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Wagon train rolls despite weather

May 20, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Saturday's rain couldn't stop the wagon train, but it affected several other National Pike Festival-related activities in Washington County.

A parade in Clear Spring was canceled because of the rain. But scores of people still came out for the activities at Clear Spring High School, which included craft sales, an Indian dance exhibition and refreshments presented by the school band.

The bad weather also kept many people away from the first day of the Boonsboro Founders Day festival at Shafer Park. The festival continues today with events including the wagon trail ride which is concluding in the park.

"The weather's affected everything," said Richard Gink, organizer of the Founders Day activities.

That didn't stop the horses, mules and their masters as they rode from Clear Spring to Hagerstown on National Pike, also known as U.S. 40.

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"I'd rather have the rain than 90 degrees and humid. It keeps the horses cool," said rider Laura Parrish of Keedysville.

Parrish was one of about 130 people riding, and about 50 horses and mules in the wagon train, an annual event since 1989. Some riders planned to camp in Hagerstown's City Park tonight before finishing the 36-mile trip to Boonsboro.

"I like the people and the nostalgia," Parrish said. "This was the only way of transportation a long time ago."

Richard and Josephine Brust, two spectators who caught up with the wagon train when it stopped for a rest at the R.H. Wilson & Son country store, said they've been watching the annual event for years.

"We just like to watch the horses," Richard Brust said.

"It's not something you see every day," Josephine Brust added.

"And it's good for the children," said Richard Brust. "They don't get to see this kind of life anymore."

One of the younger riders, Victor McCormick, 8, of Hagerstown, said he likes being with the horses, but that all the riding was "a little tiring."

Rider Patti Kline, 42, of Falling Waters, W.Va., said: "It's a little wet, but that all goes with it. It gives you a feeling of what the settlers went through."

The National Pike played a role in the westward expansion of the country in the 19th century.

In 1797, Baltimore bankers and businessmen pushed for extending the Baltimore-National Pike, also known in Washington County as the Bank Road, to Cumberland, Md. In 1806 President Thomas Jefferson authorized the funds to further extend the road from Cumberland to Ohio.

"This is an educational tool," said Paulette Sprinkle, organizer of the wagon train. "We're trying to bring recognition to our (heritage) and to the impact this road made on the nation.

"This was one of the gateways to the west."

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