Germany Valley in West Virginia

Germany Valley, West Virginia, located in Pendleton County, was first colonized by German (including Pennsylvania Dutch) farmers in the mid-18th Century. Photo by John Clise

By John Clise

Germany Valley offers wonderful views of the vastness of the Allegheny Mountains from the West Virginia perspective. Its expansive views are mazing, and seemingly go on forever.

It’s not just the great views people will find in the area. Other activities include rock climbing, caving, hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, sightseeing, nature study, star gazing, photography, and bird watching among others. 

Tourists will be memorized by the views. Visitors can also find many accommodations when staying in the area, including Germany Valley Overlook Cabins.

According to their website, the secluded log cabins in the mountains of West Virginia with panoramic views of Spruce Knob, Dolly Sods, eastern slopes of the Allegheny mountains and an inside view of Germany Valley and the North Fork Mountain Range. They are a vacation destination cabins with each cabin being unique and set in its own secluded location far away from the highway. Each cabin offers awesome views from inside the cabin and from the deck. Surrounded by 170 acres of prime pasture land with cattle grazing near the cabins. These self catering log cabins are ideal for relaxing family vacations, weekend getaways, sportsman retreat or a secluded honeymoon.

Beautiful views from Germany Valley. Photo by Rebecca Clise

The details on Germany Valley note the area is a scenic upland valley high in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia originally settled by German (including Pennsylvania Dutch) farmers in the mid-18th Century. It is today a part of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area of the Monongahela National Forest, although much ownership of the Valley remains in private hands.

The Valley is noted for its extensive karst and cave development, with dozens of caves and cave systems having been formally documented and mapped. The area was made a National Natural Landmark, the Germany Valley Karst Area, in 1973 by the National Park Service. The NPS cited it as “one of the largest cove or intermountain karst areas in the country, unique because all the ground water recharge and solution activities are linked with precipitation within the cove.”

According to the history of the area, Germany Valley is named for the German families that were its earliest colonizers. The first to arrive was the Hinkle (originally Henckel) family, which migrated from North Carolina in 1761. John Justus Hinkle, Sr (1705/6 – 1778) and his wife Maria Magdelena Eschman (1710–1798), with their twelve children and their own families, came for the inexpensive farm land and relative freedom from Indian attacks. They were also attracted by the fertile limestone soils and gently rolling bottomland. They were soon joined by the Teters and by Pennsylvania Dutch families, some having migrated southwest following the ridges and through the “Valley of Virginia” from Pennsylvania’s Lebanon and Lancaster counties. A few German families also moved west from Spotsylvania County, Virginia. These settlers brought the familiar custom of placing hex signs on their barns (perhaps the only section of West Virginia where these signs were once found.)

Photo by Rebecca Clise

During the time of the American Civil War, the communities of the upper North Fork, including Germany Valley, and Franklin, were strongly Confederate in their sympathies, although nearby Seneca Rocks and the lower South Branch Valley were generally northern in persuasion. Pendleton County was a border area like many unprotected by either Federal troops or the Confederates. Such divided counties, then the rule in central West Virginia, were torn by internal strife and uncertainty and border county “wars” among various partisan groups were continuous. County governments often ceased to operate altogether.

Further, according the history records, many of the Valley’s men joined local partisan units such as the Pendleton Scouts, Pendleton Rifles, and Dixie Boys and fought for the Confederacy. In northern Pendleton County, the Swamp Dragons, or “Swamps”, were equally strong defenders of the Union. Clashes between these units were frequent and bitter, with members of the same families often contending against one another. Raids by Union army units and Union partisans such as the Swamps occurred several times in the Valley during the war years.

Photo by Rebecca Clise
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