common / Crossroads Weekend

A road trip through Southern Fulton, Pa.

Kate Shunney

A recent road trip with Beth Rowland up U.S. 522 into Fulton County, Pa. was just an excuse to get out of the office. There’s no sense claiming otherwise. The fact that we actually did some newspaper business along the way was purely accidental.

Fulton County views.Fulton County views.

Fulton County is just right up the road from here. About two stones’ throws from the West Virginia shore of the Potomac River. For those interested in actual mileage, that’s 10 miles from Berkeley Springs to the Pennsylvania line.

Being able to drive in and out of three states within a quarter of an hour might seem weird to most people, but it doesn’t phase us locally. Funny thing is, the towns between here and there are just different enough to warrant the drive. That’s why a road trip through Southern Fulton is fun. It’s far enough away for you to feel like you went somewhere, but not so far that you feel out of sorts.

Warfordsburg

Warfordsburg is the first town you’ll hit inside Fulton County. It’s due north of Hancock, reached either by I-70 or the snakey way in Hancock – up Pennsylvania Avenue and left on Resley Street, which turns into Warfordsburg Road. Right through the middle of Warfordsburg, you pass Southern Fulton High School, the post office, the old general store and the fading former elementary school, which occupies the corner before we turn right on Great Cove Road.

(By the way, if you keep going straight on Buck Valley Road, you’re headed for one of the most scenic parts of southern Pennsylvania – but that’s a whole other roadtrip.)

Sadly, I-70 cut Warfordsburg into sections when it was built decades ago. After you pass over the highway and head north, there’s a little more to Warfordsburg. Up ahead on the left is the Warfordsburg Senior Center (and adjacent small public park with a walking path). Further along, Southern Fulton Elementary stands on the right.

Dott

Dott Country Store.Dott Country Store.

If you’re thirsty or feeling peckish by now, you’ll want to keep rolling until you hit the Village of Dott, which might go unnoticed, except for the landmark of the Dott Country Store.  A stark white, clapboard general store with gas pumps out front, the Dott Store upholds the long tradition of a country mercantile.

Inside, the worn wooden floors are soft to the shoe. A bright, clean lunch counter to the left offers some surprising options. Who would expect to find a muffaletta – the classic spicy New Orleans sandwich – in such a setting? Less adventurous diners will be just as impressed with the store’s giant cheeseburgers, or a traditional sub.  They can all be eaten in a well-lit and cheerful dining area to the right.

Visitors who sit down to eat can’t help but notice the store has its own lending library, and even a community computer station, supplied by the Fulton County Library. An ample bookshelf, taller than most customers, is stuffed with books of all sorts. The idea to collect and distribute books came from one of the store’s customers, and the book swap gets a lot of traffic, since it saves readers a 30-minute trip to the nearest library.

In line with tradition, the store also carries basic foodstuffs, household cleaning items, plus an array of hardware, farm and automotive supplies. It’s tempting to pick up a pack of clothespins there, just because you can.

Needmore

Downtown Needmore.Downtown Needmore.

Needmore is up ahead. 

You might want to save room for a frozen treat at Gordon’s, which has a cool collection of local memorabilia on their walls and an inviting patio for slurping down a milkshake. Over the hill is a grassy area that’s perfect for a stroll if your road trip companions are small kids who need to work off some of their ice cream energy.  Inside, there are also used appliances for sale, in case you’re in the market.

Ice cream at Gordons.Ice cream at Gordons.Needmore boasts a post office, several churches, the Fulton County CommunityChristian School (in the old schoolhouse) and an impressive volunteer fire company. If you’re lucky, you’ll cruise past on a nice day when all of the company’s engines and their enormous ladder truck are pulled out of the bays and parked in a shiny row.


Big Cove Tannery

Up for more driving? The winding, tree-shaded road ahead is perfect for an unhurried dawdle. You’ll climb up a bit, take a particularly hairpin-ish turn around a very red barn, and wind up heading downhill toward another pocket of discovery – the Big Cove Tannery area. When you’re in search of some real backroads exploration, take the right toward Big Cove Tannery, which once sported – yes, you guessed it – a tannery operation.

Now that’s defunct, but the little road does lead back to part of the Buchanan National Forest, and a sweet brook-side walking path that’s easy and full of unexpected treats. (The day we went, the park sported ripe and heavy raspberries hanging just an arm’s length from the path.)

Outside at Harr's.Outside at Harr's.

But if you opt to stay straight on Big Cove Road, you’ll find Harr’s Grocery & Flea Market – another country store full of food staples, chips and ice cream, nuts and bolts, and a manageably-sized flea market. The market has ample used furniture, garden tools, outdoor this-and-that, glassware, kitchen stuff and a ton of coffee mugs, among other things. Harr’s is frequented by lots of bargain hunters, since they have a constantly-rotating stock of items. They’ve been in business for over 30 years.

Goods at Harr's.Goods at Harr's.

At this point, you’re very close to reaching the county seat of McConnellsburg, which has its own charms.



Yankee Mercantile.Yankee Mercantile.

But our road trip hit its terminus just shy of town at The Yankee Mercantile – an 1820’s Civil War general store turned gift shop. Owner Becky Brackbill is well-versed in the building’s interesting history, and has collected an attractive array of new and antique items to offer shoppers.

Morton's Feed Mill.Morton's Feed Mill.

Across the road, Morton’s Feed is an operational feed and agricultural enterprise that serves the large farming community in Fulton County and farmers in the surrounding area. The two business face each other across Great Cove Road, looking very much like the historical center of commerce for this part of the county. A nearby dairy farm drives home that feel of being in another time, though Fulton County is very much a present-day destination.

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