In Ohio Amish County

One of the things I enjoy most about Ohio Amish Country is driving out on the back roads, or “off the beaten path”.  You just never know what you will see over the hill or around the corner.  It might be a huge 2 horse team pulling a hay wagon down the road, an Amishman leading his horse back home, or a field full of buggies at a farm auction.  You just never know!

One of my favorite things to do is look for unusual phone booths. What, you say? Phone booths in Amish country?  Yes, the Amish have had to give into some technologies. Many years ago, the Amish decided it was too distracting to have a phone in the house and they have stuck to that belief for years.  But with the increased number of home based businesses on the farms, you’ll see many phone booths at the end of the lane, out by the road, or along a country road. 

The very conservative Amish, like the Swartzentruber order, will probably not have a phone at all, but will use one at a business “down the road”.  Other orders, have phone “shacks” where several families get together and have a phone put into a booth in a convenient location.  It’s usually in the name of one of the Amishmen with the others keeping track of their calls and paying their share of the phone bill.  Still others have their own phone, especially in the case of a home-based business, but the phone booth might be in the barn, at the edge of the yard, or end of the lane.  Answering machines will be used so the callers can leave a message.

I’ve seen phone booths with windows and curtains, porches, double phone booths, and even a couple with solar panels on the roof!  It’s something fun to look for as you are driving “off the beaten path”. Ever seen a phone booth with a solar panel on the roof?

When we first moved back to Ohio in 1990, I was not at all familiar with the roads in Holmes County.  The first thing we did was get a map of Holmes County showing all the township roads.  We covered it with laminate and put one in the car and one in my husband’s truck.  We never went anywhere without it. Still don’t.   We learned by experience how easy it is to get lost. 

Now, we carry the Amish Highways and Byways Map.  It not only has Holmes County on it, but Wayne, Tuscarawas, and Stark County.  It is a huge triple-fold map, made by a professional mapmaker with color-coded indexes of all the roads.  So if you have an address of a place you want to go, you can locate the road on the map and figure it out from there.  Many of the bed & breakfasts, restaurants, inns, auction barns, campgrounds and other attractions are shown on the map.  So if you want to go “off the beaten path”, and I highly recommend it, you might want to order one of these maps.  Enjoy!

Verna Schlabach

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