The Young Center of Elizabethtown College has just released annual Amish population estimates. The big news: over the past year Amish settled two states with no existing communities.
At around half a million people, Wyoming is America’s least-populated state, but one of the largest in area. If Amish find the place suitable, they will have room to stretch their legs.
I don’t know much about Idaho yet. The Gem State most recently saw an Amish community from 2000-2004, in the vicinity of Bonner’s Ferry in Boundary County.
Last year in “Could Amish be headed to your neighborhood?” I wondered how Amish might do in new locations. Idahoan Rusty Downey wrote about her home: “much nicer weather conditions [than Colorado], much farm land and people love Amish crafts.” Perhaps the new arrivals got Rusty’s message. Another reader reported an “Amish sighting” near Nampa, which may have in fact been a Mennonite sighting, as some conservative Mennonites do make their home in the state.
In any case, Idaho and Wyoming are the latest Western states settled by Amish, joining Colorado and Montana and a number of Plains states. Amish heading west have to adapt to differences in climate which affect the way they make a living. You don’t see the same lush farmlands as in the East, one reason land is cheaper.
With the new additions, Amish can now be found in 30 states and one Canadian province. The Young Center’s 2012 Amish population tables can be seen here. You can also read the 2012 population trend summary.