Monday, February 1, 2016

The Book


    Just a note that my book about the adventures of modern day explorers, lost treasure and murder all wrapped up in this historical novel. The book is available at all the usual outlets; Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most book sellers. But why not get it direct from the publisher here. 
    More about the book and many interesting places and people are available on this blog site.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mound People

    It is perhaps one of the hottest days of the summer. And I am in western Kentucky and it seems to me to be even hotter. The trip is worth the heat and humidity though because I am visiting a very unique park. This park is devoted to the civilization that once occupied the Mississippi valley and central North America. Today's visit is to Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site.

Park grounds with museum building


    Located on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in western Kentucky the park is the site of a once thriving small community of people that lived at the site around 1100 to 1250 A.D. or about 750 years ago. According to archaeological evidence the small village lasted about 150 years. There are four main mounds that comprise the park and each one was for a different purpose. Some were for burial of loved ones, like our cemeteries of today  Others provided platforms for houses of person of status such as leaders of the community. And other earthen mounds appeared to be for ceremonial and business purposes.
    Wickliffe Mounds has an archaeological excavations site of the apparently living areas of some of the community. Tools, foods they ate and how their homes were built and arranged have all been gleaned from the excavations of the site. These excavations were conducted in the 1930's by the then owner Fain King, an amateur archaeologist. Mr. King opened and operated the excavations as a tourist attraction. In 1983 the property was turned over to Murray State University which operated the site as a research center. In recent years Wickliffe Mounds was designated as a historic site and became part of the Kentucky State Park System.
Artist rendering of how mound may have been used
    We know understand that this prehistoric village was part of the Mississippian culture that thrived in the central part of North America. The people that lived in this small settlement were part of a bigger society that occupied the entire region with the largest city of the Mississippian people living in Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois. Cahokia mounds built the same type of earthen mounds as the Wickliffe people except on a much larger scale.It is thought that as many as 20,000 people lived in the city. Wickliffe Mounds was simply a small satellite community much like small communities today are arranged on the outskirts of large cities.
Inside the museum at Wickliffe Mounds State Park
    The mound builders had developed an elaborate social structure. Agricultural practice of raising corn and other cultivated crops the Mississippian people were able to produce a surplus of food. With extra food being available specialized skills became possible just like our society of today. The mound builders transition their society from a hunter gatherer people to agricultural.
    The open excavations are protected inside the main museum building along with a variety of exhibits that explain many of the tools and materials used in the everyday life of the Wickliffe people. The site is unique among Kentucky State Parks in that it is the only park completely dedicated to a prehistoric culture. The park also includes a small gift shop and picnic shelter and facilities.
    While in the area on this visit a took a short ride over to the Ballard County wildlife management area and got a glimpse at some of the cypress swamps and waterways that are in this lowland region of Kentucky. As I am from Eastern Kentucky where the land is hilly to mountainous it is fascinating to me so see this totally different type of landscape in our beautiful state. Western Kentucky has a lot of interesting history and places to enjoy.


Cypress grove in Ballard County, Ky
                                                                                                                                                                 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Swift Blog Update

    Hello to all. Thanks for stopping by my blog site. I hope you find articles and information that is interesting and helpful in your research or entertainment. I have not posted in some time now but rest assured I am working on some new posts for the near future.
    As you may have figured out by now my interest in the geology and unique things of Kentucky is the main focus of this blog site. There are many other great sites that equally showcase amazing things from around out state. Some of my favorites are listed in the column on the right side of this page. You will also find links to my book publisher. And there you go, another reason for this site. I do want to promote my book "Swift." I have from time to time promoted the book as a blog entry. Well, I am going to do that again in this post.
Book Cover 
    "Swift" is a historical novel that is a treasure hunt for the legendary lost silver mines of John Swift. I believe this to be the oldest legend of Kentucky that predates statehood and is intertwined with known historic figures and events. For example, James Harrod, the pioneer who founded the first settlement in the Kentucky wilderness disappeared while searching for the mysterious silver mines. John Filson, who wrote the first book about Kentucky filed land claims that in the records declared that the lands he claimed contained the silver mine workings of Swift.
    From those days until this very day people have searched the lands of Kentucky and surrounding states hoping to locate the lost treasure. Some of your are among those that have been on this journey and perhaps that is why you visited this site. Thank you for stopping by and I hope that some of the information is helpful to you in your endeavors. Others are interested in various subjects that have been covered, and there have been a wide variety of topics.
Mining Operation for Kentucky Diamonds
   From the only diamond mine every established in Kentucky to famous land marks such as the Indian Stairway in the Red River Gorge have been presented in past articles. Each another mystery and possibly the clue that keeps the devoted searching on. There are other stories, places and topics covered.
Indian Stairway steps
    So, please take a look through the archive pages located on the right of this page. You might find something that interests you and perhaps start you on your  journey of exploration. And please consider purchasing my book "Swift." You can read an excerpt and securely purchase in paperback  or E book from here. The book is also available here at Amazon.com or through most major book stores.
Cliff face that contains the Indian Stairway
 



    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. And a very special thank you to all that follow this site. New visitors, sign up and follow too. More great adventures coming soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Morel Mushrooms-Treasure of Nature


We have run this article during the last two spring seasons but thought that some newer visitors to our site might find some of the secrets to the success Kiowa Muncie has in finding these delicious natural treats.






    Well, we've reached the time of year once again when the wind blows warm, trees awake and bloom and the mushrooms pop. Mushroom hunting is a a passion that resides deep inside me from my childhood days of watching my late papaw Woodrow Lacy. He would bring home huge yellow mushrooms from the oil fields he worked. Today I hunt my own though I never got the chance to hunt mushrooms with my papaw. But I feel he's with me every time I find one of these hidden "treasures." I've been hunting the illusive morel for the past eleven years and every season seems to offer a new challenge of the hunt. Each spring begins a bit different than the one before so in order to stay on top of them I decided to learn the ways of the morel mushroom. Nothing with mushroom hunting is set in stone but I'll go over some basic information about mushrooms that may be helpful to the beginner as well as the expert.
    The morel mushroom is a "fungus" and this plays into the most important behavior of the morel. There are a lot of things to factor into the conditions being just right for a morel to fruit. These include air temperature, soil temperature, humidity and rainfall. Mushrooms love rain and I've noticed they seem to get bigger with each rain. Have you ever heard someone say that a mushroom just pops up out of the ground? This has been a big question I pondered in my early days of mushroom hunting. On a few mushroom hunts I would find small mushrooms and decide to leave them until I hiked back through about a week later. When I did this I would always return to find them somewhat larger. This got me wondering, do morels grow? Turns out morels do grow! Research and time lapse video show that morels have a life span of two and a half to three weeks of growth given the right weather conditions. So if your out hunting and find small morels leave them and return later. This will make a difference in your overall yield.  You can do this in places that most people do not hunt. If a lot of people hunt the area you pretty much have to pick them right away or someone else will. This is totally up to the one hunting at the time but really works well in less public places.
    In order to find and understand the morel mushroom I've included a few basic tips than may help you find these wonderful treasures.

    Tip # 1 Perhaps the most important tip for anyone wanting to take up mushroom hunting is to learn your trees! Morels are always found around and under certain species of trees. The morel is thought to be "mycorrhizal." This means they form a mutual relationship with the roots of certain kinds of trees. The trees commonly associated with morels are ash, elm (dead or dying), poplar, sycamore, and apple. Black morels tend to show themselves first in the season followed by the yellows mid way through the season. The most important tip I give anyone wanting to take up mushroom hunting is to know those trees.

    Tip # 2 Always carry your morels in a "mesh bag." Never use plastic bags! Morels asexually reproduce by a spore system and they spread by the dispersal of those spores. The more spores you spread the more morels you'll find year after year. By carrying the morels you find in a mesh bag you drop spores as you stop and go. Something else very important to do is never pick all the mushrooms. Leave the older more dry morels to spore out for the following  years. It is possible to pick a spot dry which leads to my next important tip.

    Tip # 3 Never pull a morel up out of the ground. When you pull the morels up you kill the root system. This root system can extend a few feet to a few hundred yards. This is why if your out hunting and you find one mushroom you will usually find a few more. They are all  a part of this same root system or better known to the mushroom hunter as a "patch."

    Tip # 4 Recognize the weather conditions as well as soil textures. These conditions in the soil have to be just right for the morel to fruit and our mountains here in eastern Kentucky are great for this. We have the right mixture of sand, clay and decaying organic matter. Remember, mushrooms are a fungus so we also have to have the right air temperature, soil temperature and humidity. The area needs to stay damp so always look on the wet side of the mountain. The spring "awakening" of certain trees trigger the mushroom to start it's life cycle and reproduce. When all these conditions are right watch for a good warm rain followed by a few days of 60-70 degrees for the highs and lows in the 40-50 degree range. When you get all these conditions in the right spot you'll likely find mushrooms. This is one reason why the mushroom is considered illusive, timing is everything.

    Some great places to look for morels are old logging sites. They love places the ground has been disturbed in the past. Many of these places can be found in the forests of eastern Kentucky from the logging days of long ago. Also look for places that are disturbed by water. This could be run off from a mountain or the flood plains of a river. Just make sure you have permission before entering any property. Another great place to search for morels are in areas of past forest fires. Burn sites are great and produce the most morels of any site. One of my favorite patches was involved in a forest fire a few years ago and produced 15-20 pounds in one season! The black morels especially love burn sites and usually produce a bumper crop compared to the yellow morels which arrive a little later.

    So after you find your morels it is time to prepare them. I use the most common method of frying them. I get asked quite often on how I prepare my mushrooms. I begin by washing them and cutting each one in half. I then soak them in salt water for about 30 minutes to an hour. Next, I roll them in flour or cornmeal/flour mixture making sure each side is coated good. Then I fry them in lard using a cast iron skillet. I fry them turning them until both sides are crispy. Sometimes I freeze and store the mushrooms for a treat later.You repeat all the steps mentioned above in preparation for cooking but do not cook them. Place them on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. After they have frozen solid simply put them in a freezer bag and they will keep for months. They taste just as fresh as the moment you froze them.

    The last thing I want to leave with you comes from my papaw. He always said watch the dogwood tree, once the leaves on the dogwood are the size of a mouse's ear the yellow mushrooms are up. I hope everyone has a great mushroom season this year. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the box below.   
   



  

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Indian Givers

    I rarely promote other books on this site since I generally promote my own book.  I have a few from time to time because of their unique connection with my home state of Kentucky. But in today's post I want to make an exception.  A book entitled the "Indian Givers" is the work of anthropologist Jack Weatherford.
  Weatherford  describes the transformation of the world as a result of the Natives of the Americas. Amazingly, some of the things, devices and ideas that we take for granted everyday had roots in practices and items acquired from the early Americans.
    Though  the book was first published in 1988, the modest 272 paperback is captivating for those interested in history and anthropology. We take for granted the effect the common potato had on the industrial revolution. Or the fact that only excellent cotton came from the Native Americans.  It's a book about gifts to the world from the West.  I've had the book a number of years and though it is older now, it is not out of date. I recently was reminded of it while having a conversation with friends about trade routes and items of the prehistoric people of our area. After digging the book up from its burial in storage and reading some of it again I just had to share it with those of you who have such interests.  
    "Indian Givers" is still available in paper back at Amazon.com and a modest price I was amazed to discover.  Of course my book is also available at Amazon.com here.  
Turkey track carved into rock pointing up Swift Creek
    I would also like to invite you to visit other articles on my blog site here.  For those searching for the lost silver mine treasure there is a lot of good information. Other articles cover some of Kentucky's unique places and history.

Kentucky's Agate found only in four counties in the state is considered one of the most prized 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Salt Festival

The mineral rich water is boiled off leaving the salt crystals
    Just like the gathering of the long hunters and pioneers two centuries ago, folks gathered at Big Bone Lick State Park near Union, Kentucky on October 17-19 to celebrate the making of salt. That's correct, making of salt or more appropriately the rendering  of salt from the amazingly mineral rich waters that flow to the surface from thousands of feet beneath the ground in this unique place in northern Kentucky.
   
A music maker plays while merchants sell their wares

 The annual festival offers hundreds of school children on one day of the event as well as the general public, a chance to step back in time just for a few moments.  The experience allows one to understand a little better of the materials, inventions and ingenuity of our ancestors. There are folks around the country that reenact the life style down to the cooking, type of food and tools required to carry out the daily activities of living in the 1700's. Entertainment is also provided in the form of music fitting for the times and the folks demonstrating their skills are eager to answer questions, share information as well as perform.

Corn meal making demonstration
    Why a festival in honor of something that we scarcely consider other than checking the package of something to determine the amount of salt contained in the product.  Well, life in our world of North American has not always been that way.  There was a day that salt was one of the most precious commodities sought after in pioneer wilderness days.  Without salt, we all know, we cannot survive. It is a basic mineral required by our bodies to live. In pioneer times is was also the main way to preserve foods and tan hides.  Finding sources of the salt was a major concern for both Native Americans and the newly arriving colonials.
    There are a couple of other Salt related festivals I found by a quick Google search.  One festival is in Norway and one is in Saline Texas honoring the Morton Salt Company. The Salt Festival at Big Bone Lick State Park is the only one that pays tribute to the life and times of early Kentucky pioneers.

Big Bone Lick State Park alone is worth the trip and is perhaps the most famous around the world in the for the paleontology of the site.  Ancient mammoths, mastodons and a lot of other extinct species bones have been and are found at this site. You can learn a little more about the park in the article     Valley of Bones.
     The Salt Festival is an annual event held in October each year and has been held for several years. A good place to check for next years event would be at the Kentucky Events and Festivals Official Site. This is a great site covering all the upcoming scheduled events around the state.

    

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Treasure and Mystery

    Hello to all those who visit this site.  Welcome! Though it has been some time since I last posted, if your interest is in history, geology, treasure hunting or great places in the beautiful state of Kentucky take a look through the archives. There are many interesting topics to explore.
    Of course, I also use this site to promote my historic novel that deals with Kentucky and mysterious treasure.  Based on the most famous and oldest legend in Kentucky the novel is a thrilling tale of discovery and deceit. From the very beginning the reader is taken on two adventures, one of modern day treasure hunters and their fantastic discoveries as well has difficult choices. The second adventure covers much of Kentucky's early history from the days of Daniel Boone, John Finley and James Harrod. The historic records of the times and geographical locations are factual. Only the imaginative words depicting how things might have developed in the state in an alternate course have been added to the historical record.
    I invite you to order your copy in paperback or download to your reading device from your favorite book store or even easier, order right here from the publisher, Booklocker.com  and of course Amazon.com

   I truly believe you will enjoy this book especially if you like treasure hunting and solving mysteries. Explore the unusual rock formations of Kentucky, the unique geology and the bountiful history in Swift.

I invite questions or comments anytime. Just post your question and maybe others will join the conversation.