Orange Buggy Flags?

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:

amish buggy ashland ohio


And also in Ohio, in Hardin County (Kenton), they create a “two tower” pattern using blocks of reflective tape:

unusual amish buggy

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.

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    1. Pete Antos-Ketcham

      Amish Homes for Sale

      Where are you looking online for Amish homes for sale? Thanks.

      1. They are not that easy to find, but a combination of Google searches, some sites like, and finding some on Pinterest as well.

    2. Ronald Wallace

      Good idea

      The flags being that color and displayed on the top of the buggy helps the visibility on the hilly roads. lets up coming traffic see them and they can tell there is a slow moving vehicle coming up. A little higher would be better but it is a start.

      1. Doc Kozlowski

        Our rural and Amish friends...

        When the diploma mill H-1Bs flooded the area, we lost our jobs and they had absolutely zero respect for our rural community. Enough said…!

    3. Doc Kozlowski

      Our rural and Amish friends...

      Our people had great respect for the Amish and all other traditional folks. From our perspective, all rural providers always had the right-of-way. They are the lifeblood of the world.

      I’m not Amish. But I have a deep respect for them. Their culture improved my life in a very positive manner…!

    4. Orange Buggy Flags

      I think it’s great that the Amish have these flags and that some also use reflective tape to make “towers” or triangles.

      I STRONGLY believe, however, that the communities in which the Amish live should have an actual lane for Amish buggies. Think about it. This country was founded on religious freedom and that is why the Amish are here. They are wonderful, hard-working, God-fearing people and exude all the qualities that this country was built upon. Faith, family, and work are the hallmarks of the Amish. Why should they NOT be given a special lane in the communities in which they live?

      The lane could be clearly marked and even have a “curb” of sort, or 3 foot high markers along that lane, to delineate that the area is for Amish buggies only. I think this would be WONDERFUL in the downtown areas of, for instance, Middlefield, Ohio. I’ve never been to Berlin or Sugar Creek, Ohio, but I’m sure those downtown areas have a great number of Amish who travel to do shopping, banking, and to conduct business.

      I think it is only fair. This way, cars and trucks and other motorized vehicles could use the road as they always do and Amish buggies could use their part of the road and neither would have to share. It would be safer for everyone.

      Posting “Share The Road” signs and requiring the Amish to use flags and reflective materials is not, and never will be, the safest thing to do.

      1. Doc Kozlowski

        Orange Buggy Flags

        The flags and triangles are very helpful. Whilst growing up in an era
        when we didn’t “please” ourselves 24/7/365 via a cell phone, we focused on our community…!

      2. Doc Kozlowski

        Orange Buggy Flags, etc.

        Rural folks typically understand the rules for properly marking vehicles. Drunks, and non-rural folks, are typically the causative source of issues. The hoard of arrogantly disrespectful and ignorant H-1B’s destroyed many agricultural communities…!

      3. They do have lanes in some larger communities, like Elkhart/LaGrange Counties in Indiana, and in Holmes County.

        Unfortunately in some places it’s just not feasible in terms of the layout of the area and/or impractical from a financial sense, especially in places where few Amish live. But in larger communities you see more of it.

        Here are some photos I took of buggy lanes in Holmes County:

        And I found a much smaller example of something like this in Mississippi earlier this year:

    5. C Dale Bannon

      Orange Buggy Flags

      I have been a bicycle rider most of my life. As an educated rider, I decided early on that to be as safe as possible, I had to wear a belted helmet, I needed a flag as tall as I could find, I needed clothing that made me stand out, I needed flashing lights front and rear, and I needed to obey the rules. Having a short flag is just plain silly. Mount it as high as possible and have an eight foot mast if you can find it. (A tall mast gives the flag movement. Movement catches the eve.) This is just plain common sense. This applies to ANY slow moving vehicle. Strive to be seen as soon as possible. If you love your family, save your own life.

      1. I think an eight foot mast would make passing under things like some bridges and wooded areas difficult.

      2. Reader

        I agree that the Amish should do more to add to their visibility on the road, and having a buggy lane is a good idea in some areas; nevertheless, Englishers will continue to cause accidents and injury if the speed limit is not reduced to a “school zone”. Racing is not cool and keeping distracted or spiteful Englishers on the highway and off the Amish scenic route might be best way for me to love my family and keep them save.

    6. Bill Rowland

      Timelineorange flags

      I’ve had the pleasure of working with not only the Amish but local law enforcemrnt, the Dept. Of Motor Vehicles
      and local government officials with the ongoing steps toward buggy safety. Sometimes the simplest things can be so effective. These orange flags are a great example of just that. I plan to show this to our local Bishop asap. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Glad if it’s helpful Bill. I’m curious how your local bishop will respond and if you feel like sharing that it’s of course welcome.

        1. Bill Rowland

          Otange flag update

          I absolutely will share results of meeting with Bishop Stoltsfus….with Covid lockdown o haven’t seen in person yet. From experience he is very open minded and am confident. Members of his district are very creative with lighting too…..very well lighted buggys here !

    7. Harriet

      Amish homes for Sale

      Hey Erik,

      I was just wondering. If an Englisher bought an Amish home, would they
      be required to install plumbing/bathroom? I know, why wouldn’t you want to… just wondering.

      1. Do you mean as far as adhering to local building codes or something like that? Occasionally Amish have conflicts over things like this as we’ve seen recently in Minnesota, and they have been granted religious waivers as in this case in Wisconsin:

        So the answer would probably depend on local law, which is not always so clear-cut (for instance, in one case in Ohio, old buildings were exempt from some local code requirements which new homes had to adhere to:

    8. Geo

      If you love your family

      If you love your family, save your own life. Wow! I will remember that powerful idea. Any two wheeler, both pedal and motor powered, knows being seen is a matter of life and death. If I were king I would require strobes on all slow and/or low visibility vehicles. Id even require pedestrians on roads used by motor vehicles to carry a strobe. Buggy lanes are a nice idea that might work if users take responsibility for building and maintaining. As a taxpayer I support freedom of religion as long as I’m not financing roads for one particular sect.

      1. Doc Kozlowski

        Safety in rural America...

        Prior to retiring, I rode ~35 miles to and from my office. I lost track of the number of times I was nearly killed by women obsessed with their cell phones. The offenders were always female. At this point, if I see a female on the road with a cell, I pull off the road until free of the self-centered female danger.

        1. Geo

          Cell dangers

          I’m not at all female and have hundreds of thousand miles behind me. Even so, with my first cell phone, I found talking while driving made me momentarily blind even with my eyes on the road. The first time it happened I almost hit a bridge abutment. The lesson stuck and I never touch my phone on the road. It’s no surprise people taking eyes off the road to text cause crashes. Anyone caught texting at the wheel should have their vehicle confiscated. It’s just that dangerous.

    9. Interesting article, Erik. Just one thought….

      “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…”

      I suppose an Amish family moving into an already-built English home would fit this description, but the looks of the house along with the fact that it doesn’t have indoor plumbing / bathroom suggests this is not the case.

      The only other answer brings up a separate interesting question of its own: That there were Amish individuals/family there for some years before the community was (officially) established. You have a much broader range of experience with the Amish than I do, but I don’t recall hearing of an individual Amish person or family living isolated in a place from any other Amish. So that begs the question: At what point is a new Amish community officially “established”? Is it when the first Amish individual builds a home? Is it when there are a given number of Amish families/homes within a certain number of miles? Or is it possibly when the community’s own church is birthed? If possibly the latter, I could easily see that in struggling new settings how the occasional community might have a particularly hard time getting good enough traction to have its own church — what with possible difficulty in attracting enough families, early disharmony with the English community, various reasons that new families might opt to soon move away, difficulty in finding a minister to join them, etc., etc. Thoughts?