Holmes County a refreshingly different place to experience

Art Weber

        East of Mansfield and northwest of Coshocton is a land that time has seemed to have forgotten, or, more correctly, has been purposely ignored.
        Visitors can enjoy Holmes County as they wish, complete with luxury accommodations, Wi-Fi, cable, cell phones – the works.
        Many residents, however, believe in a simpler life. Throughout the countryside you’ll see beautiful prosperous farms without electricity, the land plowed behind powerful horses bred for the job. Horses commonly provide transportation, pulling buggies and wagons down roads shared with speeding automobiles and trucks.
        Simple Christian-based living, hard work, plain dress, and an aversion to modern conveniences characterize their family-focused lifestyle.
        The result is a refreshingly different place to experience and enjoy.
        Holmes County is well known for its Amish community, which, when considered with Amish in neighboring counties of Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Stark and Ashland, is the largest in the United States. Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is second.
        A rolling countryside dominated by crop and pasture lands translates into one of Ohio’s most productive agricultural areas. Livestock, dairy and grain production, and timber harvest are all important. Not surprisingly, there is an unusually high number of horses to be seen in pastures and working on farms – many of them the large powerful Percheron and Belgium draft horses.
        For the buggies, though, you’ll typically see sleeker and faster trotters that go clipping past, trained to be unfazed by the noise and presence of auto and truck traffic.
        Visit Holmes and it won’t be long before you realize that most of the traffic follows a main highway – SR 39 – that connects the cornerstone towns of Millersburg, Berlin, and Sugarcreek. Towns brimming with charm, shopping, restaurants, and strolling tourists.
        Venturing off the main highway is both a delight and a challenge. Picturesque farmsteads are tucked among the folds of an impossibly green – in summer – rolling landscape. Roads ranging from paved and often bermless roads to narrow graveled byways wind as they alternately follow and attack contours, winding and intersecting in ways that only a seasoned resident can follow without a good map or GPS.
        But it’s worth it. There are real gems on those back roads. Beautiful scenes and unlikely shops often packed with – you guessed it – Amish furniture and crafts, or the meats and cheeses that are the products of their farms. Exploring is essential to the experience.
        Natural areas are there, too. Even a waterfall – Dundee Falls – that tumbles into a beautiful gorge in the Beach City State Wildlife Area. Like the waterfalls to be found just to the west in Mohican Country, the flow can vary widely with the seasonal rainfall. At least Dundee is said to be fairly dependable to have some flow through most of the year.
        Accommodations vary widely from Airbnbs, to bed and breakfasts on up to the Inn at Honey Run, a stylish modern boutique hotel and restaurant.
        Shopping is a favorite, with an array of choices, including some of the best cheese to be found anywhere. The area is home to Walnut Creek and Guggisberg cheeses and other products.
        For more information, visit Amish Country Tourism Bureau at www.VisitAmishCountry.com or call 330-674-3975 and request a map and visitors guide.
        Travelers concerned about COVID should use masks indoors. Holmes County is among the lowest for vaccinations in Ohio.


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