by Eva Potter
Longing to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Then take a relaxing drive into another era on the Amish Trail in the Conewango Valley.
Visit a community of 1,500 Old Order Amish that inhabits a 25-mile stretch between Randolph and Gowanda. These “plain” people have always shunned modern conveniences like electricity, phones, cars and other modern gadgets, preferring to stick to their tradition of living simple, conservative lives based on family, community, faith and hard work. You won’t find any power lines to these houses!
On your scenic driving adventure, you’ll discover Amish farmsteads dotting the countryside, horse-drawn Amish buggies ferrying passengers to church, freshly hung laundry billowing on the line and horses tilling fertile fields.
The Amish have a well-known reputation as exceptional artisans. Look for signs in front of farms indicating they are open and their specialty products. There are over 100 to visit! Shop for handmade quilts and rugs, solid-wood furniture, fresh-baked pies, baskets, toys, jams, cheeses and more.
Note that shops are closed on Sundays, some Wednesdays, certain holidays, and for barn raisings, weddings and funerals. The Amish are happy to do business with the “English,” as they call us, but don’t expect to pay with a check, credit or debit card – they only accept cash.
On your relaxing tour of the countryside, be sure to drive with extra caution and watch for the signature black buggies. These humble people ask not to be photographed as it goes against their beliefs, so please respect their privacy as well as their personal property.
As you explore the countryside, keep your eyes out for colorful Amish “barn quilts,” the newest addition to the Amish Trail. Of course, they’re not real fabric quilts but are block quilt patterns painted on large boards that you will see hung from houses, barns and businesses. Their locations and a brief history of each are noted on the free Amish Trail map (see information below).
Want a tour with “inside” information? Then book a customized tour through the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation at (716) 358-9701, ext. 208, or make a reservation with the Leon Historical Society Museum. Contact Pat Bromley, town historian at (716) 296-5709 for more information.
As you feel your pulse slow and your worries melt away, don’t hurry back to mainstream life. Stay for the weekend at the Amish Cottage Bed & Breakfast, originally a cottage that once housed Amish couples and their babies. Enjoy a luxurious overnight stay at Cherry Creek Inn complete with tasty sweets made by Amish bakers. Or head back to Ellicottville to relax in one of many cozy, welcoming bed & breakfast establishments like the Ilex Inn.
Make an adventure out of finding the products you’d like to see and purchase. Get an online map at www.amishtrail.com, download GPS Points of Interest from www.enchantedmountains.com for addresses of Amish shops and other sights around the county or call 1-800-331-0543 for a FREE Amish Trail map. Brochures and maps are also available at Amish shops, New York’s Amish Trail partners, tour companies, the Gowanda Area Chamber of Commerce and the Amish Trail Welcome Center in Randolph.