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Hager House, railroad museum schedules on hold

Hagerstown works toward more interactive recreation programs

January 29, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown's Railroad Museum is a tourist destination in City Park.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The City of Hagerstown’s Parks and Recreation Department is going through some changes, and officials say the goal is to provide more interactive activities for people locally.

The recreation department is planning to have six adult sports leagues this spring, but the operating details of other attractions, such as the historic Jonathan Hager House and Railroad Museum at City Park are still being ironed out, newly hired Recreation Services Coordinator Andy Hoffman said last week.

Hoffman said the recreation department will host leagues for outdoor basketball, kickball, dodgeball, four-man flag football, Ultimate Frisbee and touch football, starting with kickball on March 12. Sign-up dates have not yet been decided, he said, but games will be held in the various parks around the city.

Hoffman said that offering local leagues will help keep in the area those who are seeking athletic activities, but people from outside Hagerstown also can participate in the weekly leagues for those ages 18 and older.

The recreation department also will host a community yard sale on April 14 and a grand opening of the new clubhouse at Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run golf course in the spring.

The recreation department is still working out the kinks with the Hager House and the Railroad Museum, which have had fewer visitors in recent years, according to Junior Mason, superintendent of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Right now, it’s really not getting the attendance that we would like to see,” Mason said last week.

About 1,500 people visited the Hager House last year, while about 800 went through the railroad museum, Mason said. Those figures were comparable to previous years, he added.

Members of the recreation department met Tuesday to discuss plans for the year, but scheduling obstacles remain with the Hager House and railroad museum, Hoffman said.

“Everything’s still on hold until we figure out what our dates are going to be,” Hoffman said. “We’re comparing dates and everything else.”

Combined with lower attendance, several conflicting events taking place at various times throughout the year are causing scheduling conflicts, such as Founder’s Day, Autumn Arts Festival and annual re-enactments held in September. Hoffman said the Hager House likely would move to a self-guided “museum-like” tour rather than the guided tour that previously was offered.

“But that’s still up in the air, too,” Hoffman said. “We’re in the process of developing some things to go with (those events). We have to redo the entire kids’ program, so we have to figure out which major events we’re going to be doing.”

Mason said the former curator of the Hager House resigned in November and no one has been hired to fill the position. Holiday tours of the Hager House this past season were held by appointment only, according to the city’s website. Normal operating hours were listed as 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays on select dates in December.

Bob Tracey, 69, of Inwood, W.Va., a longtime railroad enthusiast and part-time employee at City Park’s Railroad Museum, said the limited hours and access to the Hager House got him a little bit worried that similar appointment-only changes might be handed down at the rail museum.

“What’s going to happen to the oldest historic building in Hagerstown?” Tracey said last week of the Hager House. “I think that’s pretty crazy if they’re going to continue to keep that closed.”

Mason said Friday that the department has no plans to close either of the historic attractions.

The railroad museum, which features the 100-year-old Steam Engine 202, was open from May through October on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Tracey, who also works part time for the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the railroad museum had some busy weekends last season, during which about 250 people stopped in, including families with young children who were excited to climb inside the 200-ton engine and ring the bell.

“This is something I have a passion for and really enjoy,” Tracey said. “I really get a charge out of little kids coming in here that want to know about (the engine), and look at it and are overwhelmed with the fact that it’s so big.”

Tracey said a nonprofit group called The Friends of the 202 has been involved in trying to preserve the historic locomotive that was built in 1912 and ran from Hagerstown to Baltimore until 1952. The group would love to get the 202 back under steam one day, he said.

Hoffman said the recreation department has set up a Facebook page to keep residents up-to-date on activities and upcoming events. It can be found by searching for “Hagerstown Parks and Recreation.”

Spring adult athletic leagues.
The City of Hagerstown Parks and Recreation Department has announced its spring adult athletic leagues for participants 18 and older.

Those interested can register at one of the soon-to-be announced sign-up nights, on location at one of the events or at the department’s fairgrounds office from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Leagues are held the same day each week at the same location, and run for 10 weeks. Each participant receives a T-shirt and sponsor deals.

The leagues are listed below:
• Sundays — Outdoor basketball (Opening night: March 18, 6 to 10 p.m. at Fairgrounds Park)
• Mondays — Coed kickball (Opening night: March 12, 6 to 8 p.m. at Hager Park)
• Tuesdays — Coed dodgeball (Opening night: March 27, 6 to 8 p.m. at City Park)
• Wednesdays — 4-on-4 flag football (Opening night: March 21, 6 to 8 p.m. at Pangborn Park)
• Thursdays — Ultimate Frisbee (Opening night: March 29, 6 to 8 p.m. at Pangborn Park)
• Saturdays — Touch football (Opening night: March 31, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Park)

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