While driving through Pennsylvania, we couldn't leave without inquiring into the life of the elusive Amish that live in and around Lancaster country. The name Amish is as much a household name as apple pie and Chevrolet but few seem to know much about them, other than they own and operate the big beautiful farms in southeastern Pennsylvania. As we drove toward Lancaster, the farms were obvious with their windmills and horses. Time and again we slowed to pass the now familiar small, high sided, carriage being pulled by a beautiful Morgan horse. In Lancaster, we stopped at the information center. We didn't find what we were looking for. Several tours were being offered but we had learned that Amish do not appreciate their pictures being taken and there was no point where we would be let off to walk around and ask questions. We pulled out and headed toward the town of Intercourse. Along the way we found a Mennonite information center. Here we learned some of the history of both the Mennonite and Amish orders. The people were very helpful but we still hadn't found the inner thinking of these highly successful people. By chance we were driving down Rt. 30, more or less heading for home when we passed the Amish Farm and House. 2395 Route 30 East. Lancaster, PA 17602. Laura asked if we should stop. I hemmed and hawed and then after several miles decided that we should go back and see what was there. After the necessary introductions we met Mark Andrews, the property manager. We learned that the Amish are very private, and that's why it is left to the non-Amish to tell their story. We walked from his office out into the yard where he gestured over the extensive buildings that lay before us. He indicated that all this evolved out of a need to satisfy the public that flock to Lancaster County seeking the same things that brought us here. The Amish have over 20 different districts in this area. The House and Farm reflect the Old Order Amish, which is the strictest order. There are no hard fast rules with the Amish. Each group develops its own rules of conduct. Some rules are pretty uniform throughout the districts, such as the rejection of motor vehicles and electricity in the home. Other rules can be considerably varied. Mark left us to wander the farm waiting for the next house tour. The farm was deeded in 1716 and was home to an Amish family as well as Mennonites and Quakers before them. In 1957 the Amish who had been living in the house moved away. The public demand for information led to the entire house being used for lectures. Bus groups of people became a standard fare. Cookies, pies and other baked goods are a steady attraction to those who stop by. The staff grew with the addition of new attractions in the farm yard, finally reaching 30 people. Today it is a sprawling complex with a wide assortment of interests suitable for every age.
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