NICHOLAS COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA
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.