A smoke-belching steam engine takes passengers through the heart of Amish country in Ohio.
SUGAR CREEK, Ohio -- A visit to the largest grouping of Amish in the world wouldn't be complete without a tour of the area via a similarly old-fashioned transit method, the steam locomotive.
The Ohio Central Railroad offers such a trip in the form of a smoke-belching steam locomotive that pulls a string of old rail cars through a small section of the Amish-laden land.
The trip is relatively inexpensive and offers a great way to see some of the behind-the-scenes views of Amish farms and the "English" life in Tuscarawas and Holmes counties.
These two counties form the center point for the Amish community in the Tuscarawas Valley, which extends as well to Coshocton, Wayne, Stark, Carroll, Harrison and Guernsey counties.
The hourlong excursion takes you via a variety of old passenger rail cars westward from Sugar Creek through the middle of working farm fields and back again.
Going at a relatively steady clip along the rails, passengers can almost always catch glimpses of Amish working the fields either with horse and plow if the farm is their own or with metal-wheeled powered farm implements if the farm being worked is owned by a non-Amish or "English" farmer.
Narration by one of the engineers on the trip adds to the educational factor, although kids of all ages will enjoy the trip purely from a novelty standpoint.
The Sugar Creek train is just one of nine railroads that the Ohio Central Railroad System operates over 425 miles of rail throughout the east central and northeast Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pa., area. The other lines include The Mahoning Valley Railway Company, Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad Corporation, Warren and Trumbull Railroad Company, Youngstown and Austintown Railroad Inc., The Youngstown Belt Railroad Company, The Columbus and Ohio River Rail Road Company, Ohio Central Railroad, Inc., Ohio Southern Railroad, Inc. and The Pittsburgh and Ohio Central Railroad.
For more information on the excursion, visit www.amishsteamtrain.com or www.ohiocentral.com.
While in the area, visitors should take advantage of the other sights and attractions in the Amish community, including several excellent Amish-style restaurants, a working Amish farm, shops and exceptional scenery.
For more on attractions in the Tuscarawas Valley, visit www.neohiotravel.com/myweb/attractions.html.