Wagon train rolls into Punxsutawney

TROUTVILLE — It will seem like the Old West this week when the Appalachian Wagon Train travels through the Punxsutawney area today and Wednesday.

The wagon train has been traveling throughout Pennsylvania since 1970 and travels anywhere from 12 to 20 miles per day.

Dick Stewart, president, said this is a family-oriented and church-oriented event, which is focused on a historical site or event that took place in the Appalachian regions of Pennsylvania.

The wagon train begins its trek every year on Fathers' Day, and its first stop this year was Dr. William Wise's farm on Route 410, Troutville, this past weekend.

Stewart said the wagon train will head to the Punxsutawney area at 8 a.m. today and arrive at the Punxsutawney Saddle Club in Albion this afternoon. The wagon train will then head to the Groundhog Plaza, where it may be publicly viewed from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The wagon train travels mainly on back roads, preferably dirt roads, Stewart said, adding that it is easier to travel on dirt roads for the wagons, horses and mules.

The wagon train, which has a membership of 150 families, travels with its own support, including chuck wagon, souvenir wagon, port-a-johns and water, Stewart said. And those who participate have done so for much of their lives.

When Stewart and his family first joined the wagon train nine years ago, they were accepted as if they had always been a part of it.

The host's campsites must be at least 10 acres in size in order to accommodate all of the wagons, support vehicles and campers, he said.
Anyone who would like to join the group is not required to have horses or a wagon. Instead, those interested may act as support personnel to those who have wagons, Stewart said.

There is much work to be done with everyone up by 6 a.m. every morning.
In addition to covered wagons, there are members who ride in buggies or horses, Stewart said.

After it makes its stop in Punxsutawney, the wagon train's next stop is at Dale and Eileen Smith's on Eileen Drive in Smicksburg, where it will camp through Sunday.

For more information, contact the Appalachian Wagon Train Association by writing Edith Crosby, secretary, 113 Meyers St., Ebensburg, PA 15931-1717.

The wagon train Web site is www.personal.wpa.net/~jvaughn/AWT/awt.htm. Or e-mail awtsiscrosby@aol.com.