The Amish Buggy
Preservation of Social and Community Values
The Amish buggy is a common sight along the country roads of Lancaster County.
allows the Amish people to ride in automobiles, as well as buses and trains, they are forbidden to own one. In fact, of all the worldly possessions available, the car is considered the most dangerous to the unity of the community and the purity of the culture.
It is believed that car ownership would lead to the breakdown of the Amish community by opening the floodgates of social and cultural change.
Instead, the Amish use horse-drawn carriages or wagons for local transportation. These horse and buggies tend to travel at an average speed of 5 to 8 miles per hours. Since the Amish rarely travel very far distances, this leisurely speed is not a problem.
In fact, because the horse and buggy is so limited compared to the automobile, the people are more inclined to remain within the confines of their family and community, rather than outside of it.
Design and Varieties of Amish Buggy
The bodies of the carriages are currently made out of fiberglass rather than wood which was used during previous generations. The Amish buggies are crafted by local carriage makers and come in different styles depending upon the clan of the riders or the use of the transportation.
For instance, the top of the carriages come in different colors. Although the most common color of the carriage top is gray, other colors are frequently used to indicate various clans within the community.
Likewise, a special wagon needs to be used when transporting goods and produce to the market. Such a buggy is enclosed with a hatchback opening which provides for more space and easier loading and unloading.
| An Example of an Amish Market Wagon used to carry goods and produce to and from the market|
Another type of Amish buggy is that used by the family when traveling to visit other member of the family or community on social visits. Such vehicles is similar to the market buggy but, instead of a hatchback opening, there is a window in back that protects the occupants while providing visibility.
| An Example of a Typical Family Wagon used by the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania|
Usually the family wagons can seat 5 to 6 riders comfortably. Some but not all of the carriages have sliding doors and windows that can open or close. Others, don't have a door and have windows that can't be opened.
| An Example of a an Amish Carriage also known as a Courting Buggy Since it Normally Seats Up to Two Passengers Only|
Another type of Amish horse and buggy is the courting buggy. This is an open carriage that has a single seat for two riders. Since they are open carriages, there is very little privacy in these wagons.
For safety, Amish buggies are equipped with battery-operated lights and turn signals. They are required to a display a symbol of the triangle in the rear to indicate they are a slow-moving vehicle. Flashing lights must be used for night driving.
A Special Reminder
When driving through Lancaster County, you will come across horse and buggies along the country roads and highways. Please make special allowances.
If you find yourself behind one of these slow-moving vehicles, it is very rude to honk your horn. Also, many of the lanes are quite narrow so trying to pass onto a lane of opposing traffic will only endanger both your family and others.
Just heed some common sense and patience, and enjoy the scenery.
To learn more about the Amish people of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania:
Back to an Introduction to the Amish People of Lancaster County
Return to Welcome To Lancaster County Home Page from learning about the Amish Buggy