APPALACHIAN WAGON TRAIN

History
P.O. Box 76, Norvelt, PA 15674


OUR HISTORY 1970-2010

From out of the past into the present comes the Appalachian Wagon Train. Originally organized in 1970 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Somerset County, it comes as an annual event to make the people aware of the historical sites and happenings that took place in the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania.

Now follow us from the past to the present..
Our original secretary, Miss Jean Kimmel, heard of some hardy souls who like our forefathers braved the weather and gave up the comforts of today's life and traveled by horseback and covered wagon over the back roads of our country. Jean wishing to be a part of historic events traveled with her mother, Mrs. Daniel Kimmel, and Miss Dorothy Lingenfelter to North Carolina, where they became part of the "Daniel Boone Wagon Train." They enjoyed themselves so much that in 1968 they and a few friends returned to North Carolina to travel once again with the train. As the wagon train spirit grew in Jean, she wanted to start a wagon train here in Somerset County. In October 1969, Jean Kimmel invited Ivy Moore, chief scout of the Daniel Boone Wagon Train to Somerset. All interested parties were invited to a meeting at the R.E.A. Building, where Ivy Moore told them of his wagon train. From that meeting the "APPALACHIAN WAGON TRAIN ASSOCIATION" was formed and plans were made for our first trek from New Baltimore to Ligonier.

1970-JUNE 8-13: The wagon train traveled from New Baltimore to Ligonier. All participants had a wonderful time and everyone enjoyed helping each other as brothers. It was such a success that immediate plans were made for the next year. There were 20 wagons that took part and 75 riders. The trip covered about 50 miles.

1971 - JUNE 7-13: Approximately 30 wagons and 75 riders made the trip from Ligonier to Bedford by way of Somerset. This trip was to help celebrate Bedford County's bicentennial and covered approximately 100 miles.

1972- JUNE 18-25: This trek was in honor of Cumberland's Heritage Days. We traveled from Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland. This trip was made under the worse weather conditions possible! This was the year of "Hurricane Agnes." There were 52 wagons that started this trip but only 19 finished. Our congratulations to these hardy pioneers. The trip covered about 87 miles. The chuck wagon was one of our new additions this year.

1973 - JUNE 17-25: The Westmoreland County Bicentennial was the point of the trek this year. The train started at Pioneer Park in Bakersville, Pennsylvania and traveled to Old Hannastown near Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Excellent weather and shorter mileage made the trip more enjoyable for everyone. Approximately 72 wagons and over 500 people, representing many areas of the country, traveled over a trail of about 50 miles.

1974 - JUNE 16-23: The train started at Pioneer Park Campgrounds near Bakersville, Pennsylvania. The trip covered 55.8 miles. We traveled from the campgrounds to Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, helping to celebrate their centennial. The weather was fair and rainy. There were 87 wagons and 250 riders participating in the event.

1975 - JUNE 15-22: From Pioneer Park to Blairsville, this was one of the most beautiful trips we have ever taken. The weather was sunny and warm. The mileage was good, only 51.5 miles. There were 84 wagons participating with about 600 pioneers reliving the old West. The welcome in Blairsville was heartwarming. The spirit of their Sesquicentennial was overwhelming.

1976 - JUNE 20-27: After more rain than the earth could absorb, our group heard the cry of "Wagons, Ho!" and moved out from the Somerset Historical Center bound for Connellsville, as part of our Nation's Bicentennial Celebration. More than 500 people participated; there were 72 wagons and many horseback riders. It was a great way to celebrate our nation's birthday.

1977 - JUNE 19-26: After a beautiful weekend in the setting of the good old days at the Historical Village in Bedford, the Wagon Train moved Northwest early Monday. Our destination, Johnstown for the Pennsylvania Summer Festival. Over 525 people and 79 wagons took part in the trek over the beautiful mountains.

1978 - JUNE 17-24: Somerset to Mt Pleasant. By asking God for His blessings everyday before we leave, we cannot fail to have a wonderful and fulfilling trek. With 75 wagons and over 600 participants we prairie schoonered over one of the best trails we ever had of approximately 55 miles. The weather was beautiful and so were the nowadays pioneers. We helped Mt. Pleasant celebrate their Sesquicentennial.

1979 - JUNE 17-24: Mt. Pleasant to Somerset. God's blessings were upon us every day of this wonderful and fulfilling trek. 69 wagons and 549 participants. "Prairie Schoonered" over the 55 mile trail. Celebrating Somerset's 175th anniversary with our Somerset friends was the perfect way to end a beautiful trip.

1980 - JUNE 15-21: From the Ebensburg fairgrounds in Cambria County to historic Salern Crossroads near Delmont in Westmoreland County. It was a beautiful trek. After a rainy beginning the sun smiled on 64 wagons and horseback riders, a total of 446 people, reliving our heritage. We assisted the Salem Crossroads Historical Society in the dedication of the Shields Farm.

1981 - JUNE 21-28: Historic Meadowcroft village was the starting point in Washington County, which was celebrating its Bicentennial. The 450 participants with their horses and 67 wagons encountered friendly, hospitable people along the way, crossing the Youghiogheny River into Westmoreland County where we enjoyed the Bell’s Mill Covered Bridge Festival. The first wedding of Wagon Train folks provided a perfect ending to a beautiful trek.

1982 - JUNE 20-27: From Waterford to Ebensburg, this was one of our most beautiful trips. The weather was sunny and warm. Approximately 450 people and 66 wagons, representing many areas of the country, traveled over a trail of about 85 miles.

1983 - JUNE 19-26: The wagon train of 450 people and 57 wagons started from Mammoth Park in Westmoreland County, stopped for a brief ceremony in Scottdale, and finished the trek at Uniontown in Fayette County. Everyone enjoyed the historical and scenic trails and the festive weekend helping Fayette county celebrate its 200th birthday.

1984 - JUNE 17-23: The wagon train, consisting of 51 wagons and 350 people, traveled over a trail of 60 miles, starting in Saltsburg and winding our way through the beautiful counties of Indiana, Westmoreland and Armstrong, ending in Kittanning to help celebrate Pioneer Days.

1985 - JUNE 16-22: The 350 people with their horses and 37 wagons, traveled through scenic trails in Jefferson County. We traveled from Coolspring to Punxsutawney  to help "Punxsutawney Phil" start his Groundhog Festival Week.

1986 - JUNE 15-21: The Wagon Train traveled from Mill Run to Norvelt with 350 people and 49 wagons. One brief rain, and the rest of the week held beautiful and sunny. Norvelt, the "Homestead of the 30's", celebrated its 50th anniversary and the Wagon Train received a warm welcome.

1987 - JUNE 21-27: From Dayton to Ford City, the 40 wagons and 300 travelers were given a warm, friendly welcome. Even during a hard rain, one little horseback rider sang, 'This is the day which the Lord hat made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." and everyone agreed that it was a wonderful trip. We were happy to join in Ford City's Centennial celebration.

1988 - JUNE 19-25: Mill Run to Saltsburg trek was during one of the hottest, driest summers that we have encountered. This was the first year in our history that we shortened our day due to extreme heat. There were 296 pioneers who traveled with the 43 wagons over the very beautiful trails.  God watched over our entire trip and made it possible for us to join with the people of Saltsburg and their Historical Society to celebrate their Sesquicentennial.

1989 - JUNE 18-24: Our trek began with a parade at Mahaffey and ended by parading through Johnstown to commemorate their 100th anniversary of the Johnstown Flood. There were 40 wagons with 250 people who traveled the 70 miles to help make a testament to the triumph of our American spirit-

1990 - JUNE 17-24: There were 300 people, 40 wagons and 3 buggies who traveled from Cookport to Albion. On Saturday, Punxsutawney Phil joined the wagon train in Punxsutawney to help celebrate Jefferson Counts Bicentennial Anniversary. Members helped to celebrate Mr. Wagon Train's 69th birthday during the week and escorted a wedding party out of Punxsutawney Saturday morning.

1991 - JUNE 15-22: The trek was kicked off with a parade to help celebrate Indiana Borough's 175th anniversary and ended parading through Apollo to initiate their 175th Septiquincentennial. A total of 292 persons traveled with the 49 wagons and 3 buggies on the 89 mile journey.  Although the weather was very hot and there had been a few horses during the week that suffered heat strokes, a good time was had by all.

1992 - JUNE 21-28: There were 272 brave and chilly pioneers and 38 wagons that enjoyed a parade and giant ice cream sundae in Marion Center to start us on our 97 mile trek to Armaugh. Although the week was damp and cold the sun was shining when we arrived to help Armaugh celebrate their 200th Anniversary. Mr. and Mrs. George Macartney traveled from Armaugh, Ireland to share in the Bicentennial Celebration.

1993 - JUNE 20-27: Our trip from Clearfield to Patton began with a parade in Clearfield as part of their waterfront festival and ended with a parade in Patton 92 miles later. We saluted Otis Plouse and helped Patton celebrate its Centennial. 232 members traveled with 36 wagons and 2 buggies.

1994 - JUNE 19-26: Our trek took us over many scenic back woods trails as we followed as close as possible our 1970 original trail from New Baltimore to Ligonier. We held dedication ceremonies at the hitching post which we donated at the Somerset Historical Society to commemorate our 25th anniversary. There were 354 people with 48 wagons and 3 buggies who joined the 75 mile ride. Boots Miller was honored as being on the first Wagon Train and having traveled with it every year, every day, all the way.

1995 - June 18-25: In celebration of Somerset County Bicentennial, we traveled 60 miles from Salisbury to Rockwood by way of Somerset. 291 participants, 43 wagons plus 4 buggies with 157 horses and mules made the trek, which began with a parade in Salisbury and ended with a community pig roast at the Gary Livengood farm in Rockwood. We camped at Boots Miller farm and stopped in Somerset for Bicentennial ceremonies.

1996 - June 16-23: From Salisbury to Old Bedford Village, 37 wagons and 5 buggies with 244 pioneers traveled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this reconstructed pioneer town.  The beauty of the countryside was dotted with an occasional log cabin dating from the mid 1800's.  We observed evidence of the recent havoc of the recent flooding in Bedford and Somerset Counties.  Our campsite at Shawnee State Park was lost to mud after recent rains fell on the already saturated field.  A parking area became our campsite.

1997 - June 15-22: From the Stiles farm at Dilltown, 33 wagons, 3 buggies and 252 pioneers departed for Ebensburg to celebrate the bicentennial of Ebensburg's founding.  On the trail they were treated to lunch at the Grange Hall in Chest Springs.  Upon arrival in St. Augustine, the wagon train members joined the celebration of the parish family for the sesquicentennial of the St. Augustine Catholic Church.  As it finally paraded into Ebensburg, the streets were lined with townsfolk who cheered its arrival.

1998 - June 21-28: We gathered for the trek in Salisbury and were soon much aware of the damages the spring tornados had done to this area.  The 218 participants with their horses and 34 wagons were soon winding the trails upward through Somerset County and stopping to enjoy the view at Mount Davis, all the while enjoying the scenery and beautiful display of blooming mountain laurel.  Our trek ended at the Livengood farm near Rockwood with lots of good fellowship.

1999 - June 20-27: From Homer City to Loretto, an 87 mile trek, we traveled with 33 wagons, 8 buggies and 47 horseback riders.  Everyone seemed to survive the very hot dry weather.  The trek ended with a parade in Loretto as part of their 200th anniversary marking their development by prince-priest Demetrius A. Gallitzen.

2000 - July 2-9: The Cumberland County 250th Anniversary trek was a real joy.  36 wagons, 6 buggies and 51 horseback riders were treated like royalty.  183 adults and 68 youth were involved.  From day one in Fort Hill to our final parade in Newburg, our reception was awesome.  It was a trek to remember.

2001 - June 17-24: From Friendsville, MD to West Newton, PA was quite a trek.  The first day we rode through three states, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  35 wagons, 5 buggies and one surrey, pulled by 71 horses and mules, 56 horseback riders, including 11 guests - 218 people in all - traveled through some sunny days and a lot of rain.  There were some awesome river crossings, but God got us safely across.

2002 - June 16-23: Armstrong County was our host for the 2002 trek.  We started in Ford City, where we had a great welcome.  There were 200 pioneers, 36 wagons and buggies.  108 horses and mules and numerous horseback riders that traveled to our final campsite at Dayton Fairgrounds.  Saturday we were invited to Smicksburg to participate in an Indian Pow Wow.  Fun was had by all.

2003 - June 16-22: The weather on our trek from New Lexington to Mt. Pleasant was trying, even on the toughest of our pioneers.  142 adults, 50 youths and 5 babies traveled the miles in a lot of rain and mud.  35 wagons and numerous horseback riders participated in the final parade to help Mt. Pleasant celebrate their 175th anniversary.

2004 - June 20-27: The 2004 trek from Clearfield to Brookville was quite an adventure.  205 adults and children, 32 wagons, 6 buggies and 48 horseback riders made the 81 mile trek.  It was a strenuous journey with a camp move every day and a real mix of good and bad weather, but everyone had a terrific time.  Our evening meals were provided every night by local organizations and we even had a square dance that was great fun.  We finished off the trek with a parade through Brookville and were greeted with a great turnout in their beautiful city park.

2005 - June 19-26: From Hanna's Town to Ligonier, 171 adults and 60 children made the trek in 2005.  Our first camp was historic Hanna's Town Fort.  The Sunday opening ceremony was well attended by a lot of visitors.  (We all like visitors!)  We had 39 wagons and buggies and 44 horseback riders that traveled to our final parade in Ligonier.  The reception there was wonderful.  The weather for the trek was unusually hot.   It took its toll on many of our participants.  We had a few minor mishaps but all went well.

2006 - June 18-25: Our week started out with a parade in Windber on Sunday to honor the coal miners and ended with a parade in Lilly celebrating their Bicentennial, 1806 to 2006.  The turnout by Lilly's residents and the hospitality shown the AWT was second to none.  Our trail committee got an A+ for all of their hard work.  Great job guys!  38 wagons and 32 horseback riders, 200 plus people, traveled 87.2 miles from Monday morning at 8:00 AM to the parade at Lilly on Saturday.  The back side of Lilly Mountain will be remembered by many for its long and very steep uphill climb.  As the saying goes when traveling with the Appalachian Wagon Train, "WORK YOUR HORSES."

2007 - June 17-24: Beautiful scenery, wilderness and steep hills are some of the things we will remember about the 2007 trek from Emporium to Benezette.  This was the first time we ever shared our field with a bull elk.  24 wagons, 4 buggies and 17 horseback riders were on hand for our trip through Cameron and Elk Counties.  The Cameron County Fairgrounds, PA State Gamelands and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation were our camp hosts.  Another great year on the AWT!

2008 - June 15-22:  A wet and soggy weekend started our trip at the Harmony Grange Fairgrounds in Westover.  29 wagons, 5 buggies, 149 adults and 41 children trekked on to the riddle Farm at New Millport, camping there for three days.  Cold weather with a few snow flurriescaused the souvenirwagon to sell out of sweat shirts.  On Friday, we continued on to the Loyal Order of Moose property in Curwensville for the weekend.  The wagon train survived an Indian attack and thunder storms, and all enjoyed seeing moose while travelling the 78 miles of our 39th annual trek.

2009 - June 21-28: Saturday the rain came!!  By the time everyone started arriving the 10 acre field we planned to park in was pretty soggy.  Our host spent most of the day and evening moving vehicles with the tractor. We spent three nights at Dixon Corner with Pat and Neil Davis as hosts.  We moved on to the Farmers Inn in the Sigel area with Kim Lucas and Bob Shriver as hosts.  On Friday we moved to the Alderton field in the Rosewood area hosted by Randy and Sandy Alderton and families. Saturday we paraded through Corsica.  We enjoyed good food, entertainment and beautiful trails.  Our hosts all say, "Ya all come back".

2010 - June 19-27: We gathered at the Bev Mandechek property just outside Lilly, PA.  We spent 3 days there enjoying beautiful rides.  On Tuesday we continued on to the McConnell farm outside of Chest Springs, PA.  Although we survived a severe thunderstorm, to which we lost a few awnings, we were blessed with a magnificent rainbow afterwards.  On Friday, we arrived at our final destination, the Satur farm in Janesville, PA.  This year we had over 150 participants.  We had approximately 35 wagons and buggies and many horseback riders.

 


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