I was in an Amish warehouse recently and I noticed this portable gaslight lamp (above), and I thought I’d talk a bit about how the Amish light their homes and businesses.
Until recent years (and still very often today), Amish homes and business were lit mostly with old-style kerosene lanterns and more often, gaslight from a propane tank. The light shines out of a “mantle” made of some kind of fireproof material. The glow is pretty, but it flickers and it’s hard to read by.
The portable gaslight I saw in the warehouse was not made to be pretty, but the ones used in homes are often built into what look like end tables on wheels. Underneath – the gas tank. Up above – the light fixture. But these days, the gas tanks inside the end tables are being replaced with large batteries, and the light up above comes from an LED bulb. Still portable, but much better. Sometimes there is a pretty lampshade, but I used this picture because it shows the “works” better. A second one can be seen in the background to the right.
Other types of gaslights are built into the walls of the homes. Newer and newly remodeled Amish homes often have built-in gas lines with lights like this one, seen in a bathroom. Some local Amish farmhouses are even being hooked up to the natural gas lines that are making their way into the countryside.
I used to see all kinds of portable kerosene and gas lanterns, which were carried around and hung on hooks on the ceiling. Many of those are being replaced by portable battery-powered lanterns such as this brand-new one I saw the other day:
Some people believe the Amish don’t use electricity at all, which is not true. They use batteries, generators, and even solar panels, for instance. What they don’t use is regular Com-Ed type power. This lifestyle choice evolved early in the 20th century as a way to keep television, radio, and other worldly influences out of their homes.
If an Amish family buys an “English” home—an increasingly common event these days in our area—the Amish family has one year to remove the electricity from the home. As one Amish farm wife (and mother of eight) told me, “I’m sure going to miss that dishwasher!”