Nappanee: Embrace the Pace

Nappanee’s many shops, beautifully restored murals, and storied architecture can be enjoyed with a leisurely stroll.

The Nappanee water tower reflects the town's heritage. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Nappanee water tower reflects the town’s heritage. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A window to another world, the quiet rhythms of Amish life—more than 3,500 Old Order Amish make their homes here—are revealed along back roads dotted with pristine white farmhouses, grazing cattle, and the eclectic Countryside Shoppes, a collection of rural retailers offering everything from quilts to cabinetry.

The town’s colorful history is preserved at the Nappanee Center. It’s packed with fascinating memorabilia and includes a tribute to the area’s celebrated cartoonists and generations of furniture crafters.

Prior to 1800 Nappanee was home to the Miami and Pottawatomi Indians. In 1830, the first white settlers came to the area and by 1870 there were seven farms and a population of forty providing the nucleus of a growing community.

The major catalyst for growth came with the B&O Railroad in 1874. Three pioneer farmers gave five acres to the Railroad for $1 to build a station along its new route to Chicago. This access to a major transportation route brought more settlers to the town that B&O dubbed “Nappanee.”

The families who populated the area were deeply religious and conservative, founding their community on the values of hard work and integrity.

Acclaimed as Indiana's best meal, the family style Thresher's dinner can be enjoyed at Amish Acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Acclaimed as Indiana’s best meal, the family style Thresher’s dinner can be enjoyed at Amish Acres. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The B&O has now become CSX, but Nappanee has some ways stayed the Nappanee of the 1880s. The city remains surrounded by many farm families of the Anabaptist religious sects, among them the Amish, Mennonite, and German Baptist.

Many surrounding farms have no electricity, natural gas or telephone lines connecting them to the outside world and horse-drawn buggies the main source of travel. These reminders of the past co-exist side-by-side with a modern American city, boasting a thriving light manufacturing industry focused on recreational vehicles and modular homes, as well as craftsmen who mix old and new in producing fine furniture and other woodwork.

Currently, Nappanee is home to a diverse population of approximately 7,070.

Amish Acres

Experience the restoration of the Stahly-Nissley-Kuhns farmstead, the only Amish farm listed in The National Register of Historic Places. Widow Barbara Stahly and her five sons migrated from Germany to the southwest corner of Elkhart County, in 1839, making them, according to University of Chicago historian James Landing, likely the first Amish settlers in Indiana.

Following a year of meticulous restoration Amish Acres opened to the public in 1970. Enjoy the Award Winning Family Style Threshers Dinner served at your table under the hand-hewn timbers of the Century-Old Restaurant Barn.

Many handmade crafts and locally produced products are featured in Amish Acres’ unique shops. In addition you will find a bakery full of old fashioned breads and cakes, a meat and cheese shop with souse, headcheese, and buffalo meat, and a candy shop as sweet as it gets along with an antique marble soda fountain.

An Amish Acres tradition, Plain and Fancy, now in its 27th season, fills the Round Barn Theatre stage each April through October. This gentle but spirited musical comedy brought the first national attention to the quaint customs, stern morals, and picturesque dress of the Amish. Over 3,000 shows have been performed, and over 300,000 patrons have marveled at Amish Acres nationally recruited cast.

Enjoy a factory tour and watch quality Class A motorhomes come off the assembly line at Newmar Corp. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Enjoy a factory tour and watch quality Class A motorhomes come off the assembly line at Newmar Corp. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Location: Along US 6, 1 mile west of downtown Nappanee

Address: 1600 West Market Street, Nappanee, IN 46550

Phone: (574) 773-4188 or (800) 800-4942 (toll free)

Website: amishacres.com

Please Note: This is Part 6 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

Don’t hurry, don’t worry, do your best, leave the rest. Bibles that are coming apart usually belong to people who are not. It may be difficult to wait on the Lord, but it is worse to wish you had” Don’t pray when it rains, if you don’t pray when the sun shines. Be like the teakettle; when it’s up to its neck in hot water, it sings. You can tell when you’re on the right track. It’s usually uphill.

—Amish quotes on Faith

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Touring Amish Country

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop down the road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip, clop down the road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s a soothing sound, this steady beat of horse hooves on asphalt. And it’s a sound heard often in Amish Country.

Driving the country roads that zigzag Indiana’s Amish communities, you’ll pass numerous horse-drawn buggies—a visible reminder that life is different here.

You’ll share the roads with Amish buggies and marvel at these quiet people of faith who choose to live a simple, uncluttered lifestyle. Think of it as an opportunity to slow your pace and enjoy the calm of the country.

And that’s one of the best things about Amish Country—taking things slowly.

Time seems to travel backwards, asphalt changes to dirt with scenes becoming more 1800s than 21st century.

Young girls wearing bonnets and homemade cotton dresses maneuver horse and buggies and horse-pulled lorries loaded with colorful fall produce.

Amish arts and crafts in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Amish arts and crafts in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Green squares of lawn with unadorned white farmhouses advertise fresh eggs, honey, and chickens and if the timing is just right, bake sales of just out-of-the-oven breads and fruit pies made by Amish women.

Rows of black pants and pastel-colored dresses flap from the clotheslines in the autumn breeze.

It is 19th century farm life in an area of Northern Indiana called Amish Country.

Each of the communities in Amish Country—Nappanee, Shipshewana, Goshen, Middlebury, and Wakarusa—has its own distinct personality and unmistakable charm.

Amish Country is famous for its wide variety of skilled artisans. In fact, the area has gained a reputation as one of the finest places to shop in the Midwest. Furniture crafting is one of the most widely acclaimed arts in Amish Country.

Hundreds of farmhouses dot the countryside and many of them have signs outside, indicating that you are free to stop there and purchase what it is they may be selling.

You’ll pass houses and cottage industries selling quilts and quilting frames, popcorn, peanut brittle, plants, crafts, oak furniture, baked goods, jam, relish, strawberries, kitchen cabinets, nuts, egg noodles, honey, rabbits, antiques, and brown eggs.

One of the first things you think of when someone says Amish Country is food. Throughout Amish Country, you’ll find bakeries and restaurants that not only serve this wonderful food but also offer items for sale.

Why, you can almost smell the aroma of one-of-a-kind caramel cinnamon doughnuts at Rise ‘n Roll Bakery and Deli. There are sample boxes throughout the store, so you can try the doughnuts, chocolate cookies, caramel rolls, spreads, and just about everything else!

Another specialty food shop that’s particularly tasty is Guggisberg Deutsch Kase Haus, the Cheese House. Located between Middlebury and Shipshewana on County Road 16, this shop offers homemade cheeses, including Colby, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, and Pepper Jack. In the mornings you can watch as the cheese is made.

Amish fabric store © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Amish fabric store © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quilting is another craft associated with Amish Country—and rightly so. Beautiful quilt shops can be found throughout the area as skilled quilters patiently create hand-sewn quilts destined to become heirlooms.

Heritage Trail

Driving Amish Country’s 90-mile Heritage Trail takes you on a winding loop along rural highways, down quiet country lanes, through friendly cities and small-town Main Streets.

The Heritage Trail will take you through the towns of Goshen, Elkhart, Bristol, Middlebury, Wakarusa, and Nappanee. You’ll wind through the heart of the Amish communities, passing fast-trotting horses pulling black buggies and Amish children riding bicycles home from school. If you’re wondering which farms and homes are Amish-owned, just look to see whether there are electrical lines running to the farmstead.

A free audio tour DC packed with fun facts leads you to can’t-miss attractions and local gems like Shipshewana’s Davis Mercantile, Elkhart’s historic Lerner Theatre, or tasty finds like the jumbo jelly beans at the Wakarusa dime Store.

Free DCs and maps at the LaGrange County Visitor Center, the Elkhart County Visitor Center, or download both at AmishCountry.org

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

A wooden spoon compels even the strangest of ingredients to get their acts together.
—Amish Proverb

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Get Outdoors and Go Camping…It’s Easy!

In support of “Great Outdoors Month,” the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA) is teaming up with Cabela’s in Hamburg, Pennnsylvania, to promote the camping lifestyle on June 10-11.

Pennsylvania has to offer in scenic beauty and camping. Pictured above is Lackawanna State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Get Outdoors and Go Camping…It’s Easy” is the theme that the association has chosen to use for its two-day promotion.

Members of the association will be on hand to greet the guests and give them a 2011 Campground Directory of privately owned parks, according to a recent PCOA news release.

The guests will be encouraged to check out the RVs and tents supplied by Maiden Creek Marine and RV in Berks County.

They will experience what camping is really like by making mini-s’mores around the campfire and singing a few campfire songs. Coloring books will be given to the children and there will be photo opportunities.

Expert outfitters from Cabela’s will be demonstrating the newest camping products available and helping campers gear up for their next trip.

“Camping is not only the most affordable vacation around, it also is fun and memorable. In Pennsylvania you have over 230 campgrounds to choose from to make that memory,” said Beverly Gruber, PCOA executive director.

“Time spent camping or RVing allows you to slow down and gives you the flexibility to pursue what you want and where you want to be. It gives you a chance to rediscover your family and lets you choose the activities your family enjoys. So stop in at Cabela’s and get acquainted with camping and RVing.”

This promotion ties in with the “Great Outdoors Month” in June, being promoted by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and proclaimed nationwide by President Obama and nearly every state governor in the United States.

Lancaster County is home to more than 16,000 Old Order Amish who farm the rolling hills. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping is a family activity which is a great memory-maker.

At this Cabela’s event, young families will be encouraged to go camping during the month of June.

A coupon is being issued from the Go Camping America website that gives a 20 percent discount on your campground stay. The downloadable coupons are valid only between June 1 and June 25 at participating parks, so when you make your reservations, ask if they’ll accept the GCA coupon.

About Pennsylvania

If you are thinking of new and interesting places for a fun camping trip this summer you may be surprised to see how much Pennsylvania has to offer.

Pennsylvania is a state rich in history and extraordinary natural beauty. Rolling hills, plateaus, ridges, valleys, rivers, lakes, and streams dot the countryside. Visitors will find an eclectic mix of architecture ranging from classic stone farmhouses and covered bridges to glass skyscrapers that form panoramic cityscapes.

Pennsylvania has seven distinct geographical regions: the Erie Lowland, the Appalachian or Allegheny Plateau, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, the Blue Ridge, the New England Upland, the Piedmont, and the Atlantic Coastal Plain.

Life in the slow lane... © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No trip to Pennsylvania would be complete without a visit to Lancaster County’s Amish area, located in the central region. While visiting the area you’ll soon realize there are no telephones, radio, or television. Instead, you’ll find fresh-baked pies, freshly picked produce, beautiful quilts, and hand-crafted furniture. The area is home to more than 16,000 Old Order Amish whose timetable is governed by the sun and the changing of the seasons. Many Amish continue to earn a living by farming, and Lancaster County is one of the nation’s top-producing, non-irrigated counties.

Details

Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA)

Go Camping America

Cabela’s

Cabela’s is a direct marketer and specialty retailer of hunting, fishing, camping, and related outdoor recreation merchandise, based in Sidney, Nebraska.

American Recreation Coalition (ARC)

Worth Pondering…
For me, forces of nature are the simple, subtle and powerful moments that can come together at any time. Even a raging river can be subtle and powerful all at once—and so can a root structure, its power invisible to the eye but recorded in its intricate patterns.

— Brandon Jakobeit

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