Is This “First Air-Conditioned Top Buggy” Real?

This is a story about Dinky’s Auction House in the Amish settlement in Daviess County, Indiana. It contains an intriguing detail which goes largely unexplained. There is a photo showing a buggy described as the “First Air Conditioned Top Buggy” (below).

Photos by Pat McDonogh – Courier Journal

So this is something I’ve never heard of before. We’ve discussed heating in buggies. We have seen solar-powered buggies. But the air-conditioned buggy is a new one.

Is this a joke? It doesn’t seem so. The photo is accompanied by the caption “An Amish buggy with air conditioning was set to be auctioned at Dinky’s.”

As you can see there is a placard with what appears to be a description of this buggy in the photo. I tried to enlarge it, but the photo is too small to make much of it out (I think I see the words “Cool ride” – maybe one of you with sharper eyes can do better than I did).




It’s possible this might be permitted for someone who is elderly or with a medical condition. It gets pretty warm in southern Indiana. There have been cases where some Amish with medical conditions have had air-conditioning in their homes.

So, a bit of a mystery…

Dinky’s Auction House

The rest of the article is a look at the auction house which has a two-decade-plus history:

It all started 22 years ago when John Lengacher had a vision. Lengacher, owner of Daviess County Metal Sales, noticed that his employees would disappear on certain afternoons.

“I found out they were going to an auction barn in Mitchell, Indiana. They sold everything, calves, goats, antiques, etc. There was no auction house in our area and I thought It’d be nice if we had an auction here too,” Lengacher said.

He had the idea but needed a place.

As Lengacher explains it: “Jake ‘Dinky’ Stoll was a Mennonite man with two daughters. … His nickname came from a creek that ran through the property.The girls got married and he passed away. His 40 acres were dead center in the middle of the Amish community, but not for sale. I made arrangements to meet with them. They showed interest and lo and behold (the daughters) sold me the acres. As it turned out they loved auctions too.”

But Lengacher points out: “If you want someone to remember the name of a business, it has to be short, simple and memorable. … When we put (Dinky’s) on the building, and it was instantly a household name. We didn’t even have to put an ad in the paper.

“The first night I worried that no one would come. We ended up with 300 to 400 people, within six months we totaled 2,000 to 3,000 people each night.

Dinky’s is well-known nationally attracting Amish from around the country. I remember when I was selling books in this community, you could hardly catch anyone at home (the men anyway) on Friday nights because they were “down at Dinky’s”. The three-day spring sale is a big event where you can purchase buggies, machinery and more.

You can read the rest and see other photos here. Here are a couple more (photos by Pat McDonogh – Courier Journal).

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    10 Comments

    1. Ryan H

      Those are great photos. If you enlarge the one on the website, you can read it:

      “Powered two ways
      Same 12 volt battery that runs the buggy lights
      Recharge battery to 110 home outlet
      Power inverter wired in buggy
      Have a Cool Ride
      Sells #67 @ the first of buggy sell (?) Tomorrow”

      1. Ah, thanks Ryan! You must have found a larger version. The one I posted is 520 pixels wide and was too blurry to read when I made it larger.

        I still wonder about the story with this buggy though. I kind of doubt that A/C-equipped buggies are going to become a regular thing anytime soon, and I don’t think this would be intended for a non-Amish buyer since it looks to be designed like an Amish buggy otherwise. Maybe a novelty thing, or maybe meant for a special health situation like I mentioned above…

        1. Al in Ky

          Erik — When I visit the settlement later this spring, I’ll ask around to get more information about the air conditioned buggy and then report what I find here in Amish America.

          1. That would be great Al, thanks!

    2. buggy technology

      Don’t know about the air conditioning possibility, but Amish buggies often have other advanced technologies in them. There’s more about that here:
      https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/car-technology/a24666/how-the-amish-build-a-buggy/

    3. Al in Ky

      I was able to enlarge the picture when I clicked on the link to the full newspaper article and could read a little more — “Powered two ways. Same 12 volt auto battery that runs the buggy lights. Precharge battery to 110 home outlet.” I couldn’t read enough to understand what is the other way of powering the air conditioner.

      I’ve been to Dinky’s many times in the past 20 years. It starts at 6 p.m. almost every Friday night of the year. I think there are usually two or three Friday nights during the year when there is no regular auction. You can go to Dinky’s website for a listing of those three Fridays when there is no auction. The website also lists many special auctions at Dinky’s throughout the year. There is an Amish produce auction building across the road from Dinky’s where produce auctions are held two or three days each week from about May through October. If a person was going to be in the area, it would make for an interesting Friday to go to the produce auction in the morning, visit some Amish stores in the area in the afternoon, eat at one of several Amish-style restaurants for dinner, and then go to Dinky’s in the evening.

      When I’ve been to Dinky’s there have been up to ten auction rings going at the same time. Many of the auctioneers are Amish, as are the clerks, cashiers, etc. There is a food stand that sells hamburgers, french fries, pie, ice cream, etc. which is run on a rotating basis usually by Amish school groups. There is also a bakery stand, as well as a large produce stand that sells many kinds of produce. Auction starts at 6, goes on for several hours depending on how much there is to sell — everything from livestock to produce to antiques to boxes of junk.

      I’ve got lots of Dinky’s stories from through the years, but my favorite one is when I was talking with some New Order Amish from Salem, Indiana one day after an auction. The youth boys from that settlement had taken some small animals (like baby goats or rabbits) over to Dinky’s to sell.
      Auction started at 6 p.m, but their small animals weren’t on the auction stand til about midnight! I’ve often wondered what the record is for what has been the latest closing time for a Dinky’s auction.

      1. Wow, I didn’t know they can go so late. I am not the auction aficionado many Amish are, so my visits to Amish auctions are usually just a few hours max.

        I enjoyed learning about the origin of the name of this place. John Lengacher is right, something short, simple and memorable is what you want. And to me that’s what “Dinky’s” is. Always seemed such a funny name, but I never asked anyone where it came from…kinda neat that the name also honors the earlier Mennonite owner of the land.

        Al I know you’ve mentioned Dinky’s here before…you are our unofficial expert on this place 🙂

    4. Harriet

      Washing machines

      Wow!! Do those washing machines bring back memories. They are just like the one my grandma used when I was a child. Loved seeing the pics!!

    5. Debbie H

      Enjoyed this article. I haven’t been to an auction in years and never an Amish auction. Would like to schedule that in next time I am visiting my sister in Ohio during Spring or Fall.

    6. Nancy

      wringer washers

      The wringer washing machines are very familiar to me. My family used one during all of my growing up years. My mother scorned the more modern washers as a waste of water. We had long clothes lines in our back yard that we used to hang our freshly washed clothes on. During winter we used clothes lines that my dad rigged up in our basement. I was the youngest of four kids, and we finally got an electric clothes dryer when I was an older teen in the late 1960’s. The photo does bring back memories, not all of them good. I always wondered why my mother refused to advance to modern-day living. Such a stubborn woman. She grew up in a large family (12 kids) in Missouri, and neither she nor any of her siblings were educated past 8th grade. She said her grandparents spoke Pennsylvania Dutch, though she didn’t learn it herself. There may (or not) have been some Amish in the family.