About five miles east of Millersburg, a turnoff on Rte. 557 leads south to the aptly named village of Charm. Surrounded by lush, rolling farmland, Charm makes you feel as if you’ve wandered into a Grant Wood painting. Amish farms are limited in size to the amount of land that a single family can work without modern machinery, and each rise in the road will reveal as many as a dozen farmsteads, their simple white houses, huge dairy barns, and neatly furrowed fields laid out as precisely as the squares on a checkerboard.
Returning to Rte. 39 east, the drive soon reaches another farming town, Berlin, where visitors can learn about the Amish and their Anabaptist kin, the Mennonites. Stop at the Mennonite Information Center, located on County Road 77, just off Rte. 39. Its chief attraction is a grand cyclorama, or circular painting. Measuring 10 feet high by 265 feet long, this magnificent mural depicts the heritage of the Amish and Mennonite people from their mutual origins in medieval Zurich, Switzerland, in 1525 to the present.
About one mile east of town, a former Amish farm offers tours, buggy rides, quilt-making demonstrations, and a pondside that makes a great spot for a picnic.
Of all the picturesque towns that can be seen along the drive, perhaps none is as distinctive as Sugarcreek. Nicknamed The Little Switzerland of Ohio, Sugarcreek really does conjure up the flavor of a Swiss village. Here you may find yourself bobbing to the beat of polka music that drifts out from the town’s storefronts, all colorfully decorated with appealing alpine scenes.
Sugarcreek is also the departure point for the Ohio Central Railroad, which offers tours of Amish country. The depot is on Factory Street, not far from the local McDonald’s—equipped with hitching posts to accommodate Amish horse-drawn buggies.
6. Schoenbrunn Village State Memorial
At New Philadelphia head southeast on Rte. 259 (High Avenue) to Schoenbrunn Village State Memorial, site of Ohio’s earliest Christian settlement. Founded in 1772 as a Moravian mission to the Delaware Indians, Schoenbrunn (German for “beautiful spring”) lasted only five years, but today its 17 reconstructed log buildings evoke life on the Ohio frontier. The original cemetery endures as a mute memorial to the heroic men and women who braved wilderness and war to make their homes here.
Continue east on Rte. 39 east until you reach Sherrodsville; then follow Rte. 212 northwest to the sandy beach at 1,540-acre Atwood Lake, a crescent of blue amid green forest and farmland. To finish the drive, return to Rte. 39 and continue east for 40 miles on this long, rolling straightaway to Wellsville, the mighty Ohio River, and the West Virginia border.