Amish settlements are relatively recent compared to other settlement groups of the heritage area. The first settlements were made in 2002 around the Manassa area, but now there area several communities across the counties of the San Luis Valley. The appeal to move from more populated eastern states to rural southern Colorado were the wide open spaces, agricultural lifestyle, and rural environment allow them to maintain their preferred way of life with little opposition or intrusion.
Amish revere God first and their families and farms second. A people of devout faith, they interpret and apply Scripture as the Word of God. They separate themselves from the things of the world that they feel could be destructive to their practiced way of life and things that will keep them from being close to God. They do not permit electricity or telephones in their homes so not to allow the modern world from intruding into their home life. They interpret electrical wires as a connection to the world that may offer unnecessary temptations. In 1919, Amish leaders agreed that connecting to power lines would not benefit their communities.
They do not permit the use of tractors in their fields but do use modern farm equipment pulled by teams of horses or mules. They do not own or operate vehicles but travel via horse and buggy. Sometimes Amish can be seen getting rides or hiring rides in automobiles. This is one example of adapting and accepting some modernization to meet their needs of living, like traveling for work or supplies. They will use gasoline to operate water heaters, modern stoves and refrigerators and gas powered lighting.
Traditionally Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch in the home, which is a dialect of German and the vast majority also speak English. They wear simple clothing. Women and girls wear modest dresses, often solid-colored fabric, with long sleeves and a skirt no shorter than half-way between the knee and the floor. Dresses are covered with an apron. A white prayer covering is worn on the head of married woman and single women will wear a black one. Women never cut their hair and wear it in a low bun. No jewelry is worn. Men wear dark-colored suits, strait-cut coats with no lapels, broadfall trousers, suspenders, solid-colored shirts, black socks and shoes and black or straw broad-brimmed hats. Their clothing is an expression of their faith and encourages humility and separation from worldliness.
The Amish have a strong sense of community spirit and have worked together to establish themselves as important settlers in the San Luis Valley. Their highly skilled craftmanship, work ethic, humility and of course their sought after baked goods have helped solidify them as important members of the ever changing culture of this high alpine valley.