The tiny and unassuming town of Capon Bridge lives larger than census numbers would indicate.
The first time I stumbled upon Capon Bridge, I drove all the way through town before stopping, turning around, and going back. This is a town you need to slow down for.
Drive too fast and you’ll miss the good stuff like The Farmer’s Daughter Market & Butcher (2908 Northwestern Turnpike, 304.856.2550, farmersdaughterwv.com). You’ve never been to a butcher like this. Not only can you purchase locally sourced meats, dairy, produce, and dry goods at this family-owned-and-operated shop, you feel smarter and healthier just hanging out there. Got the hankering for headcheese? No problem. How about scrapple? One pound or two?
Owner Pete Pacelli is a butcher by trade and comes from a long line of butchers. He and his wife Kate moved to Capon Bridge three years ago to be closer to family and help fill a need. Although the town is surrounded by farms, Capon Bridge residents didn’t have anywhere to buy fresh food other than farmers’ markets and roadside stands. “We’re kind of in a food desert,” Pacelli says.
But not anymore. The Pacellis have made their mark on the community, even drawing customers from as far as Washington, D.C. They’ve won several national culinary competitions for their hot and sweet capicola, representing West Virginia all around the country. Stop by Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and try one of their fresh sandwiches, burgers, or a daily special. On Sunday, folks line up for their delicious smoked pulled pork.
The Farmer’s Daughter has also become an important gathering spot for the community. On Friday nights during the summer, locals bring their lawn chairs and watch movies on the huge outdoor screen the Pacellis set up in the backyard of the shop. “Capon Bridge is wonderful community,” says Kate. “It is interesting how so many people have come together—transplants and locals—to live sustainably and support local farmers and businesses. We also have many young families here, which you don’t typically find in small rural communities.”
The Pacellis were drawn to Capon Bridge because of the natural beauty. “We are called the ‘Gateway to the Mountains’ for a reason,” Pete says. “We are the first town after the Virginia line. We are an hour and half from Washington, D.C., and we are an hour and a half from Thomas and Davis. It is a very convenient place to live. We have so many like-minded people here and I think that is special. We are all trying to create a great environment for those who live here and to attract new people.”
Bridge Work Ahead
As you might imagine, the bridge is an important part of Capon Bridges’s identity. The historic Parker truss structure crosses the Cacapon River and was built in 1933. When the state Division of Highways recently threatened to replace it, the town rallied to save the green-painted span. Locals lobbied for renovation in lieu of replacement and their efforts paid off. The bridge will soon undergo an extensive repair. In the meantime, supporters are working to get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Adjacent to the bridge, there’s a tiny 100-year-old house that once held coffins and was the embalming house for Griffin Funeral Home, a four-generation family business. Timothy and Beth Reese purchased the building in 2015 and, along with other community members, began renovating it into a community center called The River House (24 Rickie Davy Lane, 304.856.2440, theriverhousewv.org).
Townsfolk formed a nonprofit to further the center’s mission of providing a safe, welcoming space where art and music deepen community connections. There is also an outdoor art and park space near the riverbank. Inside, you can stop by for a fresh cup of coffee, a cafe meal, or a glass of beer or wine.
The walls of The River House are a rotating art gallery, with a different local artist featured each month. Acclaimed area artist Susan Feller recently displayed her work there. “The River House seems to be a magnet for networking because of the flexible space,” she says. “The feedback from being a featured artist has been rewarding and leads to conversations and new friendships.”
The center also hosts art classes for all ages as well as regular open mic nights, trivia nights, and concerts that almost always sell out.
Local Traffic Only
Another of my favorite Capon Bridge hangouts is The Kettle Stop (768 Northwestern Pike, 304.257.6552, @thekettlestopicecream on Facebook), located right outside town on U.S. Route 50. You can’t miss it—it’s the big red barn with picnic tables and colorful Adirondack chairs outside. This is a great place to stretch your legs. The barn is full of antiques and home goods, and don’t leave without buying a bag or two of the Stir Krazy Kettle Korn to munch on during your ride home. While you are at it, you might as well order a Cacapon Mud Milkshake, too. Locals say it is the best ice cream in the county.
If you’re hungry for more than popcorn and ice cream, check out El Puente Mexican Family Restaurant (2787 Northwestern Pike, 304.856.1171, @elpuentewva on Facebook). Yes, the name translates to “the Bridge” in Spanish. Looking for home-style cooking? Visit Greg’s Restaurant (975 Northwestern Turnpike, 304.856.2445, “Greg’s Restaurant”on Facebook). Located in an old McDonald’s building, Greg’s Restaurant serves breakfast all day and sells homebrewed iced tea by the gallon. Locals also love Anthony’s Jr.! (608 North Main Street, Moorefield, 304.530.0011) for pizza, subs and wings—and, of course, there’s the aforementioned Farmer’s Daughter and The River House for sandwiches, pastries, soups, and salads.
There are other hidden treasures in this diminutive community. The popular Liberty View Quilt Shop (2886 Northwestern Pike, 304.856.2234, libertyviewquiltshop.com) draws quilters from near and far. A recent art exhibit at The River House showcased needlework from the shop.
If you are in the market for log furniture, visit Bent River Woodworks (3464 Northwestern Turnpike, 304.856.1200, bentriverwoodworks.com). The owner has been a cabinetmaker for more than three decades. In 1995, he started making custom log furniture, interior woodwork, and cabinetry for log and rustic homes.
And every weekend, hundreds of folks come to town for auctions at the Sherrard Auction Company (2886 Northwestern Turnpike, 540.550.0102, sherrardauctionco.com), where you can find everything from housewares and antiques to used cars and tools.
So, if you haven’t visited Capon Bridge yet, it is past time for a road trip. Just watch your speed—or you might miss something cool. visitcaponbridge.com
There are plenty of lodging options in Hampshire and nearby Hardy counties to rest your head and use as a base for your adventures.
Buffalo Gap Retreat
Open from April 20 to November 1, Buffalo Gap Retreat has six cabins that sleep up to 12 each. There are also camping options, a communal kitchen, a lake, a beach, a lakefront wood-fired sauna, and hiking trails. 229 Cool Creek Road, Capon Bridge, 202.422.7430, buffalogapretreat.com
Capon Springs Resort and Spa
Capon Springs and Farms is an all-inclusive family resort in Hampshire County that has been run by the same family since 1932. Staying here is like booking a room in the resort from Dirty Dancing or a seaside retreat from a Victorian novel where ladies and gentlemen take to curative waters. With a spa, golf course, pool, and other amenities, you won’t want to leave. 3818 Capon Springs Road, Capon Springs, 304.874.3695, caponsprings.net
The Koolwink Motel
This family-owned motel has been greeting travelers since 1936. This 1950s-style spot is a destination unto itself, with pristine rooms decorated in vintage decor, flat screen TVs, wireless internet, spacious porches, and a real dose of hometown hospitality. 24350 Northwestern Pike, Romney, 304.822.3595, koolwink.com
This darling contemporary four-room motel in Wardensville is located in the heart of the beautiful Potomac Highlands and within walking distance of shops and restaurants in charming Wardensville. There’s no lengthy check-in process. When you reserve your room online, you are sent a 4-digit access code that serves as your room key. 30 West Main Street, Wardensville, 304.874.3666, fireflyinnwv.com
South Branch Inn
With locations in both Moorefield and Romney, The South Branch Inn offers free internet, HBO, and a continental breakfast at The South Branch Inn in Romney. Choose from a standard, queen, or king room, or book a suite with a Jacuzzi. 64 Heritage Circle, Romney; 1500 U.S. Highway 220 North, Moorefield; 800.856.9167, wvafun.com/southbranchinn
written by NIKKI BOWMAN