Say the words “Pennsylvania Amish”, and Lancaster County inevitably comes to mind. But Pennsylvania is a state covered with Amish settlements, with over 50 as of 2010 (see Young Center 2010).
The Amish community in Juniata County is one of the Keystone State’s many lesser-known settlements. I had a chance to visit Juniata County last week while returning to Lancaster County from Big Valley.
Juniata County was created by carving off a chunk of Mifflin County way back in 1831. What was leftover from Mifflin County now borders Juniata County to the northwest. Mifflin County is home to the Big Valley Amish settlement, much better-known when it comes to Amish.
A bit confusingly, the seat of Juniata County, and the town often associated with the county’s Amish settlement, is actually named Mifflintown.
The settlement was founded in 1950 when Amish from Mifflin County and other states began to settle the area (see GAMEO-Juniata County).
Juniata County is filled with rolling hills and stretches of forested land. The Juniata river snakes its way through the county and past nearby Amish farms. The county itself has a relatively sparse population. You won’t find much if any of the Amish tourist attractions and traffic congestion that mark parts of Lancaster County.
Amish farms and homes are found nestled among the county’s hills, valleys and ridges. Signs for small businesses dot the settlement.
A few of the businesses I saw included a sign painting business, a buggy shop, stamp shop, lumber mill, harness shop, basket makers, and a clock repair business which specializes in restoring antique clocks.
I’m told there is also an Amishman here who sells binoculars and other optical devices, particularly useful for birdwatchers.
As in other highly rural Amish settlements, dairies abound in Juniata County. The occasional stench of chicken farms, which supply a large local chicken processing plant, is the only thing I didn’t enjoy about my visit.