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American Mountain Theater in Elkins was a popular tourist destination. Billing itself as the “freshest sound in the mountains,” the theater offered shows similar to those produced in Branson, Missouri.

The theater was the dream of Elkins native Susie Heckel, who had performed at a similar theater in Arkansas. In 2004, after two years of planning and preparation, American Mountain Theater began producing shows in a former commercial building outside of Elkins with a cast made up of Heckel’s family and friends. In 2007, the group moved to a new 527-seat theater in Elkins located in the historic rail yard once occupied by the Western Maryland Railroad.

American Mountain Theater was owned by Beverly and Kenny Sexton, Heckel’s sister and brother-in-law. All three performed on stage in addition to working behind the scenes. The group staged more than 200 shows during the season, which lasted from April to December. Their shows featured a mix of country, gospel, pop, and patriotic music, as well as comedy.

More than 35,000 people visited the theater each year, with about half coming from outside the state. The theater promoted other tourist activities in Randolph County, as well, including excursions on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Starting in January 2012, the cable network RFD TV, which focuses on rural life, began airing 30-minute shows from the theater.

In 2017 the building housing American Mountain Theater was sold to Summit Church in Elkins. Under the management of a former employee, the show was moved to East Fairmont High School where it presented the AMT Gospel/Bluegrass Series.

Last Revised on February 12, 2021

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "American Mountain Theater." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 February 2021. Web. 23 September 2021.

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