Growing up in the hills of West Virginia, many of my memories of traveling the state are lined with the sight of three giant crosses gracing the hilltops along the way to and from. These crosses scattered all over Appalachia and the rest of the U.S. are because of one man’s vision from God.
Coal tycoon turned devout fanatic, Bernard Coffindaffer received a “genuine, marvelous, glorious vision” from the Lord while recovering from open heart surgery in 1984. For the final nine years of his life that followed, he spent roughly $3,000,000 constructing and erecting these three crosses as a silent reminder of Jesus Christ and, what he thought would be, His soon coming return. Each piece of land used for Coffindaffer’s mission was forever deemed “Holy Land” by him and his followers once the crosses were blessed. The use of the land was simply on a permission basis to Coffindaffer from the land owner.
Throughout his calling, he was met with praise and criticism locally and nationally. Whether driven by divine insanity or the Holy Spirit, he never stopped. However in 1993, after assembling almost 2,000 sets of crosses in 29 states and having cents left in his bank account, Bernard Coffindaffer died of a heart attack at the age of 68. His legacy left for what or who ever was coming next.
Nowadays few Coffindaffers are left in Nicholas County, where I grew up. Even fewer are the reminders of this point man for God’s existence besides his military gravestone. No plaques, no statues, and no mention of the Coffindaffer in conversation. Only his crosses remain as we drive to and from counting them along the way.
Watauga Lake is a Tennessee Valley Authority Resovoir located in the far northeast corner of Tennessee. The lake is located on some of the most beautiful land in the Cherokee National Forest. The Appalachian Trail is accessible from the west and northwest side of the lake and affords great views for those willing to scale the steep section of Iron Mountain. A number of activities are available from fishing, swimming, boating, wakeboarding, skiing, camping, hiking to just plain ol’ relaxing.
There is no timber left in Cedar City, Utah. Still, there are plenty of “wall hanger” saws for sale at $25 each at Betty’s Antiques on South Main Street. Betty’s shop is a rusty testament that the commercial baton of industry is passed on with diminishing margins of return in tourist country.
The mighty Atlantic Ocean and the salt marsh watersheds that are influenced by her constant tidal flux define Charleston and the coastal islands of the Lowcountry. This humid, and at times, oppressively hot region is leading the way of the contemporary Southern Renaissance. Terms like: Charleston single, pluff mud, live oaks, Spanish Moss, Fort Sumter, Rainbow Row, the Battery, Lowcountry boil, south of Broad, have all made their way into our collective lexicon ultimately romanticizing the region. Natives will tell you that, although important and at times beautiful, the aforementioned terms all recede into the background for the tidal creeks and larger bodies of water that pepper the Lowcountry. This is where you will find the pulse of Charleston. The streets of Upper King may seem alive, but it pales in comparison to the tidal basin.