On the morning of Christmas Eve, I visited an Amish community in Summers County, West Virginia.
This is near the Virginia border, about a half hour’s drive from the Pearisburg, VA settlement. The town is Forest Hill.
The first place we came across was this double-business – Shady Hillside Variety Store and Kountry Crust Bakery.
Keeping things toasty.
On completing my purchase, I went outside and spoke with the owner Rudy Wengerd, who is originally from the Somerset County, PA settlement. A friendly and talkative fellow. He was going back to his home community later that afternoon to spend Christmas Eve with his family, the first time in 14 years. They would go in a fully loaded 15-person passenger van.
Other communities connected to this one are Marion County, Kentucky, and one in New York (I thought he said “Raysville” but that might not be right). The settlement has been here since 2006, so it sounds like Rudy was one of the first to come here.
The store has to be closed for about four months of the year, due to an issue with their method of waste water disposal, Rudy explained. I believe they get hit with this regulation because they run a bakery. We happened to be there on the last day until their reopening in Spring, so if you’re thinking about visiting, be aware of that.
This community is one that uses the SMV triangle. We talked about that with Rudy a bit. He was in favor of them. He also explained that construction was a big industry for the Amish in the area (Rudy does some, in addition to having the shop). They will travel some distance – up to 3 hours away (it sounds like they are in demand in the region) but he said in his church, they don’t permit the men to stay overnight for jobs. It is okay to stay overnight if they go to a horse sale, for example, or if the family is along.
At Rudy’s store we saw a sign for another business in the area. It’s not uncommon to see one Amish business advertise another, especially in these smaller settlements. So we set off in that direction.
After following a long winding road that went up and down the area’s hilly terrain we came to Peaceful Hollow Discount Groceries.
No one was around when we arrived.
Lots of expired but I assume still-edible food items.
Those are Taco Bell Cheese Crisps my brother is holding. Price: ten cents.
I found a girl from the house to take our money.
I noticed this notice of holiday closures on the way out:
There was another business on the property.
An empty garden patch in front of the home.
The community is in a very beautiful part of the country, an area I would call mountainous. Although it is the state’s largest Amish settlement – having in the neighborhood of 25-30 households – we were only able to find about four or five of them.
One of the most interesting places was this home with a sawmill. It was located at the bottom of a long winding road. There was a lot of smoke coming out of several chimneys of the various buildings on the property. If you ignore the siding material, this looks like something out of the 19th century.
Another home by the roadside. An Amishman was outside doing some welding at this place.
Was this an Amish place? It was hard to tell for sure through the trees. But the SMV triangle and the overall look of the place suggested it was.
With a four-hour-plus drive back to North Carolina, we couldn’t stay too long. This was my first visit to a West Virginia Amish community. You can see the weather wasn’t ideal. The scenery was still very nice even in the drizzle. I imagine this area is especially beautiful in the spring and autumn months in particular.