Our Trip to Amish Country
Our family recently took a weekend trip to visit the Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee. The Amish in Ethridge are Swartzentruber Amish, which are among the most conservative of Amish groups. They do not have electricity or indoor plumbing in their homes, and they travel by horse and buggy.
Heritage Campground & RV Park
While in Ethridge we stayed in a cabin at the Heritage Campground. This cute little two bedroom cabin was only $45* per night. The cabin was equipped with a dorm sized refrigerator, air conditioning, and heat. Campers must bring their own bed linens and towels. The cabins don’t have bathrooms, but the bathhouse was very close. The bathhouse was clean and well maintained. The porch of the campground’s main building had a small children’s play area with swings. There were also bicycles and tricycles for campers to use.
Amish Welcome Center & Museum
The Amish Welcome Center, located in front of the campground offers wagon tours and museum tours. We opted for The Ultimate Amish Experience which included both the guided museum tour and horse-drawn wagon ride. The cost was $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children under 6.*
First, we toured the museum. The museum is an authentic Amish farmhouse built in 1944. It was the first Amish farm in the area. When Ethridge incorporated the property into its city limits, the family living there had to sell and move further into the countryside, as the city requires indoor plumbing. The Amish Welcome Center purchased the farm, restored the home, and turned into a museum.
The Amish man who built this house is still living and in his 80’s. He and his wife had 12 children. At last count, they had 160-something grandchildren and 260-something great-grandchildren. I asked our tour guide how the family feels about the home being made into a museum. He said that they love it. They are glad the home wasn’t torn down. He also said that when the Amish have family visit from out of town, they like to bring them to the museum.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. As he took us through every room of the house, he explained how the Amish live and how various items in the house are used. He was able to provide answers to everyone’s many questions. After the guided tour of the farmhouse, we explored the rest of the property on our own. There was a harness shop, buggies, several animals, and a replica of an Amish schoolhouse.
After the museum, we went on a horse-drawn wagon ride through the Amish area. While the ride was advertised as being about an hour and a half long, ours ended up being a little over two hours. Our guide was friendly and obviously very well-acquainted with many of the Amish families in the area. We stopped at six different Amish farms. Each farm had items, such as jellies, pickles, and baked goods available to purchase. At a couple of the farms, we were also allowed to walk through their workshops. I especially loved the furniture shop. I was surprised at how inexpensive their prices were for such beautiful, well-made items.
Photographs are against the Amish religion, so this picture of the wagon we rode on is the only one I have from our ride.
Later, we rode through the Amish area a little more in our car. We went a lot further out into the countryside than the wagon tour goes. It was like going back in time. Horse-drawn buggies were traveling the roads. We saw many farmers on horse-drawn plows and children riding atop a hay wagon. I did snap a couple of pictures while being careful not to photograph any Amish people.
Little one-room schoolhouses like this one were everywhere. Each one has about 20 to 30 students in grades 1st through 8th. Amish end their formal education after 8th grade.
Other Area Attractions
While it may not seem like there would be much going on in such a rural area, there are plenty of other things to see and do in the towns surrounding Ethridge. We visited the James K. Polk Home in Columbia, Tennessee. It is the only surviving residence of our nation’s 11th President.
We also spent some time at the David Crocket State Park in nearby Lawrenceburg, TN. The park features nature trails, playgrounds, a museum, and bird aviary. Tennessee state parks don’t charge any admission for day visitors! This park also offers RV and tent campsites, as well as, cabins. I would consider camping there during future visits to the area.
Also, Nashville is only about an hour and a half north of Ethridge. There’s no shortage of things to do there!
We can’t wait to visit Ethridge again!
We definitely plan to visit Ethridge again in the future. If you’re in or near Middle Tennessee and looking for a day or weekend trip that’s a little off the beaten path, you don’t want to miss Ethridge. Not only is visiting the Amish community an opportunity to learn about another culture, but it also gives you the opportunity to see in person how people lived long ago. Of course, you could read about the past or even visit an early American museum, but neither of those compares to seeing people up-close who still live without modern technology and conveniences.
* All prices and other information in this blog were current as of March 2019, but please be aware that prices and offerings are subject to change.
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