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Living History

June 7, 2012

Have you ever gone to one of those fantastic places, like Plimouth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg where the docents dress historically and show the visitors what life was like way back when? They are a wonderful way to easily envision the way people lived and worked when technology was so very different, a super place to take school kids to give them a visual and experiential way to learn history.

Meanwhile, real life places exist where families continue living and working where for generations.  When you drive in to Back Creek Bend Farm in Hedgesville, West Virginia the past is apparent.  Perhaps one of West Virginia’s oldest structures, a portion of the house dates back to 1742 when the Snodgrass Tavern was built as a stage stop where the highway between Alexandria and Bath ( now more commonly called Berkeley Springs) crossed Back Creek, a tributary to the Potomac. It was the main road leading to the town of Bath and famous visitors included George Washington, Henry Clay and Edgar Allen Poe. The house operated as a tavern until 1847 with slave quarters, slave cemetery,  a store and other outbuildings also on the property.  Being the main highway in the region, the area was part of the turmoil of the Civil War and the family went through some financial hardship. The 350-acre property became available and was purchased by John Gonano’s ancestor in 1868. 

The family raises grass-fed beef, offering some veal, and pastured chicken. They also offer local pork for sale as well as providing a pick-up for a local vegetable and flower CSA.  Their products are served at Dish Restaurant in Charles Town,  the Devonshire in Shepherdstown, The Country Inn at Berkeley Springs, and River and Trail Outfitters in Knoxville, Virginia (where John works in addition to the farm).

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