Skip to main content

Kentucky's Strange Rocks

Old mining workings in Elliot County
     Ask any geologist that knows anything about the geology of Kentucky and they will quickly tell you this state is composed nearly completely of sedimentary rocks, primarily limestones and shales, with sand particle sized stone in many places. The key word here is nearly.   There are exceptions dispersed through out the state. One such anomaly can be found in Elliot County.  Here an igneous intrusion surfaced exposing a ruby/garnet producing rock called peridotite.  This stone is known to produce diamonds around the world.  In fact, the
the Kentucky Kimberlite Diamond Mining
Peridotite found in Eastern Kentucky
Company established a mining operation here in 1907.  Over the years others explored the area until the last serious mining effort was conducted by the Kentanna Minerals Company in 1965-70.  For
 many years the remains of apparatus used in the mining operation set on the outcrop of strange and hopefully rich mother load of diamonds and rubies.  The rock is a black, dense rock, composed mainly of olivine with fragments of garnets and an occasional ruby dispersed throughout the  material. The workings are on private property, and since this post, I have discovered that this property belongs to the family of Matthew Sellers.  Mr. Sellers was one of the first pioneers in aviation.  In fact, he made the first powered flight in Kentucky in 1908.  And actually, flew a glider before the Wright Brothers!  Matthew Sellers' granddaughter, Barbara Sellers has written a wonderful  book entitled "A Moment in Time" that should be read by every Kentuckian.
     There were many other operations following specifically the trail of the legend including this one on the South Fork of the Red River.  Mr. Tipton, in the construction helmet, convinced that he had isolated the vein of silver ore thought to be that of Swift's. The site did produced silvery minerals, but no major discovery was ever reported.
Unidentified rock from the diggings above appears to be pyrite

     Out in western Kentucky deposits of fluorite have been mined for many years.  These deposits are thought to be the result of igneous activities depositing the minerals in the sedimentary rocks that comprise much of the area. People have collected many beautiful flourite crystals from around the region over the years.  The Ben E. Clements Mineral Museum in Marion, Kentucky is said to have the largest collection of fluorite crystals on display in the world.

Fluorite Crystals found in Livingston County
Basically, there are exceptions to the most common geological materials in Kentucky.  While the states' mineral resources are primarily coal and limestone, there have been unusual anomalies discovered across the area.  With that in mind, one cannot positively rule out the possibility that out there somewhere, hidden from detection, still remains buried treasure.  To put in Swift's words, "...don't ever stop looking for a peculiar rock that stands near a stream with three forks, it's near the richest mine I ever saw."

Comments

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…

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…

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 …