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Amish Communities in Western Pennsylvania

Claudia enjoys traveling and sharing her travel tips with readers.

Amish Barn and Buggy

Amish Barn and Buggy

There are quite a few Amish communities throughout Pennsylvania. The most well known one is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster is in the eastern part of the state and draws huge crowds of visitors throughout the year. While beautiful and interesting, it is overrun with commercialism and tourists.

For a more realistic and low-key glimpse at the Amish way of life, visit Western Pennsylvania. There are four large communities that offer the visitor a taste of the Amish life and have a large Amish presence.

  • Dayton, Pennsylvania
  • Smicksburg, Pennsylvania
  • New Wilmington, Pennsylvania
  • Volant, Pennsylvania

The Amish in these areas are considered Old Order Amish and live within smaller communities surrounding the towns. Around New Wilmington and Volant, the Amish settled in the 1840s, while the community near the Dayton and Smicksburg area settled in the 1960s. Today the Amish are an integral part of their communities, working closely with non-Amish in all sorts of jobs, and shopping at local area stores. The area Walmart even has designated buggy parking.

If you come for a visit watch out for the buggies on the road. Also, note that none of the photos in this article are of people, only of places and things. This is to respect the dignity and privacy of the Amish who generally do not care to have their photos taken.

While you are visiting, don't forget to drive the back roads around the towns. This is where you'll see the quiet beauty of the everyday life of the Amish.

Take a trip back in time and visit Western Pennsylvania's Amish Communities.

Amish Buggy

Amish Buggy

Dayton, Pennsylvania

Dayton, Pennsylvania is a small town located just over an hour northeast of Pittsburgh, PA, making it a perfect day trip from the city. Like nearby Smicksburg, this area was settled in the 1960s. You can get a taste of Amish food at the local restaurants and you can admire fine hand-made furniture at the shops. Quilters will have a fun time visiting the local quilt shops and examining the beautiful work of the Amish quilters.

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Amish Corn Crop

Amish Corn Crop

Smicksburg, Pennsylvania

Home to over 800 community members, the Amish settled in Smicksburg in 1961. You'll find many specialty shops in the town and the countryside is beautiful. When driving through the area, be mindful of buggies while stopping by all of the shops run by the Amish. You'll find specialty foods and crafts along your way. If you are lucky you'll see farmers using horse drawn plows to work their fields or community members having a barn raising.

New Wilmington, PA.  Note the wheel tracks from buggies on the roadside.

New Wilmington, PA. Note the wheel tracks from buggies on the roadside.

New Wilmington, Pennsylvania

Near the Ohio border, New Wilmington, PA is a charming town nestled in the heart of a large Amish community. It is about 1 hour north of Pittsburgh, PA. Within the area of New Wilmington and nearby Volant there are approximately 2,000 Old Order Amish community members. The community is divided into church districts comprised of approximately 75 members in each one.

Drive through town and you'll see buggies parked in bank parking lots while owners do their daily shopping. Drive a mile out of town in any direction and you'll see Amish farms and school houses with people going about their everyday lives. Throughout the countryside take a look at the signs at the end of farm lanes and you'll see things like "Harness Repair Shop", "Buggy Repair Shop", "Eggs for Sale" and "Quilt Shop".

Of other interest in New Wilmington is Westminster College and the local tavern in town that was part of the Underground Railroad.

Volant, PA

Volant, PA

Volant, Pennsylvania

Only 4 miles from New Wilmington, Volant is a town that caters more to visitors. Quaint specialty shops line the town's main street and on any given Saturday you'll find Amish families selling baked good and produce in the town park. Don't forget to visit the renovated grist mill which sells collectibles and home décor items. Drive towards New Wilmington and there will be farms selling produce, quilts and other items. For locals, this area is the perfect spot to find craftsmen who specialize in remodeling kitchens and making beautiful wooden furniture.

Amish Communities in Western Pennsylvania

Did you know?

  • The Amish first came to America in the early 1700s to flee religious persecution in Europe.
  • There are no longer Amish settlements in Europe.
  • Amish currently live in Canada and 28 states.
  • Old Order Amish are members of the Amish society who chose a more conservative path.
  • Old Order Amish women do not wear buttons on their clothing.

Come for a visit

If you are just passing through for a day, or planning a longer visit to Western Pennsylvania, make time to visit the Amish communities in the area. You are sure to get a glimpse of the real Amish way of life.

© 2012 Claudia Porter

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