Cluster of crosses near Killian Exit on I-77 were recently refurbished, thanks to donations from several Fairfield County individuals and organizations.

 

From the Hearald Indepentent in Winnsbor, South Carolina

Crosses along I-77, across U.S. result of one man’s vision

By Grace Tarrant

Correspondent

 

  Along I-77 – While driving to Columbia one day last August, I noticed the rundown condition of the crosses along the side of the road, on I-77.

   I’m sure you have all seen the ones to which I refer, between Killian Road and US 21.  The center cross, 25 feet tall, is painted gold, and the two 20-foot crosses flanking it, are pale blue.

   The builder of the crosses, Bernard Coffindaffer, a child of West German ancestry, lost both his parents at age 10.  He graduated from high school at age 14 and entered the Marine Corps at 15.

   Coffindaffer graduated from the University of Charleston, (West Virginia) with a degree in business.

   After World War II, he operated a coal washing business in the West Virginia mountains.  When he developed health problems resulting in open-heart surgery twice, he sold his lucrative business in 1982.  He became a self-proclaimed minister and was distinguished with an honorary doctorate degree.

 

 

   Coffindaffer erected the first of these crosses in 1984 after a beautiful vision gave him the idea.

    “The vision instructed, blessed and told me how to go about installing the crosses,” Coffindaffer said.

   At a cost of $3 million dollars of his own money, he has been responsible for erecting 1,864 clusters of these crosses in 27 states, District of Columbia, Zambia and The Philippines.

   “They were erected for one reason only,” he said, “To remind people that Jesus was crucified on a cross at Calvary for our sins.”

   Thus, the three crosses - the one which Jesus died on and the two on which the two who were crucified with him.  Unable to be seen from the interstate are three nails in each cross.  One at each of the cross arms, and one halfway down the cross represent where the hands and feet were nailed.

   Each cross, built from California Douglas Fir, weighs 400 pounds.

   There are 40 such clusters in South Carolina, including one at Exit #83 near Charlotte, and another which I have seen just last month, in Ocala, Fla.  Family and friends have reported seeing several of these crosses in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

 

   Coffindaffer has a set on his own property in Craigsville, West Virginia, and had hoped eventually to erect crosses in all 50 states located every 50 miles alone the 45,000 miles of interstate and major thoroughfares in the United States. Unfortunately, at age 68, the West Virginia gentleman passed away in 1993, penniless.  There would be no more crosses.

   It was upsetting to me that Mr. Coffindaffer’s dream should have ended, but even more disturbing to see the condition of the Blythewood crosses.

   I learned that when property owners were asked for permission to erect the crosses on their property, a responsibility came with it.  They were asked to straighten the crosses should they need it, trim foliage, and paint when needed.

   Over the years, property has changed hands and not all the new owners are able to continue with the upkeep, as is the case with the cluster near Blythewood.

 

 

 

   A search through maps resulted in my finding the property owner.  I have since met with Raymond Wages and received written permission to access his property.

   A commercial painter, Robert Brewer of Bass Road in Blythewood, offered to scrape, sand, prime and paint the crosses for a minimum cost of $470, including the paint.  Bushes and tree limbs obscuring the crosses, were recently trimmed away by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

   Brewer finished painting the crosses (referred to as cluster #663) on June 4.  The painting was made possible by donations from the “Happy Hearts” club from Lake Wateree Baptist Church, the congregation of the Chapel at Lake Wateree Presbyterian Church, the Ladies of the Chapel Group and several individuals who made private donations.

   Thank you for the generosity of those who participated in this “Cast Thy Bread” ministry.

   I’m sure Mr. Coffindaffer would be pleased to know his crosses have been cared for.

 

Home / Please Read This / Prayers / Gallery / History / Articles / Maintenance Tips / Crosses-per-State / Fax-Sheet