By Kevin Williams
I had heard about the brown-topped buggies of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania for a long time and wasn't sure if I'd ever get to see them. The only place where you can find these butterscotch-brown buggies is near New Wilmington and a handful of Amish churches around Cuba Lake, New York. But when I was in Sharon, Pennsylvania on business I spied my first beautiful
New Wilmington brown buggy. I excitedly steered my car into the nearby countryside and saw more and more. As someone who has studied Amish culture for a long time, these brown buggies were very exciting. And beautiful. The brown that they use for the tops is what I can only describe as a "golden brown."
The funny - but not necessarily surprising - thing is that when I stopped and asked a few Amish people if they knew how the tradition of brown Amish buggies began here, most shrugged and said they did't know. If you went to Berne, Indiana and asked around about how the "topless buggy" tradition began there, you'd get the same shrug. The Amish are not known for self-examination and reflection in that way.
Finally, one Amish woman mused that the original buggy-makers a century ago in the community only had access to a certain color of canvas material for the buggy tops so they used what they had and the custom stuck. That to me is as good of explanation as any.
So, enjoy these beautiful brown buggies!