Thursday, September 07, 2006

Swift Silver Mine Legend

This morning as I crawled out of my bed I remembered a story that took place several years. As I sat there thinking about the time my close friends and I went spelunking through the caverns around Debusk Mill I thought of one of the reasons that stirred us to crawl through the earth, treasure. For some reason Sean had told us about a lost silver treasure which was said to be hidden in the hills of Southwest Virginia and for a group of teenage boys that simple thought was enough to send us out looking. Treasure is one of those things for a young boy that stirs in us. To find hidden treasure could mean that you joined the ranks of great pirates, cowboys, and travelers. But, more than that it meant that you were out looking. This feeling is called “The Chase.”
What I remember of the story and with the help of a little research today Sean clued us into the life of a man named George William Swift. Swift was a former mariner born in Salisburg, England, in 1689 and also is said to have been involved in establishing New Orleans. Swift left the sea to become a silver miner in Virginia. After settling in Portsmouth, Swift came onto the opinion of finding and working a silver mine in the Appalachian mountains where he started his trek into the woods. This is the part of the story where the written journal Swift carried documented the journey like a map. But, as you might see the way Swift wrote of his steps could send a treasure seeker anywhere in the Appalachian Mountains. Because of the vague descriptions the Swift treasure hunters spent time in the hills of Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia along with many treks in Virginia. It is also said that a doctor from North Carolina made his way to Georgia in 1932 to look for this great treasure, but feeling like he was closing in on the loot suffered a heart attack and died.
Swift works the Silver Mine for more than a year but started to get concerned about the growing presence of Indians around the mine and so closed for the time being. Part of the location and the treasure is mentioned in Swift’s journal, “We buried one poney load of silver pig. These pigs was buried just below the Rock House at the small creek and water fall with large stones placed over them. French ladles were buried in sand near smelter, the ore was found in a gray stone or rock and contained iron, silver, and copper and lead with a sand stone ledge lying near by. The mouth of the mine is as large as three French sailor's hogs-heads or barrels and dropping down in the ground ten feet then made on a level….The mine was bounded on the west by a creek and a big blur spring containing Indian heads in various shapes. Bound on the north by a long bald mountain, on the east by a creek and haystack nobs starting in a valley bottom, resembling hay stack. South by a buffalo and deer lick basin. On the south by a gap of haystack or potato knobs laying between the 36th and 38th degrees of latitude. As shown by my French quadrant, it was in a southwestern direction from Kent, a small trading post on the York River on the London Company's grant. Was westward from Portsmouth and due south across to Mocasona, Indian pass or gap in the barren top mountain, south as straight as a crow could fly 20 miles to Mocasonsa.” After several years away from the mine Swift grew blind and lost his sense of direction to the mine he worked so hard in and offered to any partner half of the treasure who could help him retrace his steps and follow the clues he had written.
Many variations of this legend have now appeared and at the time Sean informed us that before Swift left the mine he had hired two men to help him carry part of the treasure out of the mountain pass to burry it in another location. The story goes that he shot and killed these two men that now guard the treasure.
What a story for a kid as Swift suggest, “Boys, don't never quit looking for it. It's the richest thing I ever saw.”

If you want more of the details of this legend
please look at part of his journal found here.

Other great sites of the Swift Silver mine are here.
Dickenson County Net

Roots Web

Elkhorn City

History Mystery: John Swift's Lost Silver Mine
written by Jerry McDonald

Image by

Quotes by Scott Partin


gberg said...

Can anybody tell me where Debusk Mill is? If so please e-mail me at thanks

Anonymous said...

Elkhorn City Eastern Kentucky’s Best Kept Secret

Elkhorn City is a small town located in Pike County, Kentucky near the Virginia state line. Elkhorn City seats at the mouth of the fabulous "Breaks of the Cumberland Gorge" within 3 miles of the Breaks Interstate Park. In fact Daniel Boone first steps in Kentucky in 1767 were near Elkhorn City, in the Potter Flats area of the Breaks Interstate Park.
The small town of Elkhorn City has long been one of the best-kept secrets of the Appalachian Mountains. Lying at the confluence of the Russell Fork River and Elkhorn Creek between three mountains, its layout and scenic appeal has delighted countless travelers on their way to the Breaks Interstate Park.

It is the home town of Patti Lovelace the famous County music artist.
Lighted walkways through downtown include a paved track along the river-front, which also serves as a bird and duck sanctuary. There is also a picturesque iron bridge spanning the Russell Fork River that once routed carriages and early autos into the downtown area.
The Railroad Museum, near the north end of the bridge, is a rare facility that celebrates and preserves Elkhorn City’s early days as a railroad town. The museum, run entirely by volunteers and donations, has been lauded in news features across the Appalachian region as a must-see. Both railroad enthusiasts and tourists enjoy this public treasure.
Elkhorn City hosts major festivals each year. Among them are the Apple Blossom Festival in May, the Fourth of July Celebration, and Christmas in the City. The Apple Blossom Festival attracts visitors from throughout the region for crafts, music, rides, and tours. The Fourth of July Celebration brings residents together for fun on the Elkhorn City beach along the Russell Fork River. From the riverside, a fantastic fireworks display may be viewed as it emanates from high on one of hills overlooking town.
Year round white water paddlers come from all over the country to challenge the 200 feet per mile descent of the Russell Fork Gorge. In October, rafters come to take on the Gorge. Visitors and enthusiasts hike into the gorge that splits the Breaks Interstate Park and the Pine Mountain Range to witness the skill and tenacity of those accepting the challenge.
Elkhorn City’s newest attraction is the Pine Mountain Trial, a purposed linear state park and Hiking and horseback riding trial that will begin in Elkhorn City and follow the crest of Pine Mountain 120 miles to Jellico Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

can anyone tell me if has ever been found i have heard rumors that part of it has been found

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Anonymous said...

Wanna know what's weird working the oil and gas sites in dodridge co wv I've several possabillites for these treasures but am waitting on my vacation too do them sure would make my day as I'm also hot on that $ on central station with the land owners permission said keep what you find and will I ever as I've found partial mail sacks floating around good luck too you all too