Goshen, Indiana

Goshen is a convenient base for touring the Amish and Mennonite communities of northern Indiana, with artisan and craft shops stocking locally made items.

The Old Bag Factory in Goshen houses artists workshops and stores (photo by Elkhart County CVB)

Goshen serves as a hub for touring the Amish communities of northern Indiana, but it’s also an attractive destination in itself.

Goshen College, the country’s largest Mennonite institution of higher learning, has a student body of 1,000, about half of whom are Mennonite. (While Amish children almost never attend school past the eighth grade, the school has also had a few Amish students in its history.)

Illustration from the Martyrs Mirror (Bob Sessions photo)
Illustration from the Martyrs Mirror, which is one of the books on display at the Mennonite Historical Library (Bob Sessions photo)

On the third floor of Good Library is the Mennonite Historical Library, the world’s most comprehensive archives on the denominations that grew out of the Anabaptist tradition (primarily the Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites). Along with 65,000 books, it includes  genealogical records, maps, and periodicals as well as quilts, toys, furniture, and folk art. (More on Learning from the Mennonites). The library also hosts temporary exhibits in a gallery on its lower level.

Next tour Goshen itself, a town of about 30,000. Its picturesque downtown is lined with historic buildings that house locally owned shops, coffeehouses and restaurants.

Notice the fortress-like structure on the corner of its courthouse square—the police booth was built in 1939 to protect the local banks from John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd, who had a habit of robbing financial institutions in the region.

Don’t miss the Olympia Candy Kitchen, which opened in 1912 and is still owned by the same Greek-American family. Eat a sandwich at its old-fashioned counter and then sample its tasty hand-dipped candies. On the south side of the downtown, the South Side Soda Shop is a classic diner that sells more than 50 varieties of pie as well as malts, shakes, burgers and fries.

Detail from quilt at Quilt Designs in Goshen (Bob Sessions photo)
Quilting is a time-honored tradition in Amish and Mennonite communities. (Bob Sessions photo)

The rich handcraft traditions of the surrounding Amish-Mennonite community, as well as Goshen College’s strong art department, have helped nurture a thriving arts community in Goshen.

The Old Bag Factory, originally built in the 1890s as a soap factory, is now home to a variety of workshops and stores operated by local artisans. Sculptor John Mischler creates large kinetic pieces made primarily from stainless steel and aluminum, while potter Mark Goertzen crafts wood-fired pieces in elegant designs.

Main page for Indiana’s Amish Country

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Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.



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