Images of Burke’s Garden, Virginia (40 Photos)

Here’s a look at an Amish community that’s among the most isolated of all – the one at Burke’s Garden, Virginia.

Some of you will remember I visited this place last Thanksgiving. I actually made two stops in this community – once on the way up to Holmes County, and once again on Thanksgiving morning on the way home to NC. Today’s photos were all taken on Thanksgiving morning.

For those that missed earlier posts, Burke’s Garden was formed from the collapse of limestone caverns collapse long ago (it’s not an extinct volcano, though you can see why some might think so). Only one paved road goes into the valley, through a twisting mountain pass.

There is a small Amish community here, comprising about 14 households. This is the actually the second settlement in this area. The first was founded in 1990 before dwindling out in 1999.

Over a decade later, Amish began arriving to settle the valley once again. This latest group started in 2012, and has ties to the Amish from Dover, Delaware.

I made a second stop back here to see the area more in the daylight and to drive around the remainder of the roads which ring the interior of the valley.

As you drive if you’ve got your eyes open you’ll notice Amish places scattered throughout the valley, tucked away here and there.


Cattle-raising is big business here.

I passed just one buggy on the road that morning.

All through the valley you’ll see these characteristic signs indicating where people live.

For some reason hex signs barn quilts* are prevalent throughout the community, but mainly (all?) on non-Amish places. *Thanks to readers who pointed out my mistake in naming these two similar-looking designs.

Up ahead, the pavement ends.

And eventually the road itself.

There are some abandoned homes in the valley. Here’s one of them coming…

And going.

There is an old post office in the center of the valley, which now houses the Burke’s Garden Artisan Guild.

“God’s Land.”

There are a couple of Amish food stores here – the General Store, and Mattie’s Place, which I did a post on as well. There are several other businesses, including a greenhouse and a cabinet shop.

Miller’s Wooden Crafts.

“Also the Handyman of the Garden.”

Here’s a sign off the main road in the valley. On an old door. I’m not sure if this is pointing to an Amish place or not.

The Central Lutheran Church with its cemetery on a hillside:

Finally, before I finish: If you read this post carefully, you may have caught at the top that I wrote there is only one “paved” road into the valley.

There is also a “back entrance” which is gravel, and according to what Mattie told me, a lot more windy than the paved way in. You can see what she means by this Google Maps shot:

Here’s the warning sign before you continue:

I only went up a little way, but was able to catch a few nice views over the valley.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through Burke’s Garden.

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    1. KimH


      Volcano’s? Community is in the crater of the volcano or it’s just a mountain that looks like one? I couldn’t tell.
      I bet that’s a fun road to ride a motorcycle on..
      Thanks for the views!!

      1. It certainly looks like an old volcano from above, doesn’t it. It’s very quiet and serene there – I would think a bicycle would fit better than a motorcycle in those environs. Mattie from Mattie’s Place actually rents bicycles and I think they are popular for people wanting to ride around the ring road in the valley.

    2. Lydia Good

      My kind of place!

      This is a lovely place. It’s like going back in time. I was reading a bit about it. Supposed to have very fertile soil. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the Amish are moving back there. Interesting how it got it’s name. From the sign you posted: (Burke’s Garden is named for James Burke who surveyed the region with James Patton by 1750. According to tradition, Burke buried some potato peelings in the region’s fertile soil during a survey. Sometime later another group camped at the same site and discovered the potatoes, resulting in the area becoming known as Burke’s Garden. Burke built a cabin nearby and lived here from 1753 till 1756 when the French and Indian War broke out.) If you look at aerial views of Burke’s Garden, it looks like the sunken area of a dormant volcano. I would love to drive down some of those dirt and gravel roads and visit Mattie’s Place, sit on the front porch taking in the view. Oh yeah, gotta love those road signs with names on them. Pretty sparsely populated.

    3. Chris marcantel

      Wish I was amish

      I’m very interested in your ways of living and life. Would like to visit even though I probably won’t ever get a chance.

    4. Alice Mary

      Eerily beautiful photos, Erik. Some, downright spooky!

      When you mentioned hex signs, at first I thought you were referring to the sign with “666” ! Glad I was wrong!

      Alice Mary

      1. That 666 caught my eye too. Some Amish live on that road. Part of it, at least, is also known as Litz Lane. I guess you can’t choose what they number your road!

    5. very pretty area and pictures

      when i get a chance i plan to visit this area myself from bristol va as far as i know no amish live near me but i enjoy reading about them and would love to be their guest stay on the farm few nights and see how it all run,one great learning experience if any does that,if not i can still visit their stores and areas i kind of wish i was amish all amish take care of each others families thats awesome.and they work harder on farms than any other farmer i think.thanks for all the posts and pictures i look forward to many more.

    6. Joyce Eikenberry

      Burke's Garden

      Lovely! Thank you for the tour. If I were any younger — and if my husband were still living — this looks like some place we would have loved to settle down.

    7. Burk's Garden

      I view those signs on the barns as quilt patterns. I don’t know why they would be called hex signs. I have to admit it is a very unique area and community. Again Erik I just remind you that you do need to make a trip to Jamesport, MO. At this time since we are home bound it would be great to receive a phone call from you. I believe I would really enjoy talking to you with all the traveling you have done to Amish settlements. I think you may still have my nbr 501-416-2164. Take care and as always I read most all of your posts. Even with my Amish back ground I find out new things I didn’t know before.

      1. Thanks Andy for pointing that out. My mix-up, I was careless in paying attention to that detail. I have updated the post accordingly. I also found this interesting article on hex signs and barn quilts:

        I did not forget but thanks for reminding me – I will give you a ring, will be glad to talk. I hope you are doing well with the stay-at-home situation now.

    8. Kevin Lindsey

      Great pictures, Erik, thanks for posting them. I do wonder the hex signs you saw might be barn quilts. They’re becoming quite popular ( we have 1 on our little barn). It just reminds me of a quilt square.

      1. Kevin thanks, you caught it too. I have updated the post above. Some hex signs have quilt-like patterns and that’s what led me astray:)

    9. Geo

      close knit

      I’d love to visit this place. You know it’s a close knit community from the personalized signs directing you to residents by name. The hex signs as I recall are not about quilts at all. Whatever reason these folks painted them, my understanding is that hex signs on the barn are traditionally intended to ward off evil spirits. If I had a farm on route 666 I might have a hex sign on my barn too. There is a route 666 in Arizona known as the devil’s highway.

    10. Shirley Cotterman

      images not showing

      I love receiving Amish America and look forward to reading them and seeing the pictures, however recently the images are no long showing. I didn’t see any of the images of the gardens. Could you tell me how to fix the problem? Would love to once again enjoy the photos.

      Shirley Cotterman

    11. Geo

      Sleepy Hollow

      Burke’s Garden makes me wonder if Washington Irving knew the place when he wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The look, the topography, and the atmosphere of the place is a perfect setting for the story. It almost belongs in 1820 when Sleepy Hollow was written. Shades of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman.

    12. Jerry

      Burke's Garden

      One of my favorite spots enhanced more by the addition of Amish. I grew up in Tazewell county and BG had family members on both my dad’s and mom’s side living there. Some still live there. In some spots the top soil is four feet deep compared to about seven inches in the rest of the county. My siblings take a day and explore every July 4th week. Last year I drove out on the secondary route. It was quite the challenge and passengers were often screaming and yelling.