Pike Days are a comin'
More than 200 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson handed out some picks and shovels, expanded the federal budget by a hundred bucks or so and sent a survey team to build a road to Wheeling.
Apparently, he felt the need to play the slots.
The road, formerly a series of dirt paths, soon became known as the National Road. It was the first superhighway, connecting East to West, capable of supporting two wagons, side by side. The National Road brought travelers to the wild country, back in the day when Wheeling was the last outpost, the edge of the English-speaking Earth.
The pike, now known as Route 40, rolls past our farm. It's fascinating to think that, two centuries back, pioneers, driving teams of mules, took the same road that I now take to the mall.
Roadhouses and inns sprang up along the route in those first few years to wine and dine weary wagon riders. One of the more famous, the Century Inn, still serves a spectacular lunch and dinner in Scenery Hill -- duck l'orange, rack of lamb, peanut soup, salads served in edible cheese bowls. It's one of our favorites meal stops on a drive to the Laurel Highlands.
Jefferson's vision is honored each May with a weekend celebration called Pike Days. Up and down Route 40, in towns like Washington, Brownsville and Uniontown, Americans remember the spirit of the settlers by emptying our garages and basements, hauling some trash to the curb, sitting our belongings on card tables, attracting travelers to that last outpost to shell out hard-earned money for our junk.
I mean, our, er, collectibles.
Yeah, that's it. "Collectibles."
Pike Days, once started as a tribute to pioneers, has morphed in the last decade or so into the World's Largest Flea Market and Food Stand Gathering. Heed this warning: In just a few short weekends from now, all travel on Route 40 comes to a standstill. There will be bargains to be bought and deep-fried delicacies to be eaten -- bring your cash, your patience and your appetite.
I've heard that Jefferson himself picked up a used porch glider and a pulled-pork sandwich for $15.
Sally liked to glide.
If you, like I, like to snack-slum it on occasion, eating Band Booster Brownies, Little League Hoagies and Battered and Deep Fried Surprise-on-a-Stick while thumbing through a tabletop of 8-track tapes, Pike Days is right up your alley -- or route, in this case.
"This land," the first settlers no doubt thought, "with its bountiful blessings and pristine mountain streams, would be a wonderful site for a Kettle Corn stand!"
Thank goodness Jefferson had a little left over in his budget after purchasing Louisiana.
Maybe he picked that bargain up at Pike Days.
Hope he had a truck.
Pike Days, also known as the National Road Festival, takes place May 15 through 17.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hospitals, doctors in Pa. received $32M in 5 months from drug, medical device companies
- Rossi: Pirates plan to carry Hurdle deep into playoffs
- State trooper shot and killed during training exercise
- Knife-wielding man attacks 2 in Sheetz lot in Greensburg
- Steelers’ Tomlin does not like his coaching style to be characterized
- Penguins notebook: Malkin picture muddy
- NK grocery store robbed
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin bringing officials to practice
- Gorman: Lincoln Park charade over
- Pirates notebook: Martin feels ‘pretty good,’ will start vs. Giants
- Pittsburgh rises up for a 2nd year of Pirates magic