Saturday, August 1, 2009

Iowa's Amish Country

We didn't realize it until we arrived in Oelwein, but there is a bustling Amish community in the nearby town of Hazleton. Hazleton lies south of our campground and only 1 mile away. We thought we'd take the car and drive through the area looking at their farms and their community. The main town center is along Hwy. 150 and it isn't much to look at, truthfully. Mostly a few run down buildings along with business concerns trying to stay alive during these hard times. But when we ventured a block or two to the west of the downtown area, we found what we were searching for.

Since I first discovered the Amish people around Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1980, I've been intrigued by their lifestyle. You can watch the movie Witness, with Harrison Ford, and get a bit of an idea on how the Amish live, but I think there is more to their way of life than depicted in that film.

I know of large Amish communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and now Iowa. I'm sure there are more areas with these "plain folks", but I haven't seen them. This photo was taken on Grant Avenue, which is the usual dirt and gravel road found in these parts. Check out those beautiful clouds in the sky. It was always like that while we stayed in Oelwein.
In downtown Oelwein, we saw this Amish family leaving the Fareway grocery market. There are hitching posts in the parking lot for them to tie up their horses while they shop. I'm not sure whose job it is to scoop up all of that horse manure. Maybe the bag-boy from the market.
Again, down in Hazleton we saw this farmer go whizzing by in his black Amish buggy. They are all like the original Model T Ford....only come in black.
At this farm, the farmer had made neat rows of haystacks. The field was full of them. Must have been hundreds, but we didn't stop to count.
Here is a typical Amish farm from what appears to be a more prosperous farmer. I thought this was a great photo with the windmill at the back of the farmhouse. Again...check out those clouds.

Over on 130th Street, we stopped to take another farm photo. You can see the buggy hitched up by the barn.
Since the Amish only travel by horse-drawn buggy, a lot of the farms we passed had the most beautiful horses grazing in the pastures.

There were many farms that had beautiful flower gardens as well as kitchen gardens you could see from the road. Again, this farm appeared to be one of the more prosperous ones.

It was wash day today. Many of the Amish use washing machines powered by gasoline engines. Amish homes do not connect with public utilities in order to lead a more "simple life". There is no electricity to run a washing machine. The laundry then gets hung out on the lines to dry in the wind.

On the corner of Amish Blvd. and 120th Street we saw several cars and buggies parked in a parking lot. A sign said something about farm produce for sale. We thought it might be like a Farmer's Market so we parked and went inside. It was actually an Auction House. People were there, Amish and English (as they are called), bidding on produce and other farm goods. Interesting, but we didn't have a clue as to how to enter the bidding process....nor did we want to. We watched for a few minutes and quietly left. The photo below shows some of the buggies parked at the Auction House.

The Auction House is in the background and a very impatient horse is waiting with his buggy. He kept stamping his foot like he was restless and ready to go home.

This is a photo of one of the Amish schools in the community. They are all one-room schoolhouses and have outdoor plumbing.....another feature with the Amish. We counted at least 11 one-room schools is this community. All were painted white just like the farmhouses.

Here is another school with the outhouse toward the left of the photo. I guess that can be a pretty cold place to go out to when those bitter, freezing Iowa winters come along. Brrrrrrr.

As we were leaving the town of Hazleton, we followed this buggy down the road. We enjoyed the little side trip to see this fascinating town with these interesting people. I think they would be interesting to have a conversation with and I wish I could have been able to do that.

Next stop will be the town of Forest City, Iowa and the Winnebago factory. Check back in a few days...I'm sure I'll have something to report on that.
Until next long for now!


bedh59ahl said...

Very nice pictures; all true to what one sees at Hazelton. My husband and I have visited there a couple of times, mainly to buy items at one of the stores. We like to buy supplies for baking, rolled oats and dried fruits from their bulk supplies. Fun to visit the bakeries and many of the shops just to look around.

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