Jonathan Swift’s Long Lost Silver Mine- Found?

A few years ago I got to experience a special secret very few know about in the southeast Kentucky-southwest Virginia-eastern Tennessee region: a very old mine hidden by decades of grown up brush cut into the rock of Cumberland Mountain. I have no idea who owns the property now, but I will re-tell the story as it was told to me by the owner at the time. (Names are changed in the interest of protecting privacy.)

Entrance to possible secret silver mine, hand-dug in the Tennessee-Kentucky-Virginia tri-state region.

The property owner’s neighbor, Cédric, worked the mine decades ago. He claimed there was a seam of silver that was discovered to rise one inch a foot back in the mountain, and the seam went on for miles.

Looking down into the possible secret silver mine. Water prevents passage beyond approximately fifty feet.

The mine was being worked in approximately the 1930’s. Whether the ore being mined was silver or another type of valuable material, it was special enough that the miners placed the ore into wooden boxes before carrying it out of the mine and loading it into covered trucks, as if to keep the material being mined a secret. It was even more mysterious that the covered trucks waited until the cover of night had settled in to travel to their destination, never leaving the mine before midnight.

Inside the secret mine; view of the entrance

One night, the mysterious miners packed up and left without explanation. No one ever came back until approximately 20 years ago, when the owner received a sole request for permission to re-open the mine, a request which he denied.

Cédric, the old neighbor who had worked the mine, was rumored to have possessed a special healing ability. If a person got hurt and was bleeding bad, all someone had to do was tell Cédric and he could stop the bleeding, whether the person was in his presence or not.

We will probably never know if this is a true iron oxide-copper-gold seam.

The owner himself lived in the same valley as a child at the time the mine was being worked. He disclosed that he, his brother and father saw what he reported as a “searchlight in the sky, making a big, wide circle around them.” They witnessed this light several times in the night sky during the 1930s and 1940s.

Petrospheres Discovered During Tunnel Excavation

A petrosphere is a perfectly round stone sphere that could only have been made by human hands. They are considered rare occurrences and almost always are prehistoric; examples are the Costa Rican petrospheres and Scottish petrospheres.

A May 1993 article from the newspaper, Kentucky New Era, “Cumberland Gap tunnel to boast modern design,”  describes what can only be petrospheres, discovered when engineers began digging through the rock of Cumberland Mountain to form the tunnel. The engineers’ work revealed a “maze of limestone caverns.” In one of these caverns the petrospheres were found:

…perfectly rounded chert rocks were found mysteriously stacked in a careful pyramid, the way cannonballs might have been stacked years ago. That cave was nicknamed “the cannonball room,” said project engineer David Robinson. (1)

Here’s the conundrum: how did this rock formation, obviously human made, get 1000 feet or more below the mountain if there was no access to this cavern until the tunnel was excavated? 

Efforts so far to locate the eyewitness mentioned in the newspaper article, engineer David Robinson, have failed.

Even though Dan Brown, a former Park historian for Cumberland Gap National Park, was not aware the petrospheres had been found, he said in a recent phone interview that the formation could be a cairn used by prehistoric people for ancient burial:

They used stone cairns. I’ve run across those, and they’re older than Cherokee. The stone cairns for burial, as a matter of fact, we had a whole hillside of them at [Brushy] Mountain [Georgia]: we could never get a date on it- cause there were no artifacts within it that we could determine…why we didn’t get any positive dating: we found evidence of [a] crematorium…a rocky area adjacent to the site, right on the site… tests that were done had repeated high intensity fire on the rock. This would have been Woodland period probably, maybe even Archaic. But they were cremating their dead and then putting whatever remains there were, somehow, inside these rock cairns…Some of these rock cairns were probably three and four thousand years old. (2)

Is it possible the pyramid of petrospheres discovered during the Cumberland Gap Tunnel excavation were also part of an ancient burial ground? And how ancient could this site be, if no entrances to this cave existed in modern times prior to the tunnel excavation? Most importantly, what fate befell the “cannonball room” and the mysterious pyramid of perfectly rounded stones? Were workers allowed to carry the stones off as souvenirs? Did they simply bulldoze the pyramid over to make way for the mile long thoroughfare under the Gap?

I am going to continue to work to find the answers to these questions.

Ironically, Brown says it was a government construction project that ultimately sealed the fate of the archaeological site on the long, low ridge of Brushy Mountain, Georgia. While performing “salvage archaeology”, otherwise known as “archaeology in front of the bulldozers,” on an earthwork that was a fortification of the 1st Minnesota Battery, he and a Cobb County archaeologist discovered the ancient cairns.

You had to be a big brouhaha and we couldn’t save it. I had to watch them bulldoze probably one of the most gorgeous battery positions on the Park. And they kept it very quiet, and they even sneaked it in on the county archaeologist. They couldn’t have done it today. Because…the burial sites would have stopped them. Once we hit those rock cairns, today, you got to stop.

 

(1) “Tunnel to boast modern design”, Kentucky New Era, May 13, 1993
http://tinyurl.com/tunnel-to-boast-modern-design

(2) Personal communication, Dan Brown, June 3, 2015

The Dinosaur of Bell County, Kentucky

An eyewitness account from the miner who saw the dinosaur fossil:

The time period was approximately fifteen years ago, around 2000. The place: Rock House. The miner worked for a company that did highwall mining, and his job was to place the explosive charges that blew off the face of the rock to reveal the coal.

After setting off one set of charges, his boss radioed him and said “Get up here and get up here now!” The miner decided he had made an error and was about to get chewed out by the boss. But when he got there, the boss said, “Put more charges here, here and here…and do it NOW!”

When the miner looked, he couldn’t believe his eyes. There in the rock wall was a perfect image of a dinosaur- head, body, tail. He said, “It was just like someone had took a can of black spray paint and painted a perfect picture of a dinosaur on the rock.” It was huge.

However, he knew what his boss was thinking- the whole operation would be shut down over this: jobs lost and families left without income. The company would lose millions.

He had no choice but to follow orders: he placed the charges, and within moments the pristine fossil was decimated, never to be seen again.

Although this is not related to the tunnel conspiracy, it is worth mentioning this tremendous loss for Bell County, the state of Kentucky, and the world.

gastropod fossils painted bluff tennessee river marshall co al 1

The photo above was taken by Alan Cressler. These are gastropod, or, snail or slug, fossils. Note how the fossils look like a spray painted black design, just like the miner described how the dinosaur fossil appeared. For more fantastic cave pictures like this, visit Alan’s Flickr page here.