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Wagons head to Boonsboro

May 16, 2004|By CANDICE BOSELY

HAGERSTOWN

To the call of "Wagons Ho!" more than 20 covered wagons and buggies pulled out of a gravel parking lot at Hagerstown City Park Saturday afternoon, providing a melody of hoofbeats, bells and creaking wooden seats and leather.

The wagons, along with riders on horseback, are plodding along U.S. 40 for the 16th annual National Pike Festival. The three-day event ends this afternoon in Boonsboro.

National Pike, which evolved into U.S. 40, played a part in the westward expansion of the country. In 1797, Baltimore bankers pushed to have the road extended to Cumberland, Md. In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson authorized another extension, then to Ohio.

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At the park under warm, sunny skies, two sisters and their father were sitting at a picnic table as the wagons rolled by.

"I like watching the horses," said Natalie House, 10.

"And it is cool that it's covered wagons," chimed in her sister, Lucia House, 8.

The girls said the wagon train reminded them of the "Little House on the Prairie" books, which they both enjoy.

"When I grow up, I want to have a ranch," Natalie said before turning to her father, Joel House, and saying gleefully, "I saw a horse and it was yawning."

One wagon that caught the attention of many was a stagecoach, built by Jim Trail, 68, of Woodstock, Va.

Rex and Annie, two Belgian draft horses, pulled the stagecoach, which had lanterns on its sides and a small, faded American flag on the back.

Trail, who also built a covered wagon, said no particular reason drove him to build the coach, which had "Jim Trail's Coach Lines" etched on the door.

"Just the challenge, I reckon," he said. Because it required Trail to steam and bend wood, the coach was more difficult to build than the covered wagon, which was made using straight boards.

A week ago he used the coach to take high school students to their prom.

"They loved it," he said.

A smaller Amish-made buggy was being pulled by a pair of gray Appaloosas - a 26-year-old mare named Masumi and a 19-year-old gelding named B.T., or Blue Thunder.

Jack Barnsley, 70, said health problems may mean this is the last time he participates in the festival.

"I just enjoy the horses," he said. "When you ride along with the horse and look out at the country, you see things you don't see when you're riding in an automobile." Plus, "they (horses) don't talk back and they generally are real cooperative."

Barnsley, who has other Appaloosas, said it took just 30 minutes to break Masumi to pull a buggy.

"What makes a team is when everybody works together," he said. "Not just the animals, but the people, too."

Barnsley has been around horses for much of his life. His first memory is of him, around 4 years old, riding a horse. When his straw hat blew off and scared the horse, it bolted, but Barnsley was able to hang on for the ride.

Later, after his parents died, Barnsley lived with an old bachelor who was not too fond of modern technology. Until his death in 1959, the older man used horses to haul manure, plant corn and sow wheat, Barnsley said.

"He wouldn't have it any other way," he said. "He said the tractors went too fast."

Judy Myerly, 67, of Hagerstown, was one of the many spectators at the park. She used to ride horses at a friend's home when she was younger and said she still likes the animals.

"It's good to see some real live horses, especially on Pimlico today," she said.

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