Skip to main content

Follow the Turkey Track - Excerpt from "Swift"

Finally, after what seemed like hours of driving, they reached the graveled parking lot and Rock Bridge picnic area. From the edge of the parking lot was the trail head. Will, Jennifer and Ray quickly grabbed a bottle of water each and headed down the trail. The Rock Bridge trail led the three adventurers off down a short half mile walk down the crest of a ridge. The obviously well used path brought the trio to one of the most famous and most unusual rock formations in all the country. Here the creek had completely eroded through the sandstone conglomerate rock creating a ‘rock bridge’ across the creek. Ray had seen it before and immediately scrambled up the rocky outcrop and made his way out on the bridge. In a matter of seconds Ray located the odd carving.
            “Hey, here it is,” Ray yelled.
            Will and Jennifer climbed up the rocks to see, for what they had traveled this far and spent a Saturday morning searching. Ray had seen this track before and wanted the others to see it and compare it to the one carved on the rock wall at Pilot Knob.  
            “This turkey track has been here for as long as anyone can remember,” Ray added.
            “It looks just like the one on the rock wall,” Jennifer remarked.
            “Well, this’n here is supposed to point the direction to the John Swift silver mine, at least that is what some of the treasure hunters claim. This is Swift Creek you know,” Ray explained.
            “Swift Creek!” Will commented in surprise.
            “Named for the John Swift’s Silver Mine?” Jennifer questioned.
            “Yep, sure is Swift Creek. There is a historical marker on the court house lawn in Wolf County that says as much. In fact, I do believe we are in Wolf County right now. I think Swift Creek starts up there around the town of Campton somewhere,” Ray spouted out. Suddenly Ray Deevers was a virtual encyclopedia on the story of John Swift. Ray had recalled nearly everything he had learned in his limited exposure to the Swift legend. Will was a bit embarrassed that he had never heard of the Swift legend, especially since he had studied geology. He never spent much time in eastern Kentucky where the legend is solidly established, and because his geology schooling was out of state, he really was learning about Kentucky geology in his hobby of exploring. Jennifer had seen an occasional newspaper story on the subject, and had heard her dad talk about the story from time to time.
            “People have spent a lot of time and effort searching these hills for those lost silver mines. A natural rock bridge crossing the creek would seem to me to figure into a good marker for finding the way to the mines, I would imagine,” Ray continued.
            “Which way is the turkey track pointing?” Will asked as he aligned himself with the track.  
            “Well, that depends which direction you think it was intended to point. Most of the people I know seem to think the track points in the direction the track is headed as if it were a real bird track left by a turkey walking. The middle toe, so to speak,” Ray pointed toward the carving with his finger and gestured his hand in a smooth motion pointing and standing at the same time “looks to me to point up that ridge,” Ray explained.
            “That is a westerly direction, I think,” Will noted.
            “That is where we came from, right?” Jennifer asked. She knew directions as well as Will and Ray but she was being sarcastic as they had driven two hours east just to reach this spot. Jennifer was not as impressed with the turkey track as Will and Ray were but she was fascinated with the rock bridge and had already begun to climb down in order to take some photographs. This was the only place in the region that a completely natural stone arch span across a major creek. Will and Ray sat in the middle of the rock bridge for a good while, flipping twigs and loose quartz pebbles into the lazy creek below.   


Popular posts from this blog

Broke Leg Falls

For sure one old landmark in eastern Menifee County Kentucky is Broke Leg Falls. The Falls has been a tourist stop along US Hwy 460 since the 1940's and before. It was a place for picnics and adventures into the rough rocky terrain the likes of the Red River Gorge. It's location on once a major highway along with the pristine beauty of the box canyon that the stream formed no doubt contributed to the popularity of the Falls.
    The Falls is about 80 feet in height but much of the year has a small water flow. But over eons of time the Falls and stream have carved out a magnificent canyon retreating nearly to the crest of the ridge.
    Located in Menifee County Kentucky, Broke Leg Falls has been a popular tourist spot for travelers of the US Highway which is located only a few yards from the falls. A popular landmark since the 1940's, the Falls was privately owned. Visitors could pay a dime and get to hike the short distance down into the box canyon to view the Falls…

The High Rock Petroglyph

What do you think the strange symbols carved on this sandstone boulder represent? The High Rock Carving is certainly one of the most mysterious antiquity found in the Red River Gorge country.  We did a previous post  about this strange rock in August, 2012. Discovered underneath a small rock shelter near the High Rock fire tower, the carvings were discovered on one loose boulder in the shelter. In the late 70's the boulder was removed from the rock shelter by the Red River Museum and Historical Society placed at the museum in Clay City, Kentucky. It was felt that vandals and artifact collectors would soon end up destroying the unusual carved stone. In fact some of the surface appears to have been chipped away, perhaps portions already removed by vandals.    The carvings have many varied, curved shapes including concentric circles and shapes that may represent animals. Additionally, there are numerous holes and other features. Some of the rock has been lost likely by the weathering …

Swift Interview

It was a very interesting day April, 26. A production crew from KET (Kentucky Educational Television) taped a segment of yours truly discussing the background and lore around the famous legend of John Swift and his mysterious silver mines and treasure. I met up with the crew at Sky Bridge in the Red River Gorge and after a short hike down beneath the rock arch they video taped me discussing what I have come to know about the search and treasure.
    Basically, the short segment will focus more on the legends background and how long the story has been around rather than giving clues on searching for the supposedly hidden treasure. I hope that viewers will take away the importance of the history of the legend and not the debate whether silver and the mines ever existed. As I note in the interview, the beauty of the whole legend is just how long the search has been going on and how the legend originated at least as early as the first famous pioneers entered the wilderness that was to…