Part 1: A Quiz on SR 655
Route 66 (there are nearly 800 books with Route 66 as its central subject with more giving this road some attention), Lincoln Highway (Route 30) (290 books), The Great Silk Road of Asia (over 1400 —in English) all have their travelers, photographers and chroniclers. SR 655 may not be ready for full book treatment, but, SR 655 deserves some attention. Recently I have accomplished what few (if any others) have accomplished: driven the entire length of SR 655 in one day. Even my spouse, Julia, born and raised several hundred feet from that thoroughfare had not completed this journey. Her family has an 1814 deed positioning a corner of the family farm at a “large rock” at the edge of “The Great Road”. (The farm at the upper side of Allensville is now the Peachey farm.) Julia is one of the natives of Big Valley that knew that 655 has its northern end at Reedsville at North Main Street or Old 322, but had never seen the southern end. To stimulate your interest in a more in-depth look at SR 655, here are some question to challenge your knowledge of the “Great Road”.
Which of the following towns is nearest the southern end of 655?
(1) a. Cumberland, Md. c. Hancock, Md
b. Warfordsburg, Pa. d. Maugansville, Md
And, (2) how far is it from that beginning to Reedsville?
(3). Before 1964 only the section through Big Valley (Mill Creek to Reedsville) was called 655. How long is that section?
Maybe you are as surprised as I am about how much of 655 is not in Big Valley. So, most of the following towns may be unfamiliar to you.
(4) Which of the following towns are not on 655-the southern section?
- Calvin b. Needmore
- Three Springs d. Hustontown
SR 655 may be thread that knits the Valley together, the “tie that binds”; it’s a common bond.
(5). But which of the following is NOT a name of SR 655?
- Kish Road
- Pleasant Ridge Road
- Waterfall Road
- Big Valley Pike
- Hares Valley Road
(6) “The Great Road” has also been felt the means of escape from the Valley. Between Rt 322 and Rt 22 several roads permit “escape” from the Valley. But which of the following does NOT lead out of Big Valley?
- Wills Road
- Allensville Road
- Greenwood Road
- Coopers Gap Road
- Barrville Mountain Road
(7) Times have bypassed some settlements in the Valley and little evidence of them remains. Some roads are named for these settlements. 655 does NOT pass through/by one of the following roads or former settlement. Which is it?
(8) The mountain ridges above 655 in Big Valley are named Jacks and Stone. Which has the highest elevation above sea level?
- Jacks 2321 feet
- Jacks 1456 feet
- Stone 2640 feet
- Stone 2092 feet
(9)What is the average height above the SR655 (in feet) of these ridges?
10. Everyone knows that Kishacoquillas drains the lower end of the Big Valley, which stream drains the “tight” end?
- Mill Creek
- Saddlers Creek
- Fousetown Creek
- Flush Run
11. What bodies of water does SR 655 NOT cross?
- Kishacoquillas Creek
- Juniata River
- Coffee Run
- Tea Creek
It is noteworthy is that there is only one public restroom on SR655 between the Sheetz on Pennsylvania Ave in Hancock, Md and Mapleton, Pa on Route 22*. The Post Office/Store combination on the Lincoln Highway has a prominent sign “No Public Restrooms”. We did not patronize the store. Some may remember other features of this route like how many passing lanes there are between Reedsville and Mill Creek, how many buggies there are to pass on Wednesdays (Belleville Sale Day), why the Huntingdon County part of the Valley is called the “tight end” or how many churches one can see between the Primitive Baptist near the start of 655 and Mt. View near the end. Productive farms, big and little businesses, picturesque barns and houses populate the way from Hancock to Reedsville. Describing all these might produce a tedious book. Best to leave that kind of travelogue to someone else. But, I will attempt a more detailed account of my journey on SR 655 to be published later in another blog.
- c. Hancock; 2. B: 83.5 3. B: 24.7; 4. b: Three Springs; 5. A: Kish Rd.; 6. D: Coopers Gap; 7. B: Peacheyville; 8. A: Jacks 2321; 9. C: 560; 10. B: Saddlers; 11. D: Tea Creek.
(Information comes from Wikipedia, Google Maps and my poor memory as corrected by several natives of the Valley. Additional corrections appreciated.)
Mile 55.5: U. S Silica, according to its web site: “The Premier Silica Sand Provider for Today and Tomorrow”
The Mill Creek Post Office is south of SR655 near the Juniata.
Mile 57.7: SR 655 turns north toward Big Valley and is called Valley Pike. The original 655 ended/began here until 1964. Mill Creek to Maryland was added at that time.
Just beyond this intersection are two churches:
Mill Creek United Methodist
Mill Creek Baptist
At the edge of Mill Creek, Flush Run Creek crosses 655 and enters Mill Creek.
Mile 58.2: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of the Valley
59.3: Next is Fousetown, (Fousetown Bible Church is shown on the map, but I could not locate it.)
A little further is Sand Plant Road. At Sand Plant Road one can pull off and sometimes see the huge trucks taking sand to the Mapleton plant for processing.
Mile 60.1: Now, the traveler goes up Cramer Hill and enters
Kishacoquillas Valley. From Cramer Hill to 322 at Reedsville is about 22 miles.
This is the “tight end” of the valley. The Kish valley is narrow here in contrast with the wideness of Kish Valley at Reedsville.
Mile 60.2: Airydale. Here is a house which was formerly a school and a sign for Brown Farms. That’s all there is to Airydale! But, Airydale warrants a road sign with mileage sign further down the valley along the Back-Mountain Rd. at Waynesburg Rd. The road past Brown Farm was closed sometime in the past 30 years. [Sign just visible near center of photo.]
Mile 66.6: Most of Kish Valley is in Mifflin County, but the first mile 6.5 miles (to mile 66.6 near Sharpsburg Road) is in Huntingdon County. Sadler Creek drains the Valley from just northeast of Sharpsburg Road and southwest to Mill Creek.
Mile 67.4: Allensville Lutheran. The church is on next to the corner of the former Hartzler, now Joseph Peachey farm where my spouse, Julia Hartzler Alleman grew up.
Mile 67.5: Allensville, Pa, Post Office 173 W. Main.
A bit further down the road is Mary Lee’s Fabric Store (formerly Rehoboth Christian Fellowship, before that Kennedy’s Store and Allensville General Store), then comes Allensville Community Church (formerly Presbyterian) 126 E. Main Street on the other side of the street.
Allensville Restaurant, officially Country Village Restaurant, is known for its buffet and Sunday chicken and waffles.
Mile 68.8: Allensville Mennonite Church.
There are many Amish, Mennonite and other farms along this route to Belleville.
Mile 73.2: Locust Grove Mennonite is located just before one gets to the town. A sign at the edge of the parking lot directs one to the Belleville Mennonite School several miles to the east.
The next town is Belleville, Pa considered the center of the Mennonite Amish community. Someone has claimed that there are twelve varieties of Amish and Mennonites in the Valley. Yellow top carriages, white top carriages, black carriages and black buggies (no tops) can be seen on SR 655.
Mile 76.6 is St. John’s Lutheran Church.
Mile 79.4: West Kishacoquillas Presbyterian Church.
At the bottom of the hill at the corner of Walnut Street is the Mennonite Heritage Center.
At Mile 74.8 is Abe’s Café and opposite it is S. Penn Street which provides access to the Belleville Livestock Market, Flea Market, Produce Market and Auction Barn on Wednesdays.
Baked goods are available with excellent moonpies and whoopee pies. My favorites are the Purple Martin apple moon pies (half-moon pies).
Mile 75.6: Ye Olde Dog House has shakes, cones and sandwiches. Since my spouse’s birth name is Hartzler, I must note that they also have “Hartzler Shakes” at $5.75 (the “Big Dog).
Mile 75.7: Ritchies’ Original Italian Pizza Restaurant has good Stromboli and other meals. I would give it a higher rating if it was not closed the week our family is usually in the Valley.
Mile 81.7 Just about visible on the right is Mountain View Mennonite Chapel, Reedsville
Mile 87.1: SR 655 passes under US Route 322.
Mile 87.3: North Main Street, Reedsville, the end of State Route 655.
After nearly eighty-eight miles the weary traveler has finally reached the climax of the journey. Other travelers would note wonders I have neglected or missed. Another trip will possibly bring some these to my attention. No rainbow gold, wise seer or striking vista as a reward for persisting to the end of the road. But the variety of churches, fields, gardens, houses and flowers, makes the journey the benefit.
Names of SR 655
- Thompson Road
- Great Cove Road + US 522
- Pleasant Ridge Road
- Pitt Street
- Waterfall Road
- Main Street (Saltilo)
- Hares Valley Road
- Campbell Street
- Bridge Street
- Oriskany Street
- William Penn Highway + US 22
- Valley Pike
- Main Street (Allensville)
- Main Street (Belleville