National Pike Festival marks road's birth

  • The wagon train departs from Clear Spring's Plumb Grove mansion Saturday morning. The procession was part of the 22nd annual National Pike Festival & Wagon Train.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- McKenna Galvin feels "free" when she's riding her horse, Apollo.

If the 17-year-old Hagerstown girl has a bad day, a ride on her 23-year-old Tennessee walker "just wipes it away," Galvin said Saturday at City Park in Hagerstown.

Galvin arrived at the park on horseback along with several others who are taking part in this weekend's 22nd annual National Pike Festival & Wagon Train.

The procession of horse-drawn carriages, buggies, covered wagons, and men and women on horseback is slated to reach its final destination this afternoon in Boonsboro. The wagon train departed from Clear Spring's Plumb Grove mansion Saturday morning.

The festival celebrates Washington County's ties to the opening of the West via the nation's first federally funded road. Construction begun in 1811 in Cumberland, Md., and the road, now known as U.S. 40, was extended west to Vandalia, Ill., in the 1830s, according to the National Park Service.


Escorted by Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies, the wagon train arrived at City Park on Saturday about 2:15 p.m.

Galvin's mother, Mindy Galvin, said her uncle, Robert Shank, was one of the founders of the event.

"He would have loved to have seen her do this," Mindy Galvin said.

Gary Hill of Needmore, Pa., was enjoying every minute of his 12th wagon train, which he said he has done "just for the fun of it."

Hill was riding in a physician's buggy, which was pulled by Maggie, a 21-year-old American quarter horse.

"You couldn't have dialed in a better day," Hill said as the sun shined brightly and a soft breeze rippled the lake.

The wagon train's arrival was a pleasant surprise for Jacoby Moon and her 6-year-old daughter, Janyah.

"I just happened to bump into them coming to the park," the Hagerstown woman said minutes after the wagon train left the park about 2:45 p.m.

Moon's daughter said the horses were "cool," but "kind of scary," too.

Anne Catir, a resident of Hagerstown's West End, said the wagon train reminded her of the Canadian Exposition in Toronto, where she once resided.

"This is really exciting to me," Catir said. "I love it."

The 72-year-old said she would ride a horse if given the opportunity.

"At my age, what does it matter," Catir said, smiling.

If you go

The National Pike Festival, which begin Friday, concludes today. The following is a schedule of today's events.

o 10 a.m. -- Wagon train leaves Ag Center traveling east on Wilson Boulevard

o 10:30 a.m. -- Wagon train arrives at Ravenwood Lutheran Village on Kenly Avenue, then travel through Funkstown to Alternate U.S. 40 enroute to Boonsboro

o 12:30 p.m. -- Wagon train stops for lunch at Auction Square Complex near Boonsboro

o 1:15 p.m. -- Wagon train departs

o 1:30 p.m. -- Wagon train's final stop at Shafer Memorial Park in Boonsboro. Weather permitting, the wagon train will circle for 30 minutes before disassembling. There will be free pony rides for children and other activities. The Boonsborough Museum of History will be open.

For more information, go to

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