Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Wisconsin: Sharing the highway with the Amish November 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IN THE PAST THREE YEARS, I’ve traveled through the heart of central Wisconsin often enough to know where I might see the Amish.

An Amish farm in central Wisconsin, photographed on Friday, October 11, 2013.

An Amish farm in central Wisconsin, photographed on Friday, October 11, 2013. Notice the buggy parked by the red shed.

Between Coloma and Wautoma is a prime location for spotting Amish farms and maybe even a buggy, especially on a Sunday, the day these folks gather to worship in homes.

An Amish man traveling Wisconsin State Highway 21 on Friday, October 11, 2013.

An Amish man traveling Wisconsin State Highway 21 on Friday, October 11, 2013.

On our most recent trip to Wisconsin, my husband and I, for the first time, encountered an Amish man guiding a horse-pulled wagon along the shoulder of Wisconsin State Highway 21 by the Mecan River Fishery Area.

A close-up taken while passing by the Amish man.

Passing by the Amish man.

Truthfully, I felt nervous watching him journey along this busy stretch of highway heavy with semi truck and other traffic.

I could only hope drivers would see him and that his horses wouldn’t spook.

How about you? Have you ever encountered Amish along a roadway and worried about their safety?

FYI: To learn more about the Amish in Wisconsin, click here to reach the Amish America website.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “In Wisconsin: Sharing the highway with the Amish”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    We were following a one-horse Amish buggy, a man, his boy and little girl with him. One of the reins broke just as another car zoomed past the horse. The horse spooked, we slowed way down to give the driver room and he finally got it slowed almost down to a walk, but still dancing a bit. The driver gave the other rein to his son and prepared to jump down to grab the halter. The man jumped and the horse just took off. We picked him up, and he asked if we could get in front of it and try to control it by gradually slowing down. The boy was incredibly good with just the one rein, by the way, and again got the horse slowed down and told his little sister to jump. That meant we had to stop and pick her up before we could get in front again. The man was frantic to get the horse back under control as we were eastbound from Shipshewana to Lagrange and getting close to town traffic. My DH started blowing the horn as we came to the ‘big intersection.’ Luckily there were competent horsemen all around and a young Amish fellow just stepped off the curb, grabbed for the bridle, and swung on the horse’s head until it stopped – just at the line for the traffic light. Neighbors took the horse to a nearby hostelry (an inn for horses) and we took the family to the doctor and waited with them while the little girl was seen by the doctor and then took them back home, about 5 miles back the way we had come from. We were given cups of tea and cookies by the man’s wife, got to meet a fair number of the children (I think they had 13 children). Incredibly, at Christmas time we received a (rather garish Santa-featuring) Christmas card with a lovingly worded thank you for our help in that event. He sold the rogue horse by the way!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, my goodness, Marilyn, that is quite the story. I was nervous just reading it, worrying that something tragic may have happened. Wow. Thank God you and DH were there to assist. I cannot imagine the terror that father felt. How wonderful that you were invited into their home. I’m certain they were beyond grateful.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I certainly do not have stories to rival Marilyn’s!!! Goodness. Always aware of them when we are traveling in Ohio and Indiana and even Pennsylvania. I try to be respectful and give them the room that they need on the road but it has to be scary for them with cars zooming all around.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, I cannot imagine taking a horse and wagon/buggy onto a busy highway. Wisconsin Highway 21 is definitely busy. Miranda encountered an Amish buggy on Hwy 21 at night once. She found that especially unnerving.

  3. Carolyn Says:

    Many years ago we were travelling through western Wisconsin/southeastern MN during the spring when we spotted several Amish farmers planting their fields with the help of horse-pulled plows. I’d never realized before that the humans were on foot and working so hard to wrestle the power of their horses.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      When I see scenes such as you describe, I am always reminded of how hard our forefathers worked to settle this land.

  4. Great Captures! My dad had an accident with his truck (me and my brother were in the vehicle) with a rider and horse (the horse was young and inexperienced and spooked), so due to that experience I am overly cautious when it comes to anything on the side of the road; emergency vehicles, bicyclists, walkers, tame and wild animals, etc. Great Reminder to not drive distracted and to pay attention to the WHOLE ROAD!!! Happy Tuesday:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That must have been incredibly frightening and, obviously, made a major impression upon you. Deer dashing from ditches are a major concern this time of year in Minnesota.

    • It was and lives with you for a lifetime too. We have been having deer and bear with car accidents here. The hunters are flushing out the deer and then the storms have animals misplaced at times too.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        OK, I’m assuming the accident was a serious one. I am sorry your family had to go through that. A bear-vehicle collision does not sound good at all.

  5. Jackie Says:

    Yes I have encountered the Amish a number of times down in the Mabel/Canton area, It is kind of nerve racking to see them so close to the road with traffic just zooming by. I guess the horses must be used to it, they dont seem to mind 🙂 I love the top photo, I see it was a great day for drying clothes

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      And, oh, how I love laundry hung on the line. I never trust horses along a busy roadway, no matter how often they’ve traveled the route. Just best to err on the side of caution, as you do, I’m sure.

  6. hotlyspiced Says:

    We don’t have any Amish in Australia. I didn’t know there were any in Wisconsin. I thought they were all in Pennsylvania. I read recently that they don’t immunise their children and it is interesting that they don’t have any cases of autism in their community! xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Amish live in many places besides Pennsylvania, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota and likely other parts of the U.S. of which I am unaware. I can’t speak to the immunization issue.

    • Marilyn Says:

      Actually, there is an Amish family in northern NSW. They came here for the ‘economic opportunity’ and have a thriving roadside tourist stop. A web search also says they are in Gympie and Tassie, too.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Yes, I think we “tourists” do provide some good economic opportunities for the Amish.

  7. treadlemusic Says:

    Needless to say, I/we have! and on motorcycles…..Harleys!!! That’s why DH and I, generally, avoid the weekends and ride on weekdays….especially Mondays when washing and fieldwork is being done and there are way fewer buggies on the roads. Saturdays are the worst……..shopping and the young ones are allowed to visit friends. They aren’t as adept at handling the horses.

  8. I’ve never seen any Amish people – I have never been in the right parts of MN, WI, or PA!

  9. […] SHARING THE ROAD IN WISCONSIN:  The Badger State’s Amish population has been steadily increasing over the past few years. A blog posted a few really neat, picturesque pictures (is that redundant?) from Central Wisconsin. Click here to enjoy. […]

  10. s. Kuckuk Says:

    first of all….. all the barns in your photos other than the one with the buggy are not on Amish farms and are on the way to Oshkosh..second..it’s people like you slowing down on a 55 mph road to gawk at Amish and take photos… very disrespectful who cause accidents…how would you like someone putting a camera in your face while your trying to work ? They don’t do photos and anyone who knows anything about the Amish knows that…go blog about something you actually know about…

    • One farm site, an Amish one, is showcased in this post. Yes, it is along the highway which eventually leads to Oshkosh. You are correct and I am correct in stating the location where these pix were shot.

      My husband did not slow our van down so I could photograph this Amish man. That is not something I do as a photographer along a busy highway. My camera was set at a fast enough shutter speed to take this photo while passing by, without slowing down. So please do not assume that I was endangering this man or other motorists in any way.

      I’m aware that the Amish do not welcome photos.

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