I just found this unusual photo while checking out Amish homes for sale online.
I have often seen similar flags attached to pony carts and other smaller vehicles used by Amish. Those are pretty common in larger communities like Holmes County (and a good idea there, considering the area’s hilly terrain). But I’ve never seen them on full-sized buggies – or at least not as an SMV triangle substitute, which is what this appears to be. You can see the backs of the vehicles – where the triangle would go – are rolled up.
Now I may be wrong, and they have removed the triangles after parking the buggies, and then rolling up the flap. But the fact that we see this same setup on two buggies suggests the flag is stepping in for the triangle in this community.
At first I thought that one buggy has two flags, and the other just one.
But looking at this more distant photo below and more closely at the first, you can see that the third flag appears to belong to a third buggy, partially blocked by the closest buggy.
The photos are from a home in Albany, Ohio, which is in Athens County. Like others we’ve seen recently, the home has no plumbing or bathrooms. That tells you it is a plainer community.
And it’s in plainer Amish communities that you’re more likely to find objections to the “flashy” SMV triangle. In some cases, like with the Swartzentruber Amish, alternatives such as reflective tape and lanterns suffice for nighttime visibility. Others adopt attention-getting alternatives to the triangle.
Two examples: Amish at a community in Ashland County, Ohio have a silver reflective tape-outlined triangle, enclosing a central red reflector:
And also in Ohio, in Hardin County (Kenton), they create a “two tower” pattern using blocks of reflective tape:
So why flags in this community, and not some other alternative like the above Ohio communities? Looking at the Athens County Wikipedia page, we learn this about the terrain:
Athens County is located in the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau region of Ohio. It features steep, rugged hills, with typical relief of 150 to 400 feet, deeply dissected by stream valleys…
So maybe that explains the decision to use flags here. They improve visibility, especially when passing over the crest of a hill. You get another one to two feet of being seen.
Here’s another shot of the house in Athens County which these “flag buggies” are attached to. No photos from inside the home, but you can see the listing here.
One last interesting detail to mention. Strangely, the current Albany community, according to Joe Donnermeyer’s research, was founded just this year. But the listing says this home was built in 2007, and was last listed for sale back in 2017. It’s possible there was another community here which failed, and that a fresh community was founded just this year. That happens sometimes.