The annual contest by The Floyd County Times, in which readers attempt to decipher the meaning of clues to determine the location of a hidden Easter egg worth $500, began Feb. 24 and required a record 13 clues before the Ratliffs stepped forward to claim their prize.
Eddie Ratliff, an employee of Big Sandy Two-Way Communications, found the egg late Tuesday afternoon, hidden amidst a cluster of saplings along the Garfield Trail in Prestonsburg.
The search was a long one. The Ratliffs said they originally thought the egg was hidden at the Middle Creek National Battlefield before later clues pointed them toward the Garfield Trail. Still, they still weren’t sure about the trail until the 12th clue -- a reference to two graves located along the trail -- cemented the location in their minds.
“When I saw that, I had already searched the clearing, but I knew then it had to be there,” Eddie Ratliff said.
Still, knowing that the egg was hidden along the 1.2-mile pedestrian and cycling trail, which stretches from West Prestonsburg to the foot of Abbott Mountain, did not make the search much easier. It did, however, give the Ratliffs incentive to increase their efforts.
“You could have been in arm’s reach [of the egg] and still not found it, unless you looked in the hard places,” Eddie Ratliff said.
In addition to clues 11 and 12, which led them to the trail, the Ratliffs said they found the exact spot with the help of the third clue, which revealed there were “lines above my head,” and the seventh clue, which noted that “the way is clear.” The clue was hidden along a section of the trail that crosses the clear-cut swath where electric transmission lines run up the mountain.
The Ratliffs, Pike County natives who have lived in Prestonsburg for the past 23 years, said they had no firm plans for spending their $500 prize, other than they would like to donate a portion to charity.
But more important for them than the money was the fun they had while playing the game.
“Everyone enjoys money,” Eddie Ratliff said, “but we really just liked solving the puzzle.”
“And the mystery of it,” his wife added. “The bad part of it was going to bed with those clues on your mind.”