La PORTE — The Military Vehicle Preservation Association’s Transcontinental Motor Convoy is set to roll through La Porte on Monday.
The MVPA is conducting a 100th Anniversary Convoy across the United States in 2019, with as many as 70 historic military vehicles retracing the original 1919 U.S. Army’s Transcontinental Motor Convoy route along the Lincoln Highway.
On Monday the convoy will be leaving South Bend at 7 a.m., taking the original route through La Porte County on State Road 2.
In La Porte, about 60-70 old military vehicles are expected to stop at the La Porte County Fairgrounds, 2581 Ind. 2, between 7:30-8:30 a.m. The public is invited to stop by and view the vehicles. It will then continue along SR 2 through Pinhook and Westville before rejoining U.S. 30 in Valparaiso.
The MVPA 2019 Transcontinental Motor Convoy launched from Washington, D.C. on Aug. 11. It is set to arrive in San Francisco on Sept. 14. One of the highlights was departing the MVPA 44th Annual International Convention in York, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 10.
Organizers expect more than 50 historic military vehicles to travel the entire 3,200-pus-mile coast-to-coast route with more than 50 more joining in to drive a portion of the trip.
The convoy includes historic military vehicles of all eras, from World War I to current-issue vehicles. The roster includes cargo trucks to Harley Davidson WLA motorcycles, staff cars and jeeps to later model M913 5-ton cargo trucks.
The convoy will follow the original Lincoln Highway route as closely as possible. The route crosses all or part of 11 states from Washington to San Francisco, joining the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The route begins on the lowlands of the eastern seaboard, traverses the hills of Pennsylvania, travels the 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, and ends in the San Francisco Bay area.
Daily stopping points will be many of the same locations as the 1919 convoy. As the convoy passes through the towns along the route, the MVPA will take every opportunity to also say “thanks” to veterans.
In 1919 the U.S. Army decided to plan and execute a motor convoy of vehicles across the country on the newly-formed Lincoln Highway. The route began at the White House on July 7, 1919, and ended at Lincoln Park in San Francisco on Sept. 6, 1919.
The Lincoln Highway at that time was a series of roads with conditions that ranged from poured concrete to tracks across quicksand and alkali mud, often across bridges that gave way under the weight of the vehicles. The trip was grueling and the daily average was 59 miles and about six miles per hour.
This would be the first motor transport convoy – ever – to cross the U.S. The convoy had the following objectives:
• Put the equipment through as grueling a trial as could be devised.
• Study how varying road conditions affected each branch of the service.
• A transcontinental recruiting drive for the Army.
• Demonstrate the need for good roads.
• The unwritten objective was to say “thanks” to the American people for their support during World War I.
The 1919 convoy was staffed with 37 officers and 258 enlisted men – including then Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
More information on the convoy can be found at mvpa.org. The convoy can be tracked via social media on Twitter at @MilitaryVehicle and Facebook at facebook.com/MilitaryVehiclePreservationAssociation. The public can follow along live at https://tinyurl.com/y48jctnq.
Transcontinental Motor Convoy schedule (Travel times are approximate – allow an hour leeway)
Sunday, Aug. 18
7 a.m. — Leave Delphos, Ohio, stopping for breakfast in Van Wert, Ohio
10 a.m. — Enter Indiana via Townley, Zulu, and Besancon with a morning rest stop at Schnelker Memorial Park, New Haven. On through Fort Wayne to U.S. 33.
noon – Lunch stop at the American Legion in Churubusco, then on through Merriam, Wolf Lake, Kimmell, Ligonier, Benton, Goshen and Dunlap following original Lincoln Highway routing.
3 p.m. – Afternoon break at the Walmart in Elkhart, then on through Osceola and Mishawaka on Lincolnway/933
4-6 p.m. – Enter South Bend. Lincoln Way to Ironwood, then south to Fairgrounds. Overnight at St. Joseph County Fairgrounds.
Monday, Aug. 19
7 a.m. – Leave St. Joseph County Fairgrounds via Ironwood Drive to Lincoln Way
Follow Lincoln Highway through New Carlisle, Rolling Prairie, La Porte, Pin Hook, Westville, Valparaiso, Deep River, Ainsworth and Green Acres
noon – Lunch stop in Merrillville
Follow Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30) through New Elliott, Schererville and Dyer to state line