BIRDS-EYE VIEW OF WEST FORK VALLEY - Steep Hill Farming A Challenge


Looking north toward Arnoldsburg down the West Fork Valley

Calhoun farmers with little flat land had to make do

Rolling land, ever so steep, is good for grazing

By Bob Weaver 2008

Standing on a high hill above the West Fork River valley, you could hear the voice of the late Rev. Glendon McKee, who spoke of his Calhoun childhood, "My world was as far as the eye could see."

James McKown of Arnoldsburg (left) who once owned part of West Fork Valley land and now leases about 90 acres for cattle grazing, said "It really is a beautiful place, but it takes some nerve farming it.

Your eye could see quite a ways down the West Fork, north toward Arnoldsburg, standing in high top meadows that local residents called the James Yancey (1884-1970) and Myrtle Westfall Starcher (1882-1984) place.

It was home to the Starcher children, Faye, Mattie, Seldon and Eugene.

Mattie Starcher Carper Vineyard and Fae Starcher Cox are well-remembered Calhoun teachers.

The property is adjacent to Route 16 and the West Fork River at the mouth of Crummies (Crummis) Creek.

McKown spreads grain for his cattle

It speaks loudly to the perseverance of early farmers to make-do with little flat land, steep hillsides, a few plateaus and hilltop rolling meadows with torturous dips, all used for meadows or grazing.

Mattie's son, Tommy Carper of Munday Road, recalls cutting grass with horses and mowing machine over the steep, steep meadow when he was eleven.

"One time the cutter bar locked-up about the same time I hit a nest of yellow jackets," Carper recalls, "The horses got stung and began to drag the locked-up mower around the steep hill." Tommy, who got stung too, manged to bail off the mower.

It's a view few travelers see as they
wind their way up and down Route 16

Note: It was awe inspiring to photograph the valley with James McKown, now deceased