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Yokum’s Vacationland

Carving Out a Big Life at Seneca Rocks

Text and photographs by Carl E. Feather

Carl and Shirley Yokum, owners of Yokum’s Vacationland at Seneca Rocks.
Carl and Shirley Yokum, owners of Yokum’s Vacationland at Seneca Rocks. Photograph by Carl E. Feather.



Carl and Shirley Yokum of Seneca Rocks don’t have a dramatic love story like that associated with the Native American lore of West Virginia’s most famous rock formation. Nevertheless, their 70 years of marriage and incessant labor in the shadow of these magnificent rocks make for a contemporary hospitality legend.

Yokum’s Vacationland, including their store and motel, is at the busy intersection of State Route 55 and U.S. Route 33 in Pendleton County. Just across Seneca Creek is their Princess Snowbird’s Indian Village, which offers primitive camping, honeymoon cabins, and teepees for rent. Northeast, toward Petersburg on Route 33, lie the rest of this hospitality empire: a restaurant, a second motel, five modern log cabins, and a second campground. Carl and Shirley also own the old schoolhouse where they studied as youngsters, the modern Seneca Rocks Elementary building that they purchased a few years ago, their home, several other houses, and a family cemetery.

There is more. Across the private bridge that spans the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River is the Yokum cattle farm, original homestead, and the homes of Yokum grandchildren. The Yokum riding stables offer horseback rides to the top of the rocks. Carl also owns pasture lands elsewhere in the region. With the exception of the stables, all of these properties, covering about 1,000 acres of land, are operated by Carl, who is in his early 90's, and Shirley, in her late 80's.

Both Shirley’s and Carl’s families go back several generations in their connections to this land.


You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.