Photo by Jim Fisher
The most iconic symbol of the Amish has to be the buggy. From the gray-topped Lancaster to black-top Kentucky and yellow-topped Northwestern Pennsylvania buggies they certainly are buggies of many colors. As you may already know, buggy shapes, colors and styles can vary across the hundreds of Amish settlements in the United States and Canada. All I know is when I see one my heart does a little jump, and my mind starts racing with all the storylines dancing around in my head.
So why a buggy and not an automobile?
My Amish friend explained to me once that they are not totally against the automobile; they often rely on it as a means of transportation, and they are not put off by us using them. What they do have trouble with is the fast-paced lifestyle that comes along with owning a one.
She told me that by using a buggy, it helps keep her family close to home and in the community where their friends and family live. By not having the means to travel too far away it helps them shop locally with one another and rely on each other if they have a need. She also explained how they put a lot of emphasis on God and family, and believe you can’t get that if you don’t spend time close to home.
Her family takes pride in their buggy, and she told me it could often last a lifetime if taken care of properly. I would guess it is the same way we take care of our vehicles.
If you ride through Amish country on a Saturday, you will most likely see them all lined waiting to be washed in preparation for Sunday church. Did you ever wonder how they tell them apart when they all parked together? It’s easy. Each family has a unique mark on their buggy that helps them identify which one is theirs.
Can you imagine riding in one in the bitter cold of winter? Believe it or not, the small confined space stays toasty warm with little propane heaters or warmed up bricks wrapped in towels.
I’d say young boys who at sixteen will use their courting buggies to escort their dates home from a Sunday night singeon would enjoy the tight spaces so they can sit close to a young lady.
Even the slow-paced horse who only travels five to eight miles an hour would give them ample time to get to know each other. Most of the horses used for buggies are standardbred horses. They are either not fast enough for the racetrack or are retired from the track. Horses will live 18 to 20 years and become a valued part of an Amish families possessions.
So there you have it …all the fun facts I’ve learned from my Amish friends about buggies.
In my new book “Secrets of Willow Springs” Daniel Miller and Matthew Byler take a trip to Sugarcreek where they stay with Nathan Bouteright, an Amish horse trainer. Be sure to read why the secret Jacob Byler had kept from his daughter is found in Sugarcreek and not in Willow Springs.
Tracy Fredrychowski is a country girl, author, homesteader and everything simple living. She has a passion for writing about the simpler side of life, much like the life she lived growing up in rural Pennsylvania.
Her life has always been intertwined with the Amish, and it’s only fitting that she has a genuine passion for their simplicity, sense of community and God-centered lives.
Growing up in Northwest Pennsylvania she spent her childhood immersed deep in Amish Country. The clip-clop of horse and buggy woke her each morning as Amish men drove past her childhood home on their way to work. As a young woman, she was traumatized by an Amish murder that involved a family member and changed her life forever.
Even though she currently lives in South Carolina her travels take her through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin’s Amish Country every year. During those stops, she researches the communities she visits and prides herself on writing Amish fiction that truly represents the Amish culture. She considers herself very fortunate to have made friends in those communities and values the information they share and wants nothing more than to represent their lifestyle as accurately as possible.