within minutes, the team took to the wagon area. The medallion was hidden, of course, so they looked among the paver stones and found the envelope with it.

“We were surprised to find it,” she said. “We thought it was going to be a wild goose chase and not find anything.”

Bringhurst said her family has a tradition of enjoying treasure hunting, often watching TV shows together that concentrate on the topic. A favorite is “Gold Rush,” a reality show that follows the efforts of family-run companies hunting for the precious metal.

The hunters’ speed not expected

The library staff didn’t predict such a quick find, said Hannah Adamson, a youth services library assistant who worked to set up the event.

“I was really surprised,” she said.

Looking at the first two clues, Adamson said she thought it would be pretty hard to find it from just those hints.

“I didn’t think they would find it on the second day, maybe by the fourth or fifth day for sure,” she said.

But she figured people had time during the Labor Day weekend.

The medallion, which was in a library envelope, was hidden in a place where hunters needed to see it at eye level and pull it out, although planners stressed that no digging was to be involved.

The team won $100 from sponsor Citizens Bank of Kansas and a gift basket.

There’s no firm way to put a count on how many people were looking for it as they didn’t have to register, but Adamson said she noticed more people in the parks when she was out and about that weekend with her family.

Also, the library saw an increase in its social media traffic from people looking for clues.

The hunt could be back in the future, although not under the 150th Anniversary umbrella, of course.

While many cities and festivals hold medallion hunts, so do numerous libraries, she said.

As for who wrote the clues, Adamson said that remains a secret, but she will say that it was not just one person.

For her part, Bringhurst said that if there’s another hunt, she would like to try it again. Solving riddles is what she likes to do. She may be using her clue-hunting skills in the future as she’s interested in forensic science and criminology as a career.

In the meantime, if the library needs another clue-writer, she might consider that, too.

“That would be fun,” she said.