Happy New Year everyone!
I’ve grown up in Western Pennsylvania my entire life. I’ve had the chance to look at the Laurel Highlands practically every day. I’ve watched the sunrise and sunset over the hills for the past 21 years. I’ve lived a pretty blessed life, to say the least.
My grandparents retired in a very small town of Kingwood, West Virginia. My grandfather, or as we would call him Pop, had a passion for golf and would golf any chance he could get. Golf is what led them to Kingwood from Fairmont, WV. Kingwood has been their home for over 30 years. Some of my greatest memories with my grandparents were the trips my family would make down to West Virginia to see them for the day. Before Route 43 fully opened, we would have to take a different and extended way around to Cheat Lake to hop on Interstate 68 to head towards Kingwood. As we went further down the highway, fewer cars would be around us simply because we were getting off at the last exit. The rest of Rt 43 had been closed since my mom was in college and that had been over 20 years at the time.
My sister and I would always get a thrill out of the bump in the road that divided Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I don’t know if you would call it irony but the bump was right at the “Welcome to West Virginia” sign. The ongoing joke was that the road workers in PA had a rivalry with the WV road workers so they made the bump in the road to make sure their land was divided from one another. In 2012, Phase 2 of the Mon-Fayette Expressway (Rt. 43) opened up and the bump in the road was just a memory to sit in my head until later thought about.
I learned to drive on the curvy roads of West Virginia and those are some of the best memories with my dad. We would have highway jam out sessions singing music from his college years on the radio. Until I started driving those roads I never noticed the three crosses that sit on the hillside along Rt. 26.
A man, by the name of Bernard Coffindaffer, started this incredible journey of placing crosses all across America in 1984. He was a self-proclaimed Methodist minister to seven Methodist churches in Pocahontas County, West Virginia who also owned a coal-washing business.
After having two by-pass heart surgeries he closed down his business and had an idea. He spent roughly three million dollars installing nearly 2,000 clusters of crosses in 29 states also including District of Columbia, Philippines, and Zambia. The landowners donated the land and Coffindaffer covered the costs of the bills for the crosses.
The center cross was painted gold and the two crosses beside were painted a pale blue. The gold paint on the center Cross represented royalty while the two pale blue crosses signified the earth.
“At the erection of each cluster of Crosses, a solemn Consecration Service was held. Scriptures such as Mark 8:34, ‘if any man will follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ were read. Prayers for repentance and forgiveness of sins were offered. At each site, the same identical service was held. Coffindaffer once said, ‘The Crosses speak peace within as we struggle without.'” – (Crosses Across America, Inc.)
The three Crosses symbolize Christ on the Cross flanked by the two thieves that were crucified with Him.
Whether you believe in this kind of religion or not, this is a part of history. One man, with one dream, made a huge project happen. I don’t know about you, but I sure want a piece of history on my property!