Indiana – The Amish and the RVs

As I write this, we are at the beginning of another thunderstorm.  The thunder is bellowing and the rain is pounding and I just saw the first of the lightning. This time we are in a campground with large trees. I’m not sure it is safer, but it feels safer than being totally exposed like we were in Wisconsin.

For this storm, we are in Indiana. We are near the communities of Shipshewana, Goshen and Elkhart. The Amish and the RV industry are prominent here.  We experienced aspects of both.

It is very common to see Amish horse drawn carriages along the county roads. The Amish believe the use of automobiles cause people to be away from home and family too often.  Automobiles speed up life and cause people to forget what is really important. Buggies keep people close to nature and to their communities.

We learned about that and much more at the Menno-Hof Museum. The main structures of the museum buildings were built in six days in a “barn raising” style by peoples of faith from all over the region. It took a year and a half to complete the inside.

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The museum has several multi media presentations about the anabaptist movement as part of the Reformation in the 1500s.  The anabaptists opposed the Roman Catholic  practice of infant baptism. Anabaptists believed baptism should be delayed until adulthood as a voluntary confession of faith.  That was just one of seven differences they cited between their tenants of faith and the Roman Catholic Church.

For two centuries the anabaptists were persecution by governments and the Catholic and Protestant churches. The believers spread throughout Europe hoping to find a place to practice their faith in peace. One group split off, became the Hutterites, and practiced communal ownership and communal living. Another group believed the anabaptist Mennonites were not strict enough in their practice and broke away to become the Amish.

Quaker William Penn invited peoples of persecuted faiths to settle and worship on his lands in the new world.  This area was known as Penn Sylvania, meaning “Penn’s woods.” From there the Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites expanded into this country.  Russian Mennonites brought a hardy winter wheat which established the American and Canadian wheat belts.

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We learned that all three groups of anabaptists still live out their faith in this area and around the country.  Hutterites still live communally and number 30,000.  The Mennonites are the largest group and, although they look and live similarly to other Christians, they still worship with the same anabaptist beliefs.   The Amish “live within firm boundaries they set for their lives.”  Almost all new Amish are born into the faith.  It was one of the finest museums we’ve been to and two hours went by quickly.

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On the RV side, we went to a few of the many RV surplus stores in the area. We were looking for a new loveseat but didn’t find one we liked. Too bad we weren’t looking for one of the millions of parts that were available!

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We saw how thousands of those parts are put together at our Montana Factory Tour, where our 2012 Montana was born. Randy has been frustrated at times with how our trailer was built so we were not expecting to be impressed.

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The frames are custom made for Montana fifth wheels.

 

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It was interesting to see the order that various components went into the trailers.

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Of course, many pieces are pre-made prior to assembly.

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We were able to walk into of some of the trailers in various stages of construction. The crew was gone because it was a hot day and the facility is not air conditioned.  They had worked from 4:00 am to noon.

The last few trailers on the line had red ribbon pieces on them.  Because women seem to have the better eye for this task, they compose the team that finds the defects and blemishes to be fixed before a trailer is considered complete.   Most times we could not see the defect the ribbon was identifying.

Eighteen Montana Fifth Wheels, of various floor plans, are completed at this site each day.  Each trailer takes a day and a half to assemble.

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Our tour guide told us about one of their upcoming “improvements.”  These stairs fold up as one piece and latch in the doorway.  I was able to raise and lower the stairs but see them as an accident waiting to happen.  Randy and another engineer pretty much picked apart the idea and our guide seemed deflated.   It will be interesting to see if the stairs are really used and how long they last.

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We felt better about our own Montana walking out of the tour than when we walked in!

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We went to the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum.  The motorhome on the left is vintage 1970s with original decor including bright orange shag carpet.  It is the ugliest trailer or motor home we’ve ever seen!  Surely, it was beautiful it its day.

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Inside they have  many old trailers and motor homes.  The first dates from 1913 and was pulled by a Model T.  Unfortunately there was no good angle for a picture of that one.

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The 1929 Covered Wagon was the first production trailer in the US but went out of business during World War II.

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This 1939 trailer belonged to Charles Lindberg.


Mae West’s House Car wasn’t for camping.   It was a chauffeur driven lounge.

Although this looks like an old trailer, it is really a new “old” trailer. Very cute!!

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We saw this motorhome as we were leaving the RV Museum. It looks like the dogs are ready to get moving!

We’re moving too – this time into Ohio – but Elko isn’t driving.

 

About Serene

We live full time in our fifth wheel and travel and volunteer. We remember everyday how blessed we are to have the opportunity to live this season of our lives in this way. Our black lab, Elko, keeps us company along the way.
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