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Traveling at a slower pace

Wagon train is reminiscent of days gone by

Wagon train is reminiscent of days gone by

May 13, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Barry Lescalleet drives a tractor-trailer for a living.

"I have to deal with the road all the time," he said in a phone interview.

This weekend, the Jessup, Md., resident will be dealing with the road - the National Pike - at a much slower pace.

Lescalleet, 45, is lead outrider for the 15th annual National Pike Festival & Wagon Train which begins Friday, May 14, on the American Legion grounds in Clear Spring.

Aboard his 17-year-old quarter horse gelding, Peppy, Lescalleet will ride ahead of about 25 buggies and wagons, watching for traffic at crossroads and making sure everyone in the wagon train has what they need.

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The horse- and mule-drawn vehicles will travel about 40 miles of the Washington County part of the highway.

The Washington County weekend is part of a 300-mile event in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio with some celebrations taking place this weekend, others on different weekends, Laura Bowman said. She helped to establish a nonprofit foundation - James Shaull Wagon Train Foundation Inc. - that joins Washington County in presenting the festival. The foundation honors her friend, the late James Shaull, who worked his Belgian horses on his Sharpsburg Pike farm and participated in the annual wagon trains. Shaull died in a tractor accident shortly after the 2000 Pike Festival.

In the National Pike's heyday, travelers stopped to rest the horses and themselves about every three hours or 12 miles. There are about 12 miles to each stretch - Frederick to Middletown, Md., Middletown to Boonsboro and Boonsboro to Funkstown.

Twenty-first-century stops include overnight stays Friday in Clear Spring and Saturday at the Four States' Livestock Auction grounds off Wilson Boulevard in Hagerstown.

On Sunday morning, the wagon train will make a brief stop at Ravenwood Lutheran Village.

"If it's a beautiful day, the residents just love it," said Greg Lescalleet, facilities manager. A lot of the people grew up on farms, and seeing the horses gives them a chance to reminisce, he said.

He'll get to see his brother, Barry. Their late father, Charles Lescalleet, used to participate in the wagon train with his horses.

Barry Lescalleet continues to ride with the festival because he loves the people. Weather doesn't matter. If there was a wagon train to the West Coast, "I'd go," he said.

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