SUTTON, W.Va.—One night in 1984, the Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer
had an epiphany. God called him, he explained afterward, to erect sets of three crosses across the land to recall Christ's crucifixion at Calvary
. He would raise them wherever he could and start nearby—in the foothills west of the Allegheny Mountains in central West Virginia
In less than a decade, thousands of such crosses had sprung up across the eastern U.S., capping knolls and other landmarks along highways from Florida and Texas north into Pennsylvania and beyond.