Visit Pennsylvania Dutch Covered Bridge Country - Simple Experiences and Heritage Seeds
1) A Separate Peace
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is the long-time home to groups of people that together comprise the Plain People. These groups are the Old Order Amish, the Mennonites, and the Brethren.
All of these Christian groups separate themselves from the rat race of the commercial world to a greater or lesser degree. This fact provides a foundation for peace and tranquility for those that visit Lancaster County in wishes of escaping frenetic city life or information overload. It is also a pleasant environment for people that appreciate a green lifestyle and community and community building, for all this is overarching in all of these groups.
While these groups maintain separateness and privacy, vacation lodgings are available at a number of related communities (see the links below).
At least one working Amish farm is available in Lancaster County for inexpensive tours. It is a must-see if you are traveling to Lancaster County. It includes a farm and farmhouse from 1805, along with animals, a one room school, and a blacksmith, and a wood carver. The large farm was built under a land grant from William Penn in the early 1700s and has always been inhabited by Amish families until it became a local educational and travel attraction. Staff operating the facilities have all lived in Lancaster Country and usually been raised around the Amish.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
The Working Amish Farm
- The Amish Farm and House
This is the United State's first Amish attraction, opened in 1955 in direct response to the growing demand for correct information about the Old Order Amish lifestyle. Near Lancaster PA.
- Lodging Accommodations On Working Farms in Lancaster County PA
Enjoy cozy lodging accommodations on working farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with helpful lodging and travel information from the Lancaster County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the official tourism website for Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
2) Strasburg Railroad Museum and Strasburg Railroad
Any fan of railroads and trains will love this adventure that surrounds a railroad founded back in 1832. After WWII, the transport of freight declined and a group of business people gathered together to save the railroad, making it a historic institution as well as fun.
The current railroad station complex commemorates heritage trains and history as it opened in 1958. It has delighted visitors ever since, whether families or singles. Currently, the museum and railroad operate some of the only locomotives of their types in the USA. Heritage locomotives from Canada and US railways are on display, but Strasburg Railroad operates others on the tracks.
Visitors can enjoy lunch or dinner aboard a dining tour train while viewing Amish country. In addition, Strasburg offers a popular Wine and Cheese Train, a Victorian Tea Train, and a 1/4 size train ride. A military commemoration happens in November and a Christmas Train is available in December.
The complex features a well stocked book and hobby store for railroad enthusiasts as well as a cafe. Across the street is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
The railroad and Museum strive to support the Amish community and preserve farmlands in the area as well.
Strasburg Railroad Museum
- Strasburg Rail Road - Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway, a full day packed with activities or just about an hour's worth of wholesome fun, the Strasburg Rail Road has your ticket. Two adults and two children can ride aboard one of our beautifully restored, Vict
Bridges Of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is recognized by many travel enthusiasts as the birthplace of covered bridge, with 1,500 of them built between 1820 - 1900.
3) Covered Bridges
There are at least 30 covered bridges in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and many of them are available by a 5-mile Horse and Buggy Tour that you and your friends or family will enjoy (see link to right). For that period of time, you can enjoy nature and a more slowly paced trip through the covered bridges that have been a tradition in this part of the country for generations.
Many of these bridges date form the 19th Century and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
4) The Amish Experience at Plain & Fancy Farm
Plain & Fancy Farm celebrated its 50th birthday in 2009.
The Plain & Fancy Farm has been serving interested visitors since 1959, when its public dining room was first set up in the barn and folks loved it. Now, people from all over the world come to Plan & Fancy for good food and experiences. This includes the Amish Country Homestead and a multimedia F/X Theater (that’s some of the fancy part).
The Amish Experience at Plain & Fancy is relaxing and refreshing, but it is moving. It is also inexpensive. Do go if you ever have the chance; you will not be disappointed.
A fictional family lives in the Homestead and you can see their clothing and furnishings and experience some of what their daily life was all about. It is all very different from the commercial world of “The English” (outsiders) – even the air and the aromas in it are different.
A guided tour is very interesting and a film in the F/X Theater, the 3rd exponential theater ever opened in the US, is presented. Jacob’s Choice, presented all around the viewer, is the story of how an Old Order Amish family copes with modern society and its own 400-year-old traditions and culture.
- The Amish Experience
Oldest Amish settlement in the world. Bus Tours. F/X Theater and the film "Jacob's Choice", about the Old Order Amish facing the challenges of modern life.
Plain and Fancy
5) Ephrata Community Historic Landmark
The Ephrata Community is also known as the Ephrata Cloister, because they cloistered or separated themselves from the rest of the world, especially from hectic industrial development. Their historic site is a peaceful place for a visit during a vacation or other travel, promoting the simpler life.
The Ephratans wanted freedom to await the return of the Lord and worship in the meantime without distraction and so they lives in this community. They also adopted celibacy and self discipline to avoid distractions, as well as what we consider a green lifestyle.
It was a religious community with a monastery that was begun in 1732 by Johann Beissel at Ephrata PA in what is now Lancaster County. The group also held to Saturday or Seventh Day sabbath, and apparently full immersion baptism, and were persecuted for this notion among some of their German Baptist Brethren and other denominations. Families were allowed to join the community and they lived in a separate part of the settlement until celibacy was discarded as a requirement around 1813 or 1814.
Fans of Star Trek® will think the group to have been much like Klingons, because the Cloister slept on hard wooden benches and pillows as a discipline. They also woke in the middle of the night to be on watch for the return of the Lord, not indulging in uninterrupted sleep. Ephrata became well known for its beautiful calligraphy and a Capella music as well.
Changes and splits occurred within Brethren groups throughout the years until the Ephratans’ faith was incorporated with others as the German Seventh Day Baptist Church. Some of these congregations still exist today. The Ephratans donated their land and buildings in 1941 to become a US National Historic Landmark.
- Ephrata Cloister, 632 West Main Street, Ephrata, PA 17522
Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata, PA
© 2009 Patty Inglish
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