The New York Central was once the second-largest railroad in the United States, with 11,000 route miles of track in eleven states and two Canadian provinces. This railroad yard is the largest railroad freight classification yard east of the Mississippi River. Just as when the railroad first arrived in Elkhart in 1851, Elkhart functions as a vital link in the chain connecting the Atlantic Seaboard with the Midwest and beyond.
The Elkhart-Lagrange and Nappanee Amish communities have long been dependent on the local RV industry. Amish have worked in it for years, and RV factory work has traditionally been the majority occupation for heads of household in this area. I saw a documentary a while ago about how they are valued as very efficient, hard workers in this industry.
Unfortunately, due to the recession and the decline in motor home sale they have suffered. Many families have begun cottage industries in their homes with some degree of success. Currently the motorhome sale have been booming and the Amish are being rehired.
80% of motor homes manufactured in the USA are made in northern Indiana.
I found it interesting how the community had created ways to support the Amish life styles such as a lane on the highway for their buggies and hitching posts at just about every store.
We "camped" in the Walmart parking lot for two nights and I was impressed with the nice covered horse and buggy area that housed 12 buggies. On Saturday the place was very busy and the hitching posts were all occupied so they also used the cyclone fence to tie their horses up. Walmart also provided a water trough.
Walmart seems to be an acceptable social gathering place for Amish teenagers. We saw groups of girls go into the store and then meet up with boys and shop in the store as couples. On Saturday it seemed to be the hangout.
The Amish do not reject all things that are modern, but consider each item on its merits. They reject items such as electricity which they feel does not support their idea of community. They use propane, ride bikes, jump on trampolines and we saw a solar unit on a well pump. They do not own cars, but will take a ride in a car and hire one when needed. Car ownership does not fit into their ideal of humility.
The Amish hold humility as a highly-cherished value and view pride as a threat to community harmony. Because items such as personal photographs can accentuate individuality and call attention to one's self, they are prohibited from the home. Moreover, the Amish believe that photographs in which they can be recognized violate the Biblical commandment, "Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image." They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they left, not by physical appearance.
I felt that I could respect their beliefs and it was OK to photograph them from the privacy of our camper since they could not be recognized from this distance and the photos would not be a threat to their community.