Today we issue another wonderful stamp in the Scenic American Landscapes series. This one features a photograph by James Amos of the beautiful countryside of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. An Amish buggy travels along a country road, passing one of the county’s iconic farms. Amos says, “I have always enjoyed the bucolic and peaceful nature of Lancaster County. This was a spot that I especially liked, and I remember returning to it several times.” Ethel Kessler was the art director.
Settlers seeking land and religious freedom flocked to Lancaster County even before its official establishment in 1729. They found safe haven in this westernmost frontier of William Penn’s “holy experiment,” which represented the belief, put into action, that members of different religions could co-exist peacefully. Among the settlers were the Amish and Mennonites, Protestant sects from Germany and Switzerland, who have become synonymous with Lancaster County. Because of their strict adherence to Biblical scripture and their belief in a community-centered life, the Old Order Amish in particular created a separate and distinct culture that has endured, largely unchanged, for centuries. Known popularly as the Pennsylvania Dutch—likely a corruption of the word Deutsch (meaning German)—the Amish helped to shape the county with their simple lifestyle and traditions and, ironically, became the focus of intense attention from tourists.
Tourism is among the most profitable enterprises of Lancaster County. Horse-drawn buggies, picture-perfect farmhouses, and villages with evocative names like Bird-in-Hand and Blue Ball draw visitors from around the world; the county is also blessed with a natural beauty and an enviable historical heritage. Scores of perfectly preserved 18th- and 19th-century buildings grace the area’s small towns. Beautiful parks, rivers, wildflower glens and woodlands beckon nature lovers, hikers, bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. A ride down tranquil country roads leads past pristine farms, cultivated fields surrounded by flower gardens, historic churches, and quaint covered bridges. Famous for its antiques markets and country auctions, the county is also home to a thriving arts and crafts community.
Fertile land makes Lancaster County one of the most productive non-irrigated agricultural counties in the United States. It is home to more than 5,000 farms, the majority of them family-owned for generations. Roadside stands and farmer’s markets greet residents and visitors alike with a feast of fresh produce and Pennsylvania Dutch favorites like shoofly pie and chow chow relish.
With its booming economy and geographic proximity to major metropolitan areas along the East Coast, Lancaster County saw an influx of new residents in the last half of the 20th century, creating tension between those who support development and those who wish to preserve the county’s traditional rural lifestyle and pastoral beauty. Family farms are especially vulnerable as open land is sought for housing and retail development.
Though the population has continued to grow since the 1950s, a number of initiatives seek to preserve the county’s unique character. In the last 30 years, farmland preservation programs safeguarded tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land, and historic preservation projects have saved scores of the county’s architectural treasures from destruction since the 1960s. Beginning in 1994, an emphasis on heritage tourism—a national movement that seeks to combine authentic local experiences for visitors with the economic benefits of sustainable tourism for residents—empowered local artisans, museums, historic houses, and other cultural resources to develop programs that celebrate the county’s traditions and history. Ongoing efforts seek to strike balances between development and preservation, agriculture and industry, and modern economic needs and tradition that can help the county maintain its unique place in the American landscape.
The $1.05 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, stamp is being issued in self-adhesive sheets of 20 at a price of $21.00 a sheet, blocks of 4 stamps at $4.20, and blocks of 10 stamps at $10.50. This is the First-Class Mail one-ounce rate for international mail to countries other than Mexico and Canada. A First Day Cover is also available.