10 views of Nappanee, Indiana

Today we have the latest installment in our regular 10 views feature. I took these photos last summer while in the Nappanee, Indiana Amish community. The town of Nappanee is at the center of a large Amish community of around 5,000 people, which stretches over 4 northern Indiana counties: Kosciusko, Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph.  Founded in the early 1840s, this community is one of the two oldest in Indiana.

Nappanee is an interesting area in that it’s one of the few places you’ll find Amish and Old Order Mennonites living more-or-less next door to each other. The Amish community is much larger than that of the Old Order Mennonites, which is centered near the town of Wakarusa.

Nappanee is home to Amish Acres, one of the older Amish-themed tourist attractions in the country. Amish Acres is based at a former Amish farm, and has been in operation for over 40 years. This popular destination also includes the Round Barn theater, which has hosted the Plain and Fancy musical among others (looks like the Johnny Cash show was in town the week I visited).

Below you’ll see a couple of photos of the numerous Amish-owned small businesses in the area.  In addition to farming the men here have long worked in the recreational vehicle industry.  One of my favorite things about this community are the railroad tracks which run through Nappanee and bisect the Amish community.  Trains pass through pretty frequently.  There are a number of crossings; in some cases you have to wait (as you can see in the photo below), at other crossings overpasses let you continue on under the tracks.

Nappanee Water Tower

Amish Train Crossing Nappanee

Round Barn Theatre Nappanee

Nappanee Amish Buggy

Amish Home Nappanee IN

Stetta Discount Nappanee

Childrens Bicycles Nappanee

Little Nook Amish Bookstore

Mennonite Farm Nappanee

Two Hoops Nappanee

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    22 Comments

    1. Erik, are you planning a trip to Kalona anytime this year? I’m now in Iowa City, so let me know if you have time to meet up!

      1. The Plain community and the Amish store in Stringtown were used to entice me to settle here!

      2. Magdalena I don’t think it’s in the plans for this year but would enjoy that on my next visit. It’s true I’m about due to get west of the Mississippi again.

    2. I f you have the opportunity – Amtrak comes into Burlington, just across the Big Muddy. We can arrange to meet you there, if you’d like.

      1. Thanks Magda, and how am I not surprised there is an Amtrak stop in the vicinity!

      2. Amtrak also stops in Mt. Pleasant which is closer to Iowa City and right on Hwy. 218. Magdalena, I am always interested in your comments especially now that you are in Iowa. I’m closer to the Buchanan County settlement but want to get to Kalona.

        I can’t say I grew up plain, but there were bits and pieces such as “going to meeting”, never church. I also wore a head covering at meeting. The boys and girls in Sunday School sat on opposite sides, although the families sat together. It’s been interesting on this site when people refer to themselves as plain but not Amish. Never encountered that before. Have a great day!

    3. Lee Ann

      Beautiful photos Erik! My husband is from Terra Haute. We would like to go back there one of these days. Don’t know if there are any Amish communities around his old home base. Do you know of any near there, that we might be able to visit?

      Im not at all familiar with that part of the country.

      1. Lance

        Lee Ann,

        There are Amish all around Terra Haute. The largest community would be Daviess Co, IN. The Amish there are primarily northeast of Washington and northwest of Loogootee. Canelburg-Odon road runs right through the community and Dinky’s auction barn is on that road. There is a auction there every Friday evening and many Amish attend and work at it.

        Next would be Parke Co, IN. These Amish are mostly Lancaster transplants and are located primarily east and northeast of Rockville. Someone printed up a map of the Amish businesses, but whether it is still available or where you would get it, I don’t know.

        Almost 1/2 way between those 2 is the Worthington, IN New Order Amish community. It is small and getting smaller last I heard. The Amish live north of town and west of the crossroads called Freedom, IN.

        There is another New Order community at Flat Rock, IL but that is all I know of them.

        Arthur, IL is not too terribly far from Terra Haute, but I have never made that drive nor been there, so you are on your own with them. All I know is from pictures and they are similar to Daviess Co.

        Visiting the 3 Indiana communities would make for a long, one gas tank full day trip. Don’t be afraid to stop in a store.

    4. Rachel

      Picutres

      Hey Erick! Thanks for posting these pics! I noticed on a house roof they have 1913, do you have any idea what this means? I have seen these kinds of things on the sides of barns but never on a house? It would be intrestings to hear the story bihind this 🙂

      Blessings
      Rachel

      1. Thanks Rachel, this may be wrong, but I’ve always thought this had to do with when the home was originally constructed. The home in the photo doesn’t look 100 years old but has probably been refurbished somewhere along the line.

        1. OldKat

          My home has “1918” in stained glass in the front gable end window. In our case it is the year the home was built.

          It looks like they somehow did the ‘1913’ in shingles or something. Interesting.

          Nice photos BTW.

    5. Lance

      I have visited this community more than any other, but I never considered it as a place try to join the Amish. They have, by far, the loosest Ordnung of any Amish that call themselves Old Order, at least from my viewpoint. That is their choice, I am not interested in that much drift. To quote then Amish convert Kevin Fall, “we are like two ships going in opposite directions”.

      Bicycles are heavily used in this community. When school is in session, the school yard will have a huge pile of bicycles. Even the little ones ride to school. None of the schools are on highways here, just on the back roads. All ages and genders ride here. Many Amish here use recumbent bicycles and find them much more comfortable to ride.

      There are lots of small stores in this community. Many have electric lights and commercial refrigerator/freezers, yet they do not use electricity from the grid power lines. I assume they use diesel generators, as you always hear a motor running. In all of these stores, prices are much better than in regular stores. I like that Little Nook bookstore that Erik took a picture of the sign, friendly people there and they have selections for both Amish and english readers. If you want to know what the Amish believe, go there and get “In Meiner Jugend” and “1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life”. Both books are inexpensive, something like $2 each. Pathway Bookstore near LaGrange, In, Aylmer, ON and Raber’s bookstore in Baltic, OH also have these 2 books.

      Farming as a primary occupation is down to about 10% in this community. Many people work in the nearby mobile home and RV factories. In 2008, the economic downturn was so severe here, that the Amish were forced to allow the members to accept gov’t unemployment payments. Many Amish setup furniture making and other home shop businesses, only to drop them and run back to the factories when they started up again in 2010. The money is that good and easy to get. The nearby Elkhart/LaGrange Amish community is very similar, especially the Elkhart Co. portion. When a Amishman retires in this community, he can receive Social Security payments, if he paid in and qualifies for the payments. These are the only Amish that I know that accept Social Security and unemployment payments.

      In this community, the Amish hire professional drivers to ferry themselves around on Sundays. Some times it to go to a relative’s church a long way away, but often it just to visit for the day. No longer do they wait to pay on another day, they pay on Sunday. I was shocked to learn recently about the paying the driver that day, but I heard right from a Amish that lives there so I think that he was telling the truth. I did not stay Amish over the Sunday drivers thing and now I hear of the paying on Sunday, and I want nothing to do with that, so it will keep me away. Severely disappointing to me.

    6. Alice Mary

      Interesting views...and "views"!

      Thanks for the pix, Erik. I, too, wondered about the “1913” on the roof.

      I got a chuckle from the “DUAL height/type of basketball hoops in the last photo (also, how appropriate, in the Hoosier state!)

      Lance brings up interesting points, which to an Englisher like myself are certainly thought-provoking, and speak to the vast differences in Amish communities across the country.

      I always like to know about more book stores, and I actually own one of the books (1001 Questions) Lance mentions. I got mine at Raber’s—I also got a couple of coloring books from there that I color in—good therapy at any age!

      Alice Mary

      1. Yes indeed, you can see by the Amish sports preference how much of a basketball state it is.

    7. Great pictures!! I went to Daviess County last summer and never did post any of those pics (no clue why) but these remind me of those – everything looks so neat and tidy. I wanted to move there but my husband wouldn’t drive 4 hours each way to work and back. The nerve! HA HA Thanks for sharing ~

    8. Carolyn B

      Buggy Rear View Window?

      Erik, In the buggy picture, is that a rear view window? Would it be made of real glass or acrylic? I don’t think I’ve seen a closed buggy like this before.
      Thanks for taking all these photos.

      1. Carolyn at the top you can see there is a roll-up flap that is pinned up. Some Amish buggies do have small windows at the back though. You can see an example here, about halfway down the page: https://amishamerica.com/the-amish-of-mechanicsville-maryland/

    9. Claire

      Hi there Erik.

      I have a question that is unrelated to that of this article, but I figured the most recent post would sooner be given acknowledgement and (hopefully) a response. I was born and raised in Mifflin County, PA. I have family from Lancaster (my great great grandfather) who was born Amish. Is there any resource available to trace my genealogy? Before he was married, he is essentially nonexistent.

      Thanks so much!

      1. Tracing Mifflin County Amish genealogy

        Hi Claire, the short answer is, yes probably. There are a number of genealogical books that can be found in Amish bookstores. Do you have one in the vicinity? I would recommend stopping by and checking–I don’t know enough about specific Amish ancestry in Mifflin Co to be able to tell you but depending on your family line there is probably a resource which you’d be able to use.

        For example one of the better-known “Amish ancestors” is Jacob Hochstetler, who has many descendants today and is the subject of a genealogy: http://books.google.pl/books/about/Descendants_of_Jacob_Hochstetler_the_imm.html?id=Q_RUAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

        Specific to Mifflin County, there is also a book called Mifflin County Amish and Mennonite story, 1791-1991 by Duane Kauffman. I would bet this would be of help, I haven’t read it all the way through but it seems to be a pretty extensive work.

        http://www.amazon.com/Mifflin-County-Amish-Mennonite-1791-1991/dp/B0006D9MPU

    10. George

      Erik,
      as always I love your pix, haven’t seen a round barn in a while.
      Thanks for posting.
      I don’t travel so your pix are always a joy to view, keep up the good work!

    11. Lindsay

      I’ll br there this weekend! However, I was wondering if the towns are ghost towns on Sunday? The husband and I are planning in that day to hike on the pumpkin vine trail from Middlebury to Shipshewana, but we were hoping there might be a few restaurants that are open for a quick bite.