Wagon train makes its way down National Pike

May 19, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

Motorists tried in vain to dodge horse apples as a line of traffic crawled behind an equine procession Saturday on U.S. 40 during the 19th annual National Pike Festival and Wagon Train.

Event participants dressed in period clothing and rode atop covered wagons to re-enact the way pioneers traveled west in the 19th century.

Sonny Lemon of Boonsboro said he has ridden in 17 or 18 wagon drives since the event started.

"I love 'em," he said. "This is part of our heritage. This is the way our ancestors went West."

Lemon said the train made five stops along the way to water and feed the horses and mules.

After camping Saturday night at Ag Center Inc. near Four States' Livestock Sales, the train is scheduled to depart this morning for Funkstown.

Wagon master Norman Mason of Martinsburg, W.Va., said about 100 people joined the wagon train, but thousands lined U.S. 40 to watch.


The wagons are personally owned by the participants, he said.

Mason said he bought his wagon, which was built in the late 19th or early 20th century, from a farmer who had allowed it to sink deep in the mud.

After pulling the wagon free, he said he began making repairs.

A man in Hagerstown fixed the wheels, and Mason laid a canvas over the top to block the rain, he said.

The horses seemed to be taking the trek well considering the temperature was in the low 70s, Mason said.

It seemed the spectators enjoyed the festival as much as the participants.

Dozens of residents west of Hagerstown took advantage of the increased traffic by turning their properties into vast yard sales.

People parked their cars on the side of the road to browse tables that were covered with, among other things, books, clothes, shoes and hedge trimmers.

John Geist, a retired teacher from Clear Spring, said he confiscated a relative's lawn to sell some of his unwanted property and wood carvings that he crafted from the wood of razed buildings.

"I did this last year, and we did pretty good," he said. "It's a pretty popular time for this area."

Diane Yost of Clear Spring said her husband stayed at home to tend their yard sale while she visited other ones.

"I just love yard-saling," she said. "I'm looking for primitive things, like birdhouses and benches."

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