The rolling farmlands north of Pittsburgh, in Lawrence County, is Amish country—a place where almost 2,000 Old-Order Amish people make their home in the farms surrounding the quaint villages of New Wilmington and Volant. This settlement, the third largest Amish community in the United States, has long been a popular tourist destination where visitors hope to catch a glimpse of the Amish's peaceful, provincial lives.
The Amish community in Lawrence County is made up of 13 Amish schools and 14 church districts, and each district has an average of 75 adult members plus their children. Most of the Amish people in Lawrence County are agricultural or dairy farmers and can often be seen plowing their fields with horses or tending the cattle.
The Lawrence County Tourist Promotion Area offers a self-guided tour of the beautiful Amish countryside around Volant and New Wilmington, leading guests along the same roads that horse-drawn buggies travel down daily. Along with getting a chance to experience this unique lifestyle, visitors can also stop by the shops in Volant and New Wilmington or a variety of roadside stands to purchase some Amish goods to take home as souvenirs.
Visiting New Wilmington, Pennsylvania
Located five miles east of Route 60, New Wilmington was first established in 1797, built upon in 1824, and became a borough in 1863, though the Amish didn't settle in the area until around 1847.
The Tavern Inn, located in the heart of the village, was once part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, and Wilmington is currently home to Westminster College. Local Amish sights include the Amish Auction House, Schoolhouse, and Graveyard.
Several restaurants as well as many craft, antique, and specialty shops are located in New Wilmington, and you can even find an Isaly's Restaurant here, one of the last remaining in the country. Lodging can be found in several bed and breakfasts, or the area of the nearby Prime Outlets at Grove City. Hitching your horse and parking are both free here, too.
On top of visiting the Westminster College, which has one of the only copies of the 1999 "History of New Wilmington" book in the world, tourists may also immerse themselves in Amish activities like harvesting cow milk, churning butter, and learning how to make clothing.
Visiting Volant, Pennsylvania
The village of Volant was originally a small gristmill town that was incorporated in 1893. Located adjacent to New Wilmington, midway between Erie and Pittsburgh, Volant almost became a ghost town in the late 1970s due to the mill's closing but was revived and restored in the early 1980s by several businessmen.
Today, the main street in Volant is a place where Amish buggies co-mingle with automobiles. The gristmill is now a country, antique, and specialty shop, but plans have been announced to restore the historic Volant mill to working condition.
Other shops along Main Street offer Victorian collectibles, homemade arts and crafts, Christmas specialties, pottery, music-related items, and contemporary fashions. Volant is also home to many restaurants and other specialty stores such as rugs and carpeting.