Motor Convoy Retracing History
A convoy of more than 50 historic and modern military vehicles will pass through Mc- Connellsburg Sunday at about 8:30 a.m., and the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism is urging residents to come out and witness this historical re-enactment.
Chamber interim director Brenda Gordon is also asking residents along the Lincoln Highway parade route in Mc- Connellsburg to fly their flags as the convoy passes through the borough heading west.
The convoy marks the 90th anniversary of the original 1919 U.S. Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy, which was the first motorized convoy to cross the United States along the famed Lincoln Highway. The reenactment is organized by the Military Vehicles Preservation Association (MVPA) in conjunction with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
The MVPA 2009 Transcontinental Motor Convey will launch from Washington, D.C., on June 13 and will arrive in San Francisco, Calif., some 26 days later. On June 13, it will pass through Maryland, through the square in Gettysburg and stay overnight in Norlo Park, Fayetteville.
Sunday, June 14, the convoy will pass through the square in Chambersburg, over the mountain through McConnellsburg, lunch in Bedford and overnight in Greensburg.
Chambersburg retiree and history buff Harry Fike plans on traveling with the convoy for the whole 3,200 miles trip across the country. He will ride in an 1918 Dodge Army staff car owned by Sgt. Mark Ounan.
"I'm interested in the Lincoln Highway history, and I happened to see the business about this convoy," Fike said. "I decided to see if I could get a ride, and I did."
Since deciding to join the convoy for the summer journey, Fike has enjoyed reading a number of books on the original transcontinental trip and exploring the historical record of the first 1919 convoy.
The convoy Sunday will have military vehicles of all eras, from WWI through to current-issue military vehicles.
According to the MVPA, World War I is the first major war in which motorized transport was utilized. Before that, military transport was powered by steam, horse and mule. Shortly after the war, the new U.S. Army Motor Transport Command decided to demonstrate and test its new motor transport.
This would be the first motor transport convoy ever to cross the United States. The trip was also intended to study the impact of varying road conditions, demonstrate the need for good roads, recruit new enlistees and say "thank you" to the American people for their support during WWI.
To accomplish this, the convoy assembled an 81-vehicle "truck train" that departed from Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1919, under the command of Lt. Col. Charles W. McClure. Its destination was San Francisco via the new-formed Lincoln Highway.
Contrary to some accounts that the 1919 convoy was "under the leadership of Dwight David Eisenhower," he was a lieutenant colonel and had joined the convoy in Frederick, Md., as an observer.
The convoy entered the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg and arrived in San Francisco, an arduous 62 days later. The heavy vehicles experienced extreme difficulties in some places due to horrendous road conditions.
That trip, and Eisenhower's observation of the German Autobahn during WWII, was the basis for the creation of the Interstate Highway System during his presidency.
To San Francisco
June 13 to July 8
Convoy will pass through Fulton
County going west on U.S. Route
30 Sunday morning, June 14, traveling
through McConnellsburg at 8:30
a.m. About 50 vehicles for the 3,200
miles and 100 more joining for
short trips along the route. The historic
military vehicles will be from
Top speed: 35 mph
More information: www.mvpa.org