Big Valley, in Mifflin County, is a special place. A visit there can be like stepping into an idealized painting of rural America. Big Valley is home to one of the state’s largest Amish communities. It is also home to a large Mennonite community as well. Together, their farms, orchards and homesteads form the perfect backdrop for a simple life, tied to the land, where families are large, neighbors are cared for and a strong belief in God forms the glue that holds the community together.
A drive through Big Valley will restore your sense of calm. Amish and Mennonite families, whose lives are built around an agricultural lifestyle that was common in our country a century ago, work the fields and farms, raising dairy cows, sheep, goats and horses. Whether the land is tilled with modern equipment or pure horsepower, the area’s farms are Big Valley’s defining characteristic. The Valley’s rolling landscape is blanketed in a patchwork of farms that recede into the distance, punctuated with barns and silos that make this area very popular with sightseers and photographers.
The Valley’s actual name is Kishacoquillas Valley, but it is more often shortened to Kish. The name is derived from Chief Kishacoquillas of the Shawnee tribe, who befriended early settlers. Located between Standing Mountain and Jacks Mountain along Route 655, Big Valley runs from Milroy to Allensville and beyond into Huntingdon County. This is not a place to hurry through. Our traffic includes horse and buggies carrying goods to market, small livestock to sales and families to their destinations.
A long standing tradition is the Belleville Livestock Auction and Farmer’s Market. Thousands of families and visitors, some from great distances, meet in Belleville every Wednesday for the combination of farmer’s market, sprawling flea market and livestock auction. It is a cultural experience not to be missed and has punctuated the lifestyle here for many decades. Wednesdays, or “Sale Day” as it is known locally, has become the day for the Milroy and Belleville flea markets, many area yard sales, and roadside farmer’s markets. The event has grown into a destination, and the increased traffic flow helps to support a bevy of restaurants and retail stores.
Big Valley is home to a thriving business community. There are dozens of specialty shops that call the Big Valley home. Crafts, handmade furniture, canned and baked goods, home gifts, candles, collectibles, and quilts are just a few of the treasures you’ll discover, and there are several greenhouses, artisans, and a winery along the way.