Southeast Ohio is not known for having a large Amish population. In fact, when I first began studying Amish culture some 30 years ago, I think there were only a handful of families in southeast Ohio. But over the past 20 years, the population of Amish in Ohio's Appalachia has been growing in fits and starts. The rocky soil and hard rolling hills in places like Meigs County just don't make it the easiest place in the world to plant roots, literally and figuratively.
Meigs County, Ohio is not known for its Amish population. But there is a small Amish presence there. And as soon as I crossed the county line I was greeted with the telltale Department of Transportation yellow and black “horse and buggy “signs. I probably spent an hour exploring the rural roads of northern Meigs County looking for Amish homes, and I came up empty-handed. Usually, I look for “horse apples “left on the road. Or I’ll look for a telltale sign directing me to fresh produce or cabinet making or chainsaw sharpening, but I found nothing. Didn’t see a single buggy on the road. No sign of the Meigts County Amish.
I did, however, feel as if I had stepped back into time… Kind of cliché to say say, but when I found myself in the Crossroads town of Harrison Ville, Ohio, it just looks like a page ripped out of the 1950s. There was a classic old gas station at the corner. Except, it looks like the pumps were long gone. And it looked closed. Although there were some sort of sign on the door that made it seem like the store was occasionally open. And there was a beautiful, soaring church with a bright red roof. Here are some scenes from my attempt to find the Meigs County Amish:
This road side warns motorists of Amish buggies on Vance Road, but I saw no evidence of any in the area. I do know that the Amish population here is small and it's possible they'v moved out altogether. Not sure. But note the beautiful hills in the background, the hills are both a blessing and curse to those that live in the area. Makes it tough for Amish to farm here, but the rural isolation is attractive.
I saw this beautiful church with the bright red roof in the crossroads town of Harrisonville. Sorry for the power lines in the picture, I really need to brush up on my use of photoshop, because I could photoshop those right out.
A better view of the church without the pesky powerlines. Turns out it is a Presbyterian church, which is why I usually attend in my hometown.
I've heard of this type of thing before and it's very touching. First time I have seen one, though. This is modeled after a "Little Free Library", but it offers food. In need? Help yourself. Hopefully only people who are truly in need use it.
This is what made me feel like I had stumbled into the 1950s. But where are the pumps? I mean, this building looks pretty well kept. It was closed when I was here, but is it always? I guess that's a mystery, but I couldn't find any gas pumps.
So, I decided to cut short my Amish exploration and head back west where I know I'd find some Plain communities. Stay tuned in the coming days for more!