LAWRENCE CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Many people are fascinated with the Amish, wanting to buy their products or see how they live. If you’re one of those people, there’s a way to learn more about the Amish of Lawrence County through a simple tour.
When Susan Hougelman and her husband owned The Tavern on the Square restaurant in New Wilmington, patrons often asked how they could see the Amish. One day, five years ago, Susan said, “Come on, I’ll show you,” and that’s when Simple Life Amish Tours was born.
Over those five years, Hougelman has led around 3,000 tours.
“It’s been a quilt shop and open to the public for at least 25 years,” she said.
Say you’re on a tour of Lawrence County’s Amish Country with Hougelman. You might begin at Byler’s Quilt Shop on Route 208 between New Wilmington and Volant.
“That’s one of the things Amish women are most famous for, is their quilt making,” Hougelman said.
Watching traffic maneuver around Amish buggies is commonplace in New Wilmington. Around 2,600 Amish live in the simple white houses that surround the borough, making it the 12th largest Amish community in the country.
Many people are facinated with their culture, which is why Hougelman started her tours.
“The Amish have loved what I do because I brought a little bit of prosperity and helped grow this community,” she said.
The Amish are broken up into 19 districts in New Wilmington.
As you drive through the Amish Country in a 15 person van, Hougelman will explain their culture.
The Amish of Lawrence County are considered strict Amish. Their dress is simple, there’s no electricty in their homes and while they can ride in motorized vehicles, they cannot own or drive them.
Your tour might then take you up a dirt road to Anna’s Baked Goods, where on the front porch, you’ll see Amish women frying up donuts. They also make homemade jams, cakes and cookies with filling, what the Amish call “whoopie pies.”
Hougelman has two rules on her tours: don’t ask the Amish personal questions and no pictures of their faces.
She says they don’t mind if you take pictures of their buggies or the laundry hanging on the line though, saying they’ve become very used to that.
“People come from all over the state to shop at this greenhouse,” Hougelman said.
Your final stop might be to Pine Hills Greenhouse, owned by Andy and Anna Byler, who are Amish, where all the plants are locally grown.
Throughout the tour, you might have a chance to meet the Amish, shake their hands and talk with them.
“They actually love people coming to their little shops and businesses. They’re very, very friendly and welcoming and I think that’s probably the number one thing people are surprised at truly, just how friendly and welcoming they are,” Hougelman said.
The cost of a Simple Life Amish tour is $100 for four people for two hours. It then increases for additional people and additional hours. People can take a large tour bus for larger groups or a small SUV for smaller groups.