Why More Amish Are Moving to Colorado

June 2009

Small towns like Westcliffe, in the valley under southern Colorado's Sangre de Cristo mountains, are facing a new sort of traffic jam that involves horses and buggies. That's because Amish families are moving in, fleeing the high land prices and overcrowding in eastern states. As Ben Coblentz, an alfalfa farmer from Indiana tells The Associated Press, there's more open space and opportunity for younger farmers out West. Moreover, Coblentz, who now lives in Monte Vista, adds, "The general public seems to have a little slower pace of life than what it was back east. Everybody here respects us." Amish men are known for wearing simple black pants and a white or blue shirt. Women wear dresses, bonnets, and aprons. The Amish don't use electricity: no computers, phones, television, or cars. Sixty percent of America's Amish still live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, but Colorado is seeing an Amish boom of sorts as the state population has grown from zero to more than 400 since 2002 and ranks seventh in the nation for Amish immigration, according to the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Pennsylvania's Elizabethtown College. It seems the effort has been a long time in the making. The Amish America blog notes the Amish first tried settling in Colorado--Ordway--about a century ago, but the attempt to create a community back then failed.