What is this thing?

grabill indiana amishSMV triangle, streamlined top, mini-door.  What is this thing?  A road-ready chicken coop?

I took this photo yesterday in the Allen County (Grabill) Indiana Amish settlement.

Today I’m off to Michigan.  Will have more on this photo tomorrow, but til then, what do you think?

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    1. Trudy Biccum

      What Is This Thing?

      My guess is a phone shanty?

      1. mary


        I think it’s an outside toilet.

    2. BethR

      Not sure, but I bet you could beat it in a race. 🙂

    3. Amish Stories

      Id say that it was my house, where else can i take a shower and microwave a TV dinner at the same time! Richard http://www.Amishstorys.com

    4. Katie Troyer

      It fits on the back of their buggy when they take the back seat off.

    5. Iza

      it looks like Amish portable toilet!!!


    6. Robin Miller

      What is it?

      I’m thinking along the lines of Katie … maybe a camper of sorts to put on top of a buggy?

      1. Donna Harmon


        I think it might be an Amish Camper, lol.

    7. I’d say since it looks like it fits in a wagon – hence the skids but no wheels or axles – it is used to carry maybe crates of eggs or other products to market. Probably a couple of people lift it in the wagon, and then the merchandise is put inside. The other possibility is that someone crafted a neat little sleeping box to go in a wagon for when they are going to market the night before.

    8. Robin Wyatt

      A buggy camper or shelter of some kind?

    9. MaryLou

      What is This Thing

      It is a camper, that goes on the back of the wagon.

    10. Fr. Andre Leveille, CSC

      It is a hut for fishing.
      The two runners on the bottom gave me the clue.
      The triangle, because it has to be portable.
      Sitting in one of these waiting for a fish to bite
      is my idea of hell.

      1. S Lavy

        Yes, looks like an “ice house” aka an ice fishing hut. But no need to freeze in there…we heat ours, and it has benches under which the coolers (for snacks and caught fish) slide and on which we nap…

        Looks near the back like there might be one of those really skinny “chimneys” (really they are vent tubes of some kind) with a Coke can over top of it, exactly the rig we use to keep out birds/bugs in the summer.

        Doubt it goes on a buggy; Allen County Amish use open buggies, so would have to go on a wagon….that only for transport. But my guess is the guy has his own water nearby and just pulls it on the skids we can see….over frozen ground it would pull pretty easily, or ours does anyway.

    11. Alecia

      I am also guessing it is an ice fishing hut. It could be a phone shanty but I don’t think it would have the triangle sign on it. Hmmmmmm!

    12. Mary

      Its an enclosed box they put on the back of a horse drawn vehicle when they want to haul something that shouldn’t be rained on or get too cold, etc. In Allen Co. they use only open buggys, (topless). They could also use it to seat their children in, to protect them from severe cold weather in the winter.

    13. Nancy

      What Is This????

      I would say, because it is leveled to fit the ground, as in more wood on this side to level it. It is in a pasture, so no great care has to be taken. If people slept in it or used it for produce it would be terribly lopsided for travelling, and it does have a metal roof to make it stable, so as a few have already said, I would call it a portapotty. For the farmers when they are out haying or doing farm work. That keeps the house cleaner and I would say that it is big enough that there could even be a washstand in it.
      It could very well be a phone shanty though.
      Just not sure why a slow triangle would be on it unless….. it was put there to transport it to the position it is in now.

    14. Osiah Horst

      Not a portapotty for men – they go where they can.
      Not a market wagon – the back door is to small
      Not for carrying people – it has no windows
      Not a phone shanty – the door would be larger and it would have a window
      It looks as though it were made to go on the back of a carriage or market wagon. There are handles at the bottom corner to lift it on.

    15. Lance

      I don’t think it is for ice fishing, the back under the door is not filled in, leaving the wind to blow under, brrrr. The size of the SMV symbol in relation to the rest of it makes me believe it is a removable top for a hack or small wagon. It looks too small for a full size farm wagon. Also, there seems to be a flashing light on top. By why put it on the ground? That makes it hard to put back on, keep it elevated and it’s easy to reinstall. Hmmm.

      A phone shanty would have a full size door, would it not? That door seems too small.

      It will be interesting to find out what it really is.

    16. Katie Troyer

      I think Osiah Horst is right on.

    17. Dena

      What is this thing?

      RV for one? There may be windows on the 2 sides we can’t see!!

    18. Mona G.

      My guess also was a phone shanty……will wait to hear from you to see the real answer 🙂

      Keep up the good work Erik…..

    19. M. Hofmeister

      It might be (or perhaps have been) a movable shelter for a shepherd. It does not have wheels, but as soon as you put it on some sort of slow vehicle, the sign makes sense. Uncommon nowadays, but many years ago (up until mid of 20th century I would think) such shelters were very common in those rural areas of Europe that had lots of pasture and sheep on them, as their guardian had to stay near them in any and every weather, often day and night. So the shepherd had some sort of a hut on wheels.
      But perhaps I am just too romantically minded.

    20. Mona G.

      I just thought of something else…..since it had an orange triangle above the door…maybe a thing to haul their horses,etc to be sold/auction off !!!!!

    21. Marilyn fron New York

      I would say it hooks on the back of the buggy or wagon and you put your cakes, pies, vegetables, etc. in when you are going to a bake sale or maybe a roadside stand.

    22. Debbie Welsh

      Maybe it’s exactly what Erik joked about, a road ready chicken coop that attaches to the back of a wagon when taking the chickens to auction! The only other thing I would venture a guess at would be some kind of ice house that again attaches to the back of a wagon in order to haul fresh meat, poultry, dairy, and the like to market.

    23. Corky Meade

      Slide in camper

      I am thinking it is a slide in camper for a open back buggy, much like the ones that go on a pickup truck.

    24. My first thought is a deluxe outhouse. 🙂 But who knows? Looking forward to seeing what it is.

    25. MaryAnn Pepe

      Just kidding but...

      Is it a “shunning shack” that is sitting too close to the road?

    26. Amish Stories

      What is that thing!

      You know what they say ” if you see thing rocking”…………………”Don’t come a knocking” !. ……………..Richard http://www.Amishstorys.com

    27. Kathy Rowe

      You are a riot !!!!

    28. lanore

      What is this thing?

      Looks like a port-a-potty…. =-D

    29. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Could be an Amish Child’s play-set, pretend you’re in a horse and buggy, type deal. Or maybe it’s that family’s low-to-the-ground adaptation of a children’s tree house.
      If some of the descriptions of some of Erik’s Old Order friends is any indication, it may be the proverbial doghouse, for instance his friend who “can drive” might be in deep trouble with the Mrs. might find himself here, perhaps it’s an Amish man-cave in that regard.
      Perhaps its just a shed the rigged up using old pieces of this and that, and they happened to have a slow-moving-vehicle sign laying about.

      I remember the most kick-bottom tree-house I ever saw as a kid looked so thought out yet so stitched together using junk pieces and apparently leftover material that I was jealous of the lucky farm kid that had it.

    30. Lee Ann

      Looks like a sheep wagon. You sleep in it while out herding the sheep. But no wheels on it. The red light on the top is strange, unless its a portable thing. Couldn’t be the phone shanty with that red light on top and the red triangle. Has to be a sheep wagon.

    31. Lois Morgan

      Basque Sheepherders Wagon

      When we lived in Idaho we spent five weeks in the back country and shared our campground with several sheepherders and their flocks and their horses. Two of the horses we got to know very well, since they raided our garbage every night, until the shepherd put cow bells on them. The Sheepherders spend the nights in the wagons since the nights in Idaho even in the summer get pretty cold. The sheepherders didn’t speak very much English and we didn’t speak any Portuguese, but we did figure out the horses were named Oliver and Isabel.

    32. Char

      A camper, to be pulled by a team of horses.

    33. Jessica

      Reminds me of the the canvas back on the old conestoga wagons. I can picture it sitting in the wagon box. Wouldn’t be easy to breathe in there though.

    34. Leo

      Nebraska Amish ice fishing shack. haha

    35. Sabby

      It’s for the children to sit/stand in when waiting for the bus, so that they don’t have to stand out in the cold or rain.