On our latest trip to Lancaster, my husband and I chose to stay in Strasburg, near the center of the county. I was researching my latest series, the Neighbors of Lancaster County. The three novels are about a military family that moves next door to an Amish family, who live on a farm outside of Strasburg.
We’d already visited the storybook town a few times over the past several years—but I wanted to take a closer look.
The village was named after Strasbourg, France and built along the old Conestoga Road, which connected Philadelphia to the “west.” By 1750 a tavern and several log buildings had been built in the village. Ten years later, ten hotels housed the many travelers passing through.
Today the town of nearly 3,000 residents stretches along two miles of the Strasburg Road and is known for its Georgian and Federal architecture, the many railroad sites in and around town, and the large Amish population nearby.
The first time we drove through Strasburg, five years ago, my head nearly spun around trying to take it all in. I felt as if I’d just stepped back in time to the 1700s. Everything about the town, from the hand-hewn log cabins to the stately brick buildings, enchanted me.
Over Memorial Day weekend of last year, we booked a room on the second floor of the very lovely Strasburg Village Inn, right in the center of town.
We went to sleep to the clippity-clop of horses’ hooves and woke to the same, imagining the Amish buggies zipping by on the street below, wondering where they were headed.
We strolled the streets of Strasburg, stopping at each historical marker to read the date, and then turned into the cemetery that was adorned with American flags. Memorial Day was a fitting weekend for us to visit. My husband, Peter, is a vet and we were touched to honor the many veterans laid to rest in the old cemetery, many from as far back as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
We didn’t spend all of our time in Strasburg that weekend. We went on a buggy ride, visited a couple of Amish farms, drove around the back roads, and had dinner with an Amish family.
We also scouted out the setting for the adjacent farms in my novels, finding the perfect place. The families live on the fictional Juneberry Lane, and I found the exact representation—not too far from a covered bridge.
When we returned to Strasburg, we stepped into several of the shops and, most important of all, had ice cream at the Strasburg Creamery, something we’ve done on every one of our visits to the village.
The first novel in my new series, Amish Promises, released last month and has a few scenes in Strasburg. The next book in the series, Amish Sweethearts, has even more scenes in this picture-perfect village.
Visiting a setting for a story brings it all alive for me. I imagine my characters with a new intensity once I’ve visited the right “place.” Strasburg is one of those special settings that not only brings a story alive, but also the centuries of history it’s witnessed and preserved. I can’t get enough of this historic village.
Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and Christy Award winning author of twenty novels. She and her husband, Peter, live in Portland, Oregon and are the revolving-door parents of four children and three cats. Besides writing, Leslie enjoys church history, Shakespeare, traveling, and going to the movies with her hubby on Friday nights. Her latest release is Amish Promises, the first in the Neighbors of Lancaster County series.
Purchase Leslie’s books here.
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