The large Amish settlements of Napanee and Elkhardt-La Grange are less an hour’s drive apart and situated right in the heartland of America’s RV industry.
Their unique lifestyle certainly sets them apart from other Americans in this part of Indiana.
- The Amish forego modern amenities such as electricity, automobiles and telephones.
- They don’t pose for photos or own cameras and formal education ends at Grade 8.
- Men begin apprenticeships in woodworking or other skills after formal education and women focus on home making skills.
- Their distinctive style of dress makes them easy to identify as men’s trousers use buttons rather than zippers. Amish women sew their clothes from solid-color fabric, often in shades of blue and wear white bonnets.
- Men can grow beards but not mustaches and only married Amish women wear aprons.
So how did this ultra conservative, farming based community end up building most of America’s RV’s ?
Until the 1980’s they relied almost exclusively on farming to meet their economic needs, but as their population grew and the available farm land to purchase shrank, they had to venture out into the modern world to find ways to support their large families.
Ironically they are forbidden from driving RV’s but not from making them. So now year-round, Amish men go into work around 4:00 or 5:00 am. riding into town on a bike or in a buggy, and working until they complete their day’s quota of RV’s at the factory. They will use a battery powered tool at work , but nothing that plugs in like a conveyor belt or power tool.
This clash of cultures may ultimately change the nature of the Amish communities, as the men working in the factories are exposed to power tools and other electronic “gadgets” to meet the speed required for assembling RV’s .
To date however, they still adhere to their basic beliefs and you if you travel to this part of Indiana you will often be sharing the road with the Amish and their buggies as they head into work for the day.