Moving to Rural Southern Alleghenies

Homesteaders share their experience on moving to rural southern Alleghenies looking for privacy, affordable land and a slower pace of life.

| May/June 1988

Reports back from some new American pioneers who made the move to rural southern Alleghenies. 

Moving to Rural Southern Alleghenies

Most of the people who've been part of the recent immigration to the southern Allegheny region came looking for privacy, affordable land and a slower pace of life. Bob Lee, a civil engineer working in Lima, Peru, gazed down the corporate road of the international tire company employing him and decided he didn't want to spend the next 35 years moving around the world. In 1969, he requested a transfer back to the U.S. and was sent to Cumberland, where the small-town atmosphere reminded him of growing up in upstate New York—except the climate was warmer and the terrain gentler. Luck as well as intent had put him in a place where he and his family decided to put down roots.

Bill Hierstetter lived his first 30-some years in Baltimore, yet always knew he would rather be in the country. In 1981, his firm offered Bill a transfer to western Maryland. He jumped at the chance, and he and his wife, Janet, moved to a place so isolated that a car bumping along the dirt road to their home was an event.

Like Bill, John Wozney, though living in Springfield, Virginia, had always wanted a "hunk of ground." In 1974 he found eight acres and a house outside the tiny town of Hyndman, Pennsylvania. It was, by far, the best land value he'd seen, so he and his wife, Sandy, put together a down payment and moved. They were young, in love, and unconcerned about the fact that John didn't have a job.

In 1977, Ron Christensen, an artist in New York City, knew it was time to look for someplace else to live. He wanted a quiet place where he could retreat to paint. Then a friend showed him and his wife, Gale, an old hunting lodge in Bean's Cove, Pennsylvania. The building was in terrible shape, but the view looking up into the mountains was unbeatable, and the price was $10,000. They bought it that same day.

What They Found  

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