ASHLAND - Dozens of historic military vehicles will stop in Ashland Aug. 17 as they travel across the country along the Lincoln Highway, retracing the original 1919 US Army’s Transcontinental Motor Convoy route.
The Military Vehicle Preservation Association's 100th Anniversary Convoy will spend the night in Wooster and then enjoy a rest stop at approximately 8 a.m. Aug. 17 at the Ashland County Fairgrounds, where they will be greeted with water, coffee and donuts served by The Ashland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as members of the local American Legion and VFW chapters.
The MVPA 2019 Transcontinental Motor Convoy will launch from Washington, D.C. Aug. 11 and arrive in San Francisco some 37 days later, on Sept. 14.
Over 50 historic military vehicles are expected to travel the entire 3,200-mile coast-to-coast route, and another 50 vehicles will join in to drive a portion of the trip. About 68 are expected at the Ashland stop.
The convoy includes historic military vehicles of all eras, from World War I through current-issue. The vehicle roster includes everything from cargo trucks to Harley Davidson WLA motorcycles, staff cars and jeeps.
The convoy will follow the original Lincoln Highway route as closely as possible. Daily stopping points will be many of the same locations as the 1919 Convoy. The route crosses all or part of 11 states, joining the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg, Pa.
According to a press release from The MVPA, the route begins on the lowlands of the eastern seaboard, traverses the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, travels the lush farmlands of the Midwest, crosses the high plains, dips into the Great Salt Lake Basin in Utah, crosses the Nevada Desert, climbs the Sierra Nevada and descends to Lake Tahoe before ending in the splendor of California and the San Francisco Bay area.
The convoy welcomes the public to come out to meet the Convoy as it travels through the area.
With the cooperation of the Lincoln Highway Association, the MVPA hopes to draw attention to this early road system and to present the historical significance of both the original 1919 Convoy and the military vehicles present on the 2019 Convoy. The MVPA will take every opportunity to also say “thanks” to the nation's veterans.
In 1919, the U.S. Army decided to plan and execute a motor convoy of various vehicles across the country on the newly-formed Lincoln Highway. In general, the route began at the White House at Lincoln Park in San Francisco some 3,250 miles and 62 days later.
The convoy's objectives were to put the equipment through as grueling a trial as could be devised, study how the varying road conditions affected each branch of the service, serve as a transcontinental recruiting drive for the Army, demonstrate the need for good roads and say “thanks” to the American people for their support during WWI.
The convoy left Washington, D.C. on July 7, 1919 and arrived in San Francisco on Sept. 6 1919. At that time, the Lincoln “Highway” was a series of roads with conditions that ranged from poured concrete to tracks across quicksand, tracks across alkali mud and across bridges that gave way under the weight of these vehicles. The trip was grueling and the daily average was 59 miles per day and about 6 miles per hour.
The original convoy consisted of 81 Army vehicles, with 37 officers (including a young officer, Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower) and 258 enlisted men. Vehicles included the following: 46 trucks, 5 ambulances, 11 passenger cars, 9 motorcycles, 1 Maxwell caterpillar tractor, 2 ambulance trailers, 4 kitchen trailers, 1 pontoon trailer, 1 mobile searchlight and a huge recovery vehicle called the Militor.
For more information, contact the Military Vehicle Preservation Association at 1-800-365-5798 or visit the association's website at www.mpva.org and click on the Convoy button on the top of the page.