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The Cloud Splitter

The Cloud Splitter in the distance as seen from Chimney Rock
     Sometimes I get asked if the Indian Stairway and the Cloud splitter are the same cliff. They are not but they are located in the same general area of the gorge. Here is a link to a map which gives a good indication of the proximity of the two landmarks.
Chimney Rock in RR Gorge
     The two rocks do have a similar appearance but only the stairway has ancient carved steps. The cloud splitter, on the other hand, is a neat climb and offers grand views of the Red River country.The shot here was made from the lookout on top of the Chimney rock, perhaps next to Sky bridge, the most famous landmark in the Red River Gorge. The Indian stairway, shown below, is sloped enough to provide access from the ridge top and the valley below. To see a short (less than a minute) video clip of actually climbing down the stairway go here.
View of Indian Stairway

    These landmarks are located in the one of the most famous of the Swift legend areas. All types of clues from different variations of the Swift journal refer to various rock formations and landmarks. 
    Some archaeologist now speculate that the Indian steps were not made by prehistoric peoples at all but rather from historic nitre   mining operations. Nitre,once was mined from the rock houses that are located in abundance throughout the Gorge. The substance was an essential ingredient in making gun powder. The theory offered up by modern archaeologists proposes that the steps were carved for the the miners to carry off the loads of the precious material. The idea revolves around the relative rapid rate of weathering and erosion of the sandstone. That may well be the case but personally with the identified Adena shelter located just above the stairway, I cling to the prehistoric theory.


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