the Amish of Eureka, Montana

Well, I have been Amish sleuthing. I knew the Amish had spread out from traditional communities in Ohio and Indiana and Pennsylvania in search of cheaper land and more space and privacy. I am pretty sure they have spread out from their traditional communities in southern Ontario as well. One person tells me they have met them in Michigan. Another that they have met them in Oklahoma. And did someone else mention the Carolinas? Not to mention Sherry Gore squirreled away a few miles south of Tampa in Sarasota. On the way I heard that there were Amish in Montana as well – but where?

Last week when I was doing the book signing and fundraiser at Wal-Mart for the Children’s Miracle Network a couple told me they had seen the Montana Amish and they were, in fact, in western Montana, not far from where we live in Alberta.

“What part?” I asked. “Libby?”

“Eureka,” they replied.

“Eureka!” I was startled. “Eureka’s empty of human life!”

Eureka is the border crossing between Montana and BC (British Columbia). Once you’re through the crossing there is nothing but rough land and brush and scrub pine and grass. It’s high altitude country and hardly anyone lives in the region. You have to drive 30-45 minutes before you hit beautiful Whitefish, a resort town and ski hill. After that you hit Kalispell, which is bigger than Whitefish, and then you follow the highway alongside magnificent Flathead Lake, which looks like an inland sea, all the way to Missoula – and Yellowstone.

So it made sense once I thought about it. The land around Eureka would be inexpensive compared to the going rate around Whitefish or Kalispell – or Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The growing season would be short but perhaps they would not be growing grain – they might be raising beef cattle or nurturing dairy herds. But my friends had seen them. They were there.

Now if the Amish are in a mind to sell vegetables or fruit at a farmer’s market the closest ones are going to be in Whitefish or Kalispell. The same is true if they want to pick up supplies or groceries. There is nothing at the nearby Canadian side of the border, no large towns at all. Not to mention there is the hassle of passports to cross back and forth between the US and Canada. Which means pretty soon the good people of Whitefish and Kalispell, Montana are going to have to get used to seeing buggies.

Or maybe not. That is a long buggy ride between Eureka and Whitefish-Kalispell. The highway is narrow and perhaps not too safe for horse-drawn conveyances. Would the Amish hire a driver and go in as passengers in a van or car and sell produce or pick up supplies that way? In which case the only way you are going to notice the plain people are among you is when Amos and Eli and Sarah are standing at your elbow examining watermelons and murmuring in low German.

I have not met my new neighbors but I am about to. I am soon off on an Indiana Jones type of exploration of Eureka to try and meet my friends in the Lord. I will not be a nuisance but I do want to say VELKOMMEN. Where exactly are their farms? What precisely are their shopping habits? I will let you know.

And if they do see Indiana Jones coming it should not alarm them. Vas? You don’t remember me from Der Witness???

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6 Responses to “the Amish of Eureka, Montana”

  1. Have you found out where this community is? We went through Eureka and Whitefish in hopes of finding them. By Eureka we were told to drive down the highway and turn off past the black bridge but we saw no turnoff, while in Whitefish no one we asked had ever heard of a community in that area. Do you have any directions to either location? We hope to look 2 weeks from saturday again. Thanks


    Dave Martin Reply:

    My daughter, whos been a physician in Eureka now for a year, took me to an amish “flea” market out in the boonies. Take 37 west and cross the big bridge at Koocanusa lake. Turn north and follow W Kootenai Rd. It will take you close to the Canadian border. Thats where the flea market was. On google earth someone posted a picture from the same area and titled it Amish country also.


    murray Reply:

    thank you Dave! I now know there are FIVE Amish communities in Montana so will have to track down all of them


    murray Reply:

    they have a woodworking business and there is a sign up now on the way between the border and Whitefish


  2. The Amish community in Northwestern Montana is in the town of Rexford. They are located along the side of Lake Koocanusa. Last time I visited the patriarch in charge was Andy Yoder. I’ve heard he’s since moved out of the area but other Yoders are still there. Once a year they have an auction and quilt sale. It’s always very well attended.


  3. I discovered this Amish community near Eureka quite simply by accident out practicing driving with my Mom in the Yak during the Summer of 1985, so they’ve been there for quite some time. If you you look across the water from Eurkea, you can make out the clear cut of where their community is in the forest. The directions to cross the bridge and head North should get you there.


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