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The Red River Gorge-Ground Zero

    Thanks for visiting my blog site. Here you will find among other things, some interesting background about the legend of John Swift's silver mines. Especially in the area of the Red River Gorge which I would consider ground zero for the legend. This is one of the hottest regions for the treasure search. There are other places in Kentucky that provide the potential hiding place of the elusive treasure, if it indeed ever existed. Serious searches have identified many places around the state, Eastern Tennessee, and Western Virginia. Landmarks and clues can be found in all three places. 
    I have written a novel that is based on the famous legend but has some unique historical twists. I invite you to go to my publishers site here and read an except from the book and if you like it purchase your own copy!
Michael Paul Henson
    I am the cousin of the late Michael Paul Henson who searched for the treasure and more importantly wrote extensively about the treasure and treasure hunting in general. He had probably seen most every version of the famous Swift Journal that have passed down through families over the past 200 years. He actually owned copies of many of the various journals. I recall one of the last times I saw him, that he believed the ore deposits were a little farther south than the Red River country. He believed the ore deposits, at least, were somewhere in Jackson County area.  He died before he had the chance to satisfactorily produce the evidence to others. 
    Now you might wonder why I insist the gorge as ground zero. Well, there are a few good clues that have been left by the journals and there have been some rather unusual historical events as well.
   Let's consider the journal. Michael Paul thought through his decades of research that there were more than 43 versions of the journal! And they cover every kind of clue; three streams, buffalo rocks, haystack rocks, lighthouses, turtleback rocks, Indian stairways, leaning rocks, hanging rocks, myrtle thickets, halfmoon rocks and the list goes on. Streams, mountain ranges and certain places are named.  All place the mine workings south of the Ohio River and west of the Allegheny Mountains. 
Wolfe County Courthouse
    Now the history part of the puzzle adds some more unusual mystery. For example the town of Campton, originally thought to be called Camp Town was so named because it was established on the site of what pioneers claimed was Swift's principal campsite when he and his company of men were supposedly in the wilderness mining, smelting and striking counterfeit English Crowns. There is even a historical sign on the court house grounds in Campton today that says as much.
One of the Dehart Arches in RR Gorge
     Swift claims in one version of his journal you can see the sky through the cliff. "We call the place Sky Rock," Swift's journal records. The mines are in the cliff beyond the sky rock. There are many such bridges n the Red River area. The arch shown here is one of the famous Dehart arches at Nada. Standing in this arch looking across the valley massive rock formations with ledges fit the descriptions. Once through this arch there is a box canyon and another true lighthouse across the valley. Here it was reported that Steve Dehart actually dug sand and rock out of the newly forming arch to open it all the way through the cliff providing access to the next valley over. In fact these type rock formations exist all along the exposed sandstone conglomerate outcrop extending north of the Red River country all the way into Tennessee. 

Buffalo Arch in the Big South Fork Area

    There are rock formations and arches in the southern part of the state as well such as the Buffalo arch and many more. There are many who consider the supposedly silver mines and treasure are located much further south than the Gorge area and have just as many landmarks and claims for such existence as those elsewhere. As mentioned before a few other states have strong traditions relating to the Swift legend. Eastern Tennessee, especially in the Jellico Mountain area has provided many possible site locations, if the treasure truly exists.Our good friend Mike Steely, author of Swift's Silver Mine even found a real silver arrowhead in one of the shelters located in that region.  This is a great collection of treasure stories including the Swift legend.
    The Red River Gorge perhaps has been the most famous and most searched area of all the locations. All the land marks are there in this rugged, pristine wilderness. To my knowledge no one has ever made "the" discovery of veins of pure silver ore. Coins and silver items have been found around all the potential areas over the years but no veins of silver. Even though old silver coins and I have heard silver ingots have been found, no one has conclusively produced a silver mine. Swift in his journal devoted a lot of time describing the silver ore locations. There are modern searches still following the elusive clues in the Gorge area hoping to do what no one has been able to do for the past 200 years, discover the lost silver mines of John Swift.


  1. Did some traveling around Wolfe, Meniffee, and Morgan Counties searching for waterfalls and interesting places and local legends.
    Researched a place called Gold Mine Falls. Doc Duff of Chavies, KY operated a mine at this site in the 1940's. Interviewed folks that actually saw the site. The 3 mines are still visible. I wrote an article about it in Kentucky Explorer Magazine a few years ago.

  2. That is very interesting. I will try and find the article you wrote and share with others. If you can direct me to which year and issue I would appreciate it very much. In the meantime, any other local legends you would like to share send them my way. Thanks for your comment.


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