Amish Workers Right At Home Building RVs in Ind.

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June 24, 2017 by   Leave a Comment

The Amish settlements of Nappanee and Elkhart-La Grange are less than an hour’s drive apart and both about a three-hour drive north of Indianapolis. The flat, almost treeless landscape is home to horse stables and barns, white wooden houses, antiquated farming equipment and nearly 30,000 Amish.

Regardless of the decade, these communities seem to remain constant in appearance, according to a report by Atlas Obscura.

Permissible technology for the Amish varies by community depending on the bishop — the local religious leader who determines the rules. Some, like Northern Indiana’s Amish, allow gas to power laundry machines and indoor lighting, or business owners to use cell phones and email at work. Generally, though, modern technology beyond work purposes is prohibited, and no matter how progressive the community, operating a motor vehicle, even for work, is out of the question.

But there’s more than meets the eye, and it only takes a bit longer in the region to take notice—the number of recreational vehicles. Trailers are pulled behind trucks, and tour bus-sized coaches squeeze through the small-town streets.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RV manufacturing is a $50 billion business in the United States, employing nearly 300,000 Americans. Most of the RVs in America — 80% — are made in Northern Indiana.

The Amish in this region don’t just live near the RV epicenter, they’re building the vehicles. According to Steve Nolt, senior scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, most of the Amish men under 65 work in factories. The majority of these manufacturing plants either assemble RVs or supply parts such as cabinets or windows.

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