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Wagons roll to recall historical road

May 15, 2008

Laura Bowman is praying for good weather this weekend, but, come what may, she's ready to ride.

Bowman will be part of the wagon train celebrating the 20th annual National Pike Festival rolling through Washington County on Friday, May 16, through Sunday, May 18. The train will gather Friday night at Plumb Grove, a historic stone house west of Clear Spring, and travel along U.S. 40 to Hagerstown on Saturday and along Alternate U.S. 40 to Boonsboro on Sunday.

The wagon train re-creates wagon and horse traffic on the Washington County portion of the National Road, one of early America's major trade and migration routes. The National Road, funded by the young government of the United States, stretched west from Cumberland, Md., to Wheeling, Va., now a part of West Virginia.

Bankers in Baltimore funded an eastern extension of the National Road from Cumberland to Baltimore. The portion through Washington County was built in the 1820s. It included America's first hard-surfaced road, running 10 miles between Boonsboro and Hagerstown.

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This weekend's wagon train commemorates the road's impact on America. Two stagecoaches will join the wagon train this year, Bowman said.

The public is invited to meet with wagon drivers Friday night at Plumb Grove and at most stops along the route.

-- Chris Copley

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