Two interesting Amish-related links today.
The first is not really a story about Amish, but touches on a place where a number of them work. Canton-based Belden Brick, through its Plant no. 6, has been a local institution in Sugarcreek, Ohio since 1957.
Belden’s facilities dominate the town, and driving down the main thoroughfare, you cross railroad tracks that link the two halves of the facility, various varieties and shades of brick piled high on either side. Amish men can often be seen piloting forklifts as they move material about the yards.
The story, about green jobs, rust belt unemployment, and the politics surrounding the issues, describes among other things Belden’s current economic challenges (no longer online).
And Kevin at the Amish Cook blog points to an article about Amish and Mennonites visiting the site of an old Amish settlement in New Mexico. Amish attempted to settle around the town of Chico in 1921, founding a community which maxed out at 10 families before expiring in 1929.
I haven’t been able to find evidence of later settlements, but it seems Beachy Amish have had and may still have a presence in New Mexico today. While the original link seems to have expired, here is another link to the cached version of the Trinidad News article (whoops-that’s gone now too!) where you can still read the text.
It’s an interesting article for the description of the settlement, but also as an example of Amish engaging in domestic historical tourism. Amish typically have an interest in their own history and genealogy, and some Amish even travel by boat to visit Anabaptist points of interest in Europe.
Of the New Mexico trip, the Amish tour historian commented that “It’s a thrill. It’s like a thrill of watching your kid be baptized or your marriage ceremony. It’s one of the highlights. It would be a right [sic] of passage for me as a senior.”
As for the Chico community itself, David Luthy adds the following on its demise, from his exceptional Settlements that Failed:
“When the Amish had moved to New Mexico in 1921 there was a saying going around that the only people who died in New Mexico were the doctors who starved to death because the climate was so healthy that they didn’t get enough patients to make a living. But the settlers soon wished they had never heard that saying. While the climate was healthy, it might best be called a “vacation climate” rather than a “farming climate.” All sunshine and no rain make tourists happy but not farmers.”