While the women from Wedgewood were here visiting, Kaylan – the youngest member of the group – wanted to go to four states in one day. Because Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland are so close, it was easy to oblige her. But, of course, we wanted to see something in each state to make it more interesting. We headed south to Friendship Hill National Historic Site in Pennsylvania. Then we drove further south to West Virginia and was the Monogahela River. Then we headed east into Maryland and stopped at Spruce Forest Artisan Village. Finally we headed back to Ohiopyle and then the ladies went on home to Ohio. Four states in one day, just like Kaylan requested.
Spruce Forest Artisan Village was a new place for me. Ranger Mike is always talking about the great food at Penn Alps restaurant in Grantsville and I will report on that tomorrow. But I had never heard of Spruce Forest and it was a wonderful, delightful surprise.
Spruce Forest Artisan Village was founded by Alta Schrock in 1957 as a way to highlight the traditional crafts of the people in the Allegheny mountains. The Village is composed of 12 log cabins, some of them dating from the Revolutionary War. Each one has a name and provides studio space for artisans. As you walk into the Village, there is a covered arch with the tiles of the artisans who are present on that particular day. As soon as I saw that there was a weaver, I made a beeline for that cabin.
Ann Jones started working as a weaver at Spruce Forest in 1975 and has been weaving there ever since. Her cabin is an enticing jumble of looms, yarns, and finished goods for sale. The first day we visited, she was working on correcting a warping problem and we started talking. An hour later, I was still talking to Ann even though everyone else was ready to leave. She was showing us different looms she has in her cabin and talking about weaving techniques. I loved talking to her and could have stayed there all day.
The rest of the Wedgewood women were ready to go, so I reluctantly said goodbye. Then I realized there were lots of other things to see at Spruce Village and I hadn’t seen any of them. So, Tom and I went back a week later to see the rest of the village.
Spruce Forest Artisan Village has a 1797 gristmill that still works. The day Tom and I returned, he was making buckwheat. Although I have heard of buckwheat pancakes, I don’t know that I have ever had any, so I had to explore the subject a bit. Buckwheat is related to the rhubarb family and is a pseudocereal. It was a common crop in the United States through the 1930’s and then gave way to corn and wheat.
Tom and I checked out the General Store and the church. The village was once the town of Little Crossings, so some of the building are left over from that time. Then we explored the rest of the artisan cabins. We talked for a while to Gary Yoder, a master bird sculptor. Gary makes wood feathers so realistic, the bird would probably be fooled. We watched Gene Gillespie turning wood and admired his beautiful bowls and vases. Lynn Lais was busy in his cabin full of gorgeous pottery.
We finished off our visit by touring the Yoder House. This is a new house built in a traditional style as they would have built in the 18th century. It also contains a lot of genealogy information from the Yoder family, a big name in western Pennsylvania and in Ohio.
I enjoyed both of our visits to Spruce Forest Artisan Village very much. When my parents come next week, we might return.