Driving to Canton, NY, on the 4th, I was startled to see a horse and buggy coming down the road. It was south of Ogdensburg, near the junction of 37 and 12 highways. A man decked out in black held the reins, traveling alone on the shoulder of the busy road. I knew we were coming into Amish Country but hadn’t expected it so soon.
New York has the fastest-growing Amish population in America and ranks 5th overall, I read on amishamerica.com. More than 12,000 live in the state in 89 church districts, mostly up here in the northlands. The first Amish settlers arrived in New York in 1831 and have held a significant presence here since the 1970s, I read.
On the south edge of Ogdensburg, I directed Nebra to take St. Lawrence County Road 812 southeast toward Heulveton. This is lush farm country. Bountiful stands of corn line both sides of 812. It is also a land of big, big barns, the kinds you used to see in movies set in New England.
Heulveton is a quiet village, and neat, it seemed as we passed through. The Amish website described it as “a highly-conservative Swartzentrube Amish community, the second largest in New York with 11 church districts as of 2010.” We passed another horse driven buggy in town and a third in Rensselaer Falls on Road 14.
It is not all hard-core Amish up here, not by a long shot.
Vehicles abound as does farm machinery, things you would think to be too modern to be of interest to a conservative branch of the sect. And several miles south Heulveton, near the point where the 812 and the 14 roads intersect, there is a brightly painted Unified Methodist Church.
These backroads proved a nice and relaxing diversion. Wished now we had stopped in Heulveton and walked around. But this day, we were road warriors, wanting to reach Canton before everything closed down.