Old stone houses like this one built around 1837 as a tavern are common in the area.
Our first stop is the town of Volant which is one of two villages at the heart of Amish country in Western Pennsylvania. The Amish are a religious sect which has been practicing in America for two centuries. They are known for banning modern conveniences such as electricity and automobiles.
Wide shoulders along the road are for those famous Amish buggies. No parking signs remind visitors that this is a travel lane. These lanes one of the accommodations the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides for Amish communities. The Amish have their own schools with special holidays for harvest season and other traditional events. Their education in completed at the end of 8th grade.
Shops in town are owned by "The English" or non-Amish.
The old grist mill is the center of the village.
The former mill is now a shop featuring Amish-made goods like these rockers, swings and gliders.
Inside parts of the old mill have been left in place.
Simple and plain products on display in keeping with the preferred style of the area.
The gallery upstairs features Amish handcrafted furniture and accessories for the home.
Pulleys from the mill.
A view of the frozen mill stream. This small park is popular for picnics in the summer.
Molasses tank on the side of the old mill. The molasses produced here was most likely from Sorghum or "feed cane" grown by local farmers.
The Meeting House where local events and farmer's markets are held.
Driving out of town to the north you will find Amish farms with their plain white buildings. Look closely and see buggy wheel tracks in the mud on the side of the road. We did not see any buggies out and about on this visit but they are often a common sight in the area.
Some of the farms have shops selling quilts and other products to tourists. In the fall you will find unpasteurized Apple Cider available. This quiet enclave in Western Pennsylvania hasn't yet taken on the Amish theme park atmosphere of Lancaster several hours drive to the east.
A couple of buggies can be seen parked along the drive at this farm. The law requires the use of the reflector, headlights, and turn blinkers but sometimes these safety features are not enough. Just two days before our visit two members of this Amish community were killed when their buggy was hit by a tractor-trailer truck and the community was in mourning.
We took a left on Covered Bridge Road where another Amish farm comes into view. There is no electricity in the home but they do use natural gas to power refrigerators.
Laundry on the line. The Amish are known for their plain, dark clothing, although the red bandana is popular with men and younger girls may wear lighter clothing.
Another line of laundry at the next farm along the road.
An Amish buggy in the barn. This is a very modern Amish farm with a cement mixer and I also spotted a John Deere tractor. While motorized vehicles are not allowed for transportation you will occasionally see diesel-powered machinery necessary for business.
The buggy is typically drawn by one horse which is always dark in color.
The red barn is not Amish but very typical of the Pennsylvania farm style and pretty against the snow.
We have arrived at the Banks Covered Bridge across Neshannock Creek which is still in regular use for daily travel in the community. Built in 1889 it is 121 ft. long.
The "Burr Arch Truss" construction is a typical covered bridge construction. This is a single continuous truss made from one tree.
A view from the side and the farm we just passed in the background.
A look down at the creek with its steep banks. It blends in with the snow but you can just see the bridge through the trees.
Next stop is McConnell's Mill State Park and a dramatic setting for a covered bridge over Slippery Rock Gorge.