When I bring 5-pound bags of Wenger’s famous ham-loaf frozen from Pennsylvania to Florida, the plastic-coated tubs of meat are wrapped in newspaper and then shrink-wrapped in plastic. The wrapping on one of the packages revealed answers to the intriguing question: Who make Amish buggies?
Writer Jack Brubaker born in Bird-in-Hand, PA keeps Lancaster Countians informed about local culture, history, and humor in his syndicated column The Scribbler. In the Tuesday, October 1, 2013 edition of the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, Jack noted that a reader from Mount Joy, PA requested more details about Amish buggies. The reader had never seen a used buggy lot and wondered if the Amish recycle buggies. Also, he had been to Indiana recently and saw the Amish using buggies with slanted undercarriages that looked like an armored Humvee. Here are the main points of Jack The Scribbler’s response to his reader:
- “Jake King, the Amish operator of Weavertown Coach, along the Old Philadelphia Pike between Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse, says there are about 17 manufacturers of new Amish buggies in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,” including his company which has its own wheelwright shop.
- Buggy-making is a cooperative effort: Five or six shops make buggy bodies, known as “the box.” Other businesses make axles, springs and wheels. Still others assemble fiberglass floors and side panels.
- King says his various employees become good at one thing: “You have to be a good electrician, painter and upholstery trimmer.”
- What is the cost of a new buggy? “The average carriage for the ‘young guys’ sells for about $ 8000, with a more elaborate dashboard and better grade of upholstery than the ordinary type of buggy which ranges from $ 6000-6500.
- Buggy vs. car: Buggy resale is high. Buggies require a horse: $3000 for the animal plus harness and feed. But, King notes, “they also don’t drink $ 4-per-gallon gasoline.”
The different colors and design reflect the owner’s community: Gray (PA), Black (Ohio and Indiana), Yellow (Byler Old Order Amish in Big Valley, Mifflin County, PA), White (Ohio), Brown (New Wilmington, PA and New York). Honestly, this surprised me as I think I’ve only ever seen black or dark gray buggies.
Like most Mennonites, Amish are thrifty, so of course they recycle their buggies, either through private sales or at spring “mud sales.”
Are there Amish buggies in your community?
What new fact, opinion, or question can you add to the discussion?