A cross-country road trip takes just a few days at today’s pace, but imagine how long it took 100 years ago.
The 1919 Motor Convoy
In 1919 the U.S. Army’s first motor convoy set out from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco along the Lincoln Highway. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of that trip, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association embarked on the very same path.
“They set out to do this convoy to assess the possibility of moving an army from one side of the United States to the other. And back 100 years ago there wasn’t much on the roads and it was tough going for them. It took them 65 days and it’s going to take us 35 days,” explained Peter Haigh from the MVPA’s New Zealand chapter.
The 2019 Motor Convoy
Cantigny recently welcomed the convoy of historic military vehicles, including trucks, ambulances, jeeps, and motorcycles.
It was a pit stop about a quarter of the way through their 3,000-mile journey.
“At 25 miles an hour you get to see a lot of the United States of America that you don’t see on the Interstate at 70 miles an hour,” added Haigh.
Pit Stop at Cantigny
And while the owners talked about their vehicles legacies, they got to learn about Cantigny’s too.
“We do have two vehicles here, including one of ours, that would have been vehicles in the original convoy 100 years ago,” said Ian Richardson, the historic vehicle program director at Cantigny’s First Division Museum. “We have the 1918 Dodge Touring over there, which is an actual military model that’s been restored and in great shape. And then we have our Class B standardized military truck; it’s called a Liberty Truck for short. And ours is a 1918 and there was 22 of those on the convoy.”
About the MVPA
Each vehicle has been restored and maintained by its national and international owners from the MVPA.
“And we have a really good group of individuals,” said Allen Foley, the president of the MVPA’s Northern Illinois chapter. “We’re pretty tight nit. And we help each other out. If someone’s looking for parts we help. Vehicles – we’re always on the lookout. When we’re driving around we’re always looking for something green and rusty everywhere we go.”
Aside from the love for military motors, the camaraderie built among the group makes the transcontinental trip all worth it.
Dan Seaborg, a member of the MVPA California chapter, wrote a poem about just that:
“Whenever I get lonesome
I just hold a grand review
Of people, places, and military vehicles that I knew
I can hear the songs and stories
Feel the campfire blaze
As I relive the glory
of my grand old convoy days
The Last Stop
The convoy is slated to arrive in San Francisco by September 14.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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