It was actually formed from parts of Geauga and Trumbull counties on June 7, 1807.
The name Ashtabula is Iroquoian for "river of many fish." It is the largest county by area in the entire state of Ohio and boasts a total area of 1,368 square miles. Over 170,000 acres of this are beautiful farmland.
You can experience the sheer beauty of all four seasons. Even though officially part of the "snow belt" and subject to lake effect snow, the climate is somewhat tempered by the lake.
In summertime you can enjoy breathtaking sunsets as you watch the sun slowly sink into Lake Erie. The abundant sugar maple trees provide the most exquisite gold and crimson colors in the Fall.
The county officially made it on the map as "Ohio Amish Country" in 1991. Prices of farmland in Geauga County reached the point where young Amish couples had difficulty affording enough land to get started farming successfully.
So, it was the less expensive land that drew the first wave of Amish to Ashtabula County Ohio.
They came from Middlefield in Geauga County along with another 25 or so families who make up the "Cherry Valley" settlement. This group also flows into the Denmark and Dorset areas.
The county settlements are largely farming ones. Their members are relatively low-profile, in contrast to the high level of recognition in their home county.
Geauga County's Amish community spills into this county's southwest corner. A small settlement has been present for over two decades. This Amish community also extends south to Mesopotamia in Trumbull County.
The Andover settlement was founded in February 1992. These Amish belong to the "White Top Nebraskan" Amish order, the "lowest" order in terms of simplicity and adherence to Amish tenets. They are distinguished from the other Amish by their white buggies.
Down the road, in Williamsfield, a new community is taking shape. It was established a few years ago by families from western New York. The settlement is clustered around the intersection of Routes 7 and 322. There were originally five families in this settlement.
The most intensive migration to this county has occurred in the rural townships above Andover - Richmond, Pierpont and Monroe. The "Conneaut" Amish settlement has well over 60 families. This settlement spills into Pennsylvania to Cherry Hill.
It is said that the population of an Amish community can be estimated by dividing the school population by a factor of .22. In the case of the Conneaut settlement, that would place the population at over 350. It is likely the smaller settlements in the county add over 150 to 200 to Ashtabula County Ohio Amish population estimates.
One of the County's greatest assets and natural resources is its 30 miles of beautiful lakeshore along Lake Erie. You'll enjoy six public beaches, several public parks with playgrounds, a couple of marinas and even a mud flat.
Conneaut harbor's mud flats offers a great bird sanctuary if you're into watching migratory birds. We've actually met some Amish in Wayne County who regularly come here for "bird watching."
Don't miss the Lake Erie Coastal Byway. This is Ohio's newest scenic byway. This scenic route covers the entire stretch of State Route 531 beginning in Conneaut. It runs along the lake shore through Ashtabula and ends in Geneva-on-the-Lake.
You must stop along the way at one of the parks and watch a breath-taking sunset. Where the sky and lake meet, it turns from a brilliant orange to a crimson red as the sun slowly disappears into the lake.
Ashtabula County Rails to Trails
The Western Reserve Greenway is a trail that lies within the two most northeastern counties of Ohio. It is a part of the Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway.
The Greenway Trail is on the former PennCentral right-of-way which closed in April, 1976. It runs north to south, roughly parallel to State Route 45 and also passes under Interstate 90.
The Western Reserve Greenway is 43 miles in length. Ashtabula County Ohio is home to 27 of these miles - beginning in Ashtabula City and running south to below Orwell. From there it leaves Ashtabula County and enters Trumbull County continuing to Champion, just north of the city of Warren.
Because some of the trail's construction has been federally funded, motorized vehicles are prohibited except for motorized wheelchairs and maintenance vehicles. Yet, the same law allows snowmobiles to be used when winter conditions permit.
The reason - for the County to receive the federal funding it was contingent upon the trail being usable during all four seasons. And of course Ashtabula County Ohio is certainly known for snow during the winter.
Along the trail you'll find scenic waterways and bridges as well as rural villages and even nearby covered bridges. Once fully developed, the Western Reserve Greenway trail will tie into a national network of hiking and biking trails - all yours to enjoy!
Information on the Amish adapted from "A Faith on the Move" a four-part series about the Amish settlements of Ashtabula County by Carl E. Feather Lifestyles Editor, Ashtabula Star Beacon.
Information on Western Reserve Greenway adapted from Rails to Trails Conservancy web site and Ashtabula County Ohio Metro-Parks web site.
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