Dec 23, 2011, 10:55 PM
.... Never Ever Give Up ....
Interesting Facts and Tales of The Red River Gorge
Interesting Facts and Tales of The Red River Gorge Area
by: Joe Ward
Nill Willes is said to have been the first man to settle in the Red River Gorge area. He came to the region through Campton, Wolfe County, Kentucky, which he named because it was the area where John Swift camped. Legend has it that he outwitted a band of Indians chasing him by leaping over the side of an arch and hiding there.
At Chimney Top Creek, at the Red River, there was a boatyard. It was operated by Powell Rose in 1850. He built the boats from white oak trees and filled them with coal and floated them to Clay City and Winchester. Sometimes he floated them to Frankfort or Lexington where he sold the coal and barge and then walked home. At Wolfpen Creek there was a coal seam 23 to 25 inches thick. The coal supplied the Gorge residents and a rolling mill.
A half-mile from Rockbridge on Swift Camp Creek is a place called Hell's Kitchen. This site is one of the earliest logging camps in the Gorge. This camp got its name because of the terrain of the area and the long wait for the food being cooked there. This is where the crews assembled and waited for the spring floods to come and float the logs downstream.
John Swift was in the Gorge in 1693. The legend claims that Swift had worked in silver mines in the area for the Indians and managed to get out some of the silver and placed it in the Red River Gorge. Later in life, Swift went blind and tried to find his silver. He told his companion where to look, but he could not find it.
Another story is that Swift had raided Spanish ships and brought the silver to the Gorge and melted it down, taking some of it east. When he was asked where he got the silver he told he got it west of the mountains of Kentucky.
Another part of this legend is interesting and may lend credence to the first story. In the early 20th century some Indians came to Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky, and told they were there to get some silver from the mines. As the Indians went about their business, people tried to follow them but lost their trail. Later the Indians passed back through Irvine carrying sacks of silver.
In the latter part of the 19th century there was a woman known as Lady Timmons in the Red River Gorge. She was there to try to find the lost Swift Silver Mine. Lady Timmons and her husband were wealthy, and they spent their money trying to find the lost mine. They had hired help to find th esilver. During the time when they were looking, Lady Timmons' husband died. She went on looking for the silver, but as her money dwindled, her workers and friends started to leave her. She is buried in the Calaboose section of the Gorge near her dog. In 1873 she was 43 years old. After some time passed, the area where she was digging became known as Timmons digguns.
The Nada Tunnel located in the Gorge was built for the Dana Lumber Company. It is 13'x12'x900'. The work started on November 22, 1910, with a contract with a company called Swift and Weaver, who were railroad contractors from West Virginia. The tunnel was to go through the ridge between Moreland Branch and Grays Branch. The tunnel was used by the L&E Railroad for the logging industry. The work began at $2.60 per cubic yard for the tunnel excavation and 45 cents per cubic yard on the approach. On March 6, 1911, Swift and Lacey contracted with a firm called Fletcher & Snodgrass to begin work on the east side of the tunnel. The tunnel was worked from both sides of the mountain. The east side was paid $2.34 per cubic yard on the approach and moving not less than 24 yards per day, until they met the Dana work crew. Swift and Lacey failed to complete the contract after moving 1,757 yards of earth from the tunnel. Dana assumed control of the project on May 13, 1911. Swift and Lacey went bankrupt on June 6th. Dana put Simmons in charge of the project. The tunnel was completed on September 14, 1911, and was in use in 1912. The track supported 25 and 30-ton climax engines and is known as the gateway to the Gorge.
Charlie McNabb was killed in the tunnel when he tried to thaw out frozen dynamite by placing it near a campfire in a nearby rockhouse. A man named *"Townsend"* was wounded during the explosion and a dog was killed.
James Spencer from the west side was responsible for setting the blast to blow the tunnel. When he lit the wet dynamite it exploded, and it is told that the only thing left of him was his mustache found in a tree.
Floyd Brewer remembered the McNabb tragedy and that a man named Will Asher got both his legs cut off by a train. A John Smith was said to have been the first man to crawl through the tunnel. Engineering people have said the shots were put in wrong and the blasters said they followed the flagging that was put up by the engineers. Each group blames the other for why the tunnel is offset. Orlando Rogers was the first man to drill the blast holes on the eastside for the dynamite. There is an overhang on the east side where there was a two-room house run by a man named Axle Grayson and his family. Meals were cooked there for the crews. The wood was brought in by train and carried over the mountain. One room was a kitchen and the other a dining room.
In the Gorge there is a cabin called the D. Boon Hut. The cabin measures 15x10x4 feet and is located inside a rockhouse. On one of the boards of the cabin is inscribed D. Boon. There have been items found at the site that are associated with a nitre mine from 1805 to 1814 during the war of 1812. The controversy of the site is because there is a man who claimed that the board was done in the early 20th century. Also, the location of the hut would make an escape from the Indians difficult of that time.
In a cemetery near Nada there is the grave of Thomas Dehart. He came to the Gorge area from Bedford, Virginia, in 1839. He settled in a hollow near the Nada community. He hunted the Gorge with his father. It is said DeHarts had a role in development of Natural Bridge State Park in 1926. Thomas climbed Pyramid Rock, which is very difficult, and left two gold coins there for anyone who could climb the rock and get them. Before he died in 1940, he picked out his coffin and lined it with the skin of a bear he had killed on his last hunt. It is told that with his dogs on Edwards Branch, he cornered the largest bear he ever saw, and it took over 11 shots to kill it.
In the Gorge near Pitch-Em-Tight lived a woman called the "Devil Woman of the Red River Gorge." She was a mean old woman and was widely known for her swift kicking. In those days everyone in the family helped out to survive. One summer day she and her two sons went to the top of a cliff to gather blueberries that were abundant. Devil Woman let her sons go up the cliff first. She had a little trouble in one of the tight spots, but she managed to make it up. On the way down, she again had her sons to go first. When she started down, she got stuck. When her sons saw she was stuck and couldn't get free, they ran home. A few days later, after she lost some weight she managed to free herself. There were some problems when she got home. This is how Pitch-Em-Tight got its name.
Just below Clifty Creek on the Red River there is a place called Roundabout. During a tide on June 26, 1882, there was enough water in the creek to cause the river to almost flow backwards, hence the name Turnabout.
The Mountain and Central Railroad had a good record of safety in the Red River Gorge until the evening of October 21, 1904. Engineer Smith had trouble controlling his train with four cars. While going down a steep grade on Whittleton Branch, the train sped up, despite putting on the brakes. Charles Lyrhe, the conductor, who saw the danger of the cars jumping the tracs, jumped onto the cars and applied sand on the tracks to try and slow the train. William McNabb, a brakeman, did the same thing. The train was about one-half mile from the crest when it crashed. Lythe and Smith were caught beneath the engine, and death was instantaneous. A Joseph Derickson, who was a sawmill engineer, was on a car loaded with crossties. In the crash he was caught under them and his legs were crushed. He was able to tell the rescuers the quickest way to remove the ties. Later, Derickson shook their hands and died. This railroad line was in operation for six years and often hauled nine cars on the steep grade without an accident.
Dec 23, 2011 10:55 PM
Dec 30, 2011, 04:13 PM
Having the time of my life!
Re: Interesting Facts and Tales of The Red River Gorge
has anyone seen the newspaper article that was printed in the 1800s that says Timmonds actually was digging beside one of Swift's mines, as they had blasted the original one shut accidentally? all the landmarks can be found near there according to the article.
Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.
Search tags for this page
deaths at red river gorge
facts about red river gorge
interesting facts about gorges
interesting facts about the red river
interesting facts about the red rivers
red river gorge deaths
red river gorge facts
red river gorge haunted
red river gorge mines
tales of the red river gorge
Click on a term to search for related topics.