In 1869, Swiss and German immigrants settled in the mountains of West Virginia. They brought their traditions with them and have kept them alive throughout the years. Every year they host Fasnacht, the Helvetia Fair, and a Ramp Supper. Fasnacht is a German tradition that started as a celebration of the end of the Catholic Lent. It has taken on its own Appalachian flair and now the town uses it as a way to celebrate the end of a harsh winter.
One place that is a must-visit is the Hütte Restaurant. It is a place where you can get traditional Swiss food. The special food of the area is a locally produced cheese called the Appalachian Alpine Cheese or Helvetia Swiss Cheese. You can get it prepared in a variety of ways at the Hütte Restaurant or pick it up from the general store just a few steps down the road.
A draw of the area is its Swiss charm. The buildings are all beautifully hand-crafted wooden homes with great attention paid to detail. There is a path by the Hütte Restaurant that leads you past more of the beautiful homes and places to stay. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the area’s beauty and all the wonderful nature surrounding it.
Know Before You Go
Most cell phones do not receive service in Helvetia, and GPS is not reliable. We suggest you download maps to your mobile or follow the directions below. Given the rural nature of the village, there are no ATMs and the nearest gas station is in Pickens, West Virginia, five miles south of Helvetia. There is a pay phone near the Helvetia Star Band Hall.
From Morgantown & North: I-79 to Weston (Exit 99) and take Rt 33 East to Buckhannon. Take Rt. 20 South 12 miles to WV Wildlife Center, turn left onto Alexander/Helvetia Road. Follow signs 20 miles to Helvetia.
From Elkins: Rt. 219 South 16 miles to Mill Creek, turn right onto Mill Street. Follow signs 20 miles to Helvetia.
From Charleston & South: I-79N to Flatwoods (Exit 67). Take Rt. 19 North 20 miles to Ireland then Rt. 4 East (toward Rock Cave). Go 6 miles through Rock Cave to the WV Wildlife Center, turn right on the Alexander/Helvetia Road. Follow signs 20 miles to Helvetia.