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We called it the Light House

     There are so many version of the Swift Journal containing many landmarks that it can be downright confusing sometimes. Over the years, sifting through many variations there are few landmarks that seem common to all the different versions. One notable is the famous 'light house.'  Swift in describing one of the areas of his 'mines' claims to look  across the valley to cliff with a hole in it. "The slope across the hills west there is a big rock that looks like a buffalo rock. We cut our names on it: Swift,  Monday, Greser,Jefferson and others. You can stand on top of this hill above buffalo rock and look west through the hole in the top of the cliff and see the sky beyond. We called it the 'lighthouse.' Not far from the drying ground west we carved turkey tracks under a cliff pointing backwards to the mine." *
    The Red River Gorge country is famous for the numerous natural arch formations in the sandstone cliffs of the region. Of the hundreds in the area, two are more famous than all the rest and probably more visited each year than all the rest. One, of course is the famous Natural Bridge located near Slade, Ky. The second most notable arch is the beautiful Sky Bridge located on a ridge that overlooks the confluence of "Swift" Creek and the North Fork of the Red River.
    Yes, right there in the heart of the Swift country overlooking the very creek that is named for the legendary character are the landmarks described in his journals which tell of the amazing riches that supposedly still remain hidden somewhere in the wilds. No wonder this area became ground zero for the search decades ago. Since that time the search has expanded to other regions of the state and even to other states.  All have similar clues and landmarks.
   The  whole region of the Red River country is truly remarkable and certainly lends itself to all kinds of possibilities of discovery.
From the unofficial entrance to the gorge area, the Nada Tunnel, to the magnificence of the majestic Sky Bridge the landscape is wondrous.
    On this visit to Sky Bridge I discovered among the many names and symbols carved on the soft sandstone rock yet another turkey track pointing directly up the Swift Creek valley. With no way of knowing the age of the carving there is little evidence of anything other than someone at sometime took the time to carve a turkey track without any other information. Was it a traditional symbol pointing the way to something? The opposite direction from the Swift Creek side lies a huge rock cliff line with ledges, overhangs and boulders just like Swift described. Could the Sky Bridge be that light house, Swift mentioned?  Remember, it is on Swift Creek that the famous Rock Bridge is located which has another turkey track carved on the top of that bridge as well.  And Swift mentions a rock bridge that spanned a creek and he and his companions passed by that unusual formation headed for their precious mines.
    Aside from the search for the hidden treasure, the  Nada Tunnel itself is a marvel. Built in a mere nine months in 1910-11 it was built for the sole purpose of hauling the valuable timber from the remote gorge region by locomotive. Drilled by hand and steam drills the rock was blasted away with dynamite. One man was killed during the construction.  The tunnel provided a quick way to transport the timber wealth to the then largest sawmill in the world located at Clay City, Kentucky.
    On every trip I make into the Red River Gorge, it is always a thrill to drive through the Nada Tunnel passing by the cool spring that to this day furnishes fresh, mountain water to many folks in the immediate area. The spring has been there as long as I can remember and always tests as safe, pure water. 
    The mines may never be found. They may not even exist. But then again, there have been some discoveries of silver coins in various parts of the region. So whether these discoveries are connected to the Swift treasure or not will probably never be known. We do know that there in fact are 'light houses' located in the search zone.

*From a copy of Swift's Journal sent to C. E.Henson March 5 , 1962. The following handwritten note was written  in the margin: "Mr. Henson here's a copy of Swift's journal. I will contact you when I get to Louisville next trip – I want to see "settlers of SW Virginia." The note was signed by O.S. Green.


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