In Highland County the tradition of making syrup goes back centuries. The climate in the scenic Allegheny Mountains is perfect for tapping trees and making pure, delicious maple syrup. Sugar camps are part of Highland’s heritage, and locals like Ronnie and Sandy Moyers are keeping the tradition alive. The couple runs Laurel Fork Sapsuckers, the county’s highest commercial sugar camp, set at an elevation of approximately 4,000 feet on farmland that’s been in Ronnie’s family for over 100 years. He grew up making syrup with his parents, and now, using time-honored methods, he and Sandy are sharing the practice with their daughters and extended family members.
“We operate with no electricity and use wood fired furnaces,” Ronnie says. “We want to teach people about sugar making in Highland as it was done over a century ago.”
Open Camp, Open Community
Ronnie and his family open their sugar camp to the people from around the region and beyond. During the annual Maple Festival, guests get to experience the entire process of making syrup, from watching a demonstration of sugar maple trees being tapped to seeing the sap being added to the flat pans and the evaporation taking place. Adding to the allure is the smell of fresh maple syrup in the air. “People like to see where their food comes from and here you get to see that happening,” Ronnie adds.
Opening the camp isn’t just about showcasing a big part of Highland’s cultural history. It’s also about exposing visitors to the county’s friendly, supportive community. “Highland County is a wonderful community with so many welcoming people and spectacular scenery,” he says. “There are plenty of opportunities for people in this very special place.”