Fresh off the Pike

National Pike Festival rolls through town this weekend

May 13, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • The National Pike Festival wagon train rolls over Wilson's Bridge over the Conococheague Creek in this 2008 photo.
File photo,

National Pike Festival will offer a sense of what road tripping was like back when Thomas Jefferson was still alive.

Starting Friday, May 14, in Clear Spring, the annual National Pike Festival will re-create the travel along National Pike and Old National Pike -- routes that were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as an alternative to traveling by river or on American Indian routes, said coordinator Laura Bowman.

The wagon train will end in Boonsboro on Sunday, May 16, with plenty of stops along the way.

A caravan of nearly 30 canvas-covered wagons and open buggies -- pulled by horses and mules -- will start the 32-mile trek along the historic National Pike and Old National Pike.

According to documents from the Maryland Historical Trust, that Baltimore-National Pike (called Bank Road back then) was extended to Cumberland, Md., and became part of the National Pike. President Jefferson signed the bill authorizing the construction of a road that would connect Cumberland, Md., to the Ohio River in 1806.


Thus, the national road was born.

National Pike was finished in 1818, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Bowman said counties in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio host similar celebrations along National Pike.

Here's what's happening at a few of the stops along the local National Pike Festival:

Clear Spring | Friday, May 14

Wagon train encampment -- 5 to 7 p.m. Plumb Grove, 12654 Broadfording Road. Free. Open to the public. Take Two Variety Band will perform Big Band-era, 1950s and 1960s rock and roll, blues and some patriotic tunes. There will also food to purchase from 5 to 8 p.m. by the Clear Spring Historical Society.

Saturday, May 15

National Pike Day Festival -- 6 to 9 a.m. breakfast at Plumb Grove. 9 a.m. wagon train departs. Activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; highlights include crafts, classic car show, antique tractor show, demonstrations, and free children's activities. National Pike Day Parade, 10 a.m. Bluegrass band Fertile Ground performs at 12:30 p.m. Clear Spring High School, 12630 Broadfording Road.

Hagerstown | Saturday, May 15

Pike Festival activities near Hager House, City Park -- Free pony rides, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Hager House will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wagon train encampment -- 4 p.m., Ralph Henderson's Ag Center, 510 Wilson Blvd., Boonsboro. Musicians, bonfire. The public is invited.

Boonsboro | Sunday, May 16

The final stop -- 1:30 p.m. Free pony rides will be provided for children at Shafer Memorial Park, where there will be other old-fashioned activities. Boonsborough Museum of History will be open.

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