Wagon train takes the slow road

May 17, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

CLEAR SPRING - After driving her own team of horses in 2005 and helping to drive a team last year that pulled her family in a covered wagon, this year 10-year-old Jo Baker will ride solo - on horseback - during National Pike Festival's 32-mile wagon train this weekend.

The Big Pool girl is handing the reins to the team of Percherons to her younger sister, Adriana, 8, says their father, Jamie Baker.

The Baker family has been involved with wagon train events for seven years. Driving the wagon can get tiring so, during past wagon trains, Jamie Baker would hand off the reins to Jo, who began driving horse teams when she was 6, he says.

Driving the team the past two years was fun because she was the youngest driver, Jo says. She says she's looking forward to riding Billy Boy, a Haflinger, in this year's wagon train because it will be the first time she's ridden solo in this particular wagon train.


The Bakers' covered wagon will be one of an estimated 30 wagons and buggies participating in the 19th annual National Pike Festival and Wagon Train, which departs Clear Spring on Saturday morning and arrives in Boonsboro on Sunday afternoon.

The event begins late Friday afternoon at Plumb Grove at the intersection of North Martin Street and Broadfording Road, says Laura Bowman, coordinator for the festival and wagon train. Plumb Grove is the new starting site for the wagon train and will host an overnight encampment on its grounds.

In addition to the wagons and buggies, about 30 horseback riders are expected for the wagon train, which draws spectators as it passes by.

The wagon train re-creates travel along a portion of National Pike, a route built around 1797 in Washington County to provide an alternative to traveling the Potomac River, animal paths or American Indian paths.

National Pike is an approximately 300-mile route from Ohio to Maryland that includes 32 miles in Washington County.

Traveling the pike the old-fashioned way is an incredible experience, says Jamie Baker, 37.

"It's like stepping back in time, the way it used to be. Everything slows down for a day," Baker says. "People drive up and down Route 40 every day back and forth to work. But you never see Route 40 until you do it 2 miles an hour."

And Ronald Sowers of Shepherdstown, W.Va., will get that chance.

After watching the wagon train for several years, Sowers, 73, will be joining it this year.

Sowers, his wife, Charlotte, and two friends will dress in period clothing and ride in a surrey pulled by the Sowers' Haflingers.

"I'm pretty excited. We've wanted to do it a long time," Sowers says.

Related events

A more detailed schedule is available online at For more information, visit the Web site or call the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 301-791-3246.

Some of the events scheduled around National Pike Festival include:

· Clear Spring's annual parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 19, from Clear Spring High School down U.S. 40 to Thompson Garage. Includes high school band, majorette corps, antique tractors and firetrucks.

· Spring Fest from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at New Life Christian Ministries, east of Clear Spring on U.S. 40. Children's games, food, puppet show, Maryland State Police helicopter, dance demonstrations. Live music, including Clear Spring High School Show Choir and Jazz Band. Activities include cow-milking contest, pit-crew contest and paintball shooting gallery. Free. Call 301-733-0307.

· FFA Alumni are hosting an antique tractor show, yard and craft sales, cow bingo, children's games and pet dress-up contest. 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 19, Clear Spring High School.

· Clear Spring Historical Society is selling soups, sandwiches and desserts from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and breakfast 6 to 9 a.m. Saturday at Plumb Grove to benefit the historical society.

· West Hagerstown Lions Club will sell breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Sunday, May 20, at Ag Center Inc. near Four States' Livestock Sales in Hagerstown.

· Boonsboro's Shafer Memorial Park, starting when the wagon trains arrives - approximately 1:30 to 2 p.m. Refreshments, square-dancing by Gad Abouts, and free pony rides.


Friday, May 18

5 to 7 p.m. - Overnight wagon train encampment Plumb Grove, intersection of North Martin Street and Broadfording Road. Public can visit the encampment.

Saturday, May 19

9 a.m. - Wagon train departs Plumb Grove, 12654 Broadfording Road, heading east along U.S. 40 and travels toward Hagerstown.

10:30 a.m. - Stop at Wilson's Store.

11 a.m. - Cross historic Wilson stone bridge (weather permitting).

11:45 a.m. - Huyetts Crossroads lunch stop.

2 p.m. - City Park, Hagerstown - arrive at north end of City Park at parking lot between museum and Hager House.

4 p.m. - Overnight encampment at Ag Center Inc. near Four States' Livestock Sales.

Sunday, May 20

10 a.m. - Wagon train departs, traveling east on Alternate U.S. 40 toward Funkstown.

10:30 a.m. - Ravenwood Lutheran Village, off Kenly Avenue, Hagerstown.

12:30 p.m. - Auction Square Complex lunch stop.

1:30 p.m. - Boonsboro Shafer Memorial Park, wagon train ends.

All wagon train times are approximate. Wagons are subject to unexpected delays.

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