Military convoy

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association will conduct the Transcontinental Motor Convoy this summer. The convoy will stop in Clinton on June 21 for two hours, giving residents a chance to view the vehicles along Riverview Drive.

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CLINTON — This summer, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association will pass through Clinton as they conduct a 2009 Transcontinental Motor Convoy along the Lincoln Highway. This trip will begin in Washington D.C. and will end in San Francisco.

This 90th anniversary convoy will include as many as 150 historic military vehicles and will retrace the original 1919 U.S. Army’s Transcontinental Motor vehicle route. The MVPA is working in conjunction with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the convoy, as well as Lincoln’s 200th birthday. This 26-day convoy will depart from Washington D.C. on June 13 and arrive in San Francisco on July 8.

The motor convoy will go through Illinois and Iowa from June 20 to June 23. The convoy will stop for lunch at the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Ill. on June 20, and continue on to Rochelle, Ill., where the convoy will stop for the night. On June 21, the convoy will stop in Clinton for lunch and then continue on to Cedar Rapids where the group will spend the night. Other Iowa towns being visited on the trip will be Marshalltown, Jefferson and Denison.

Heather Hilgendorf-Cooley, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been working with the MVPA for the convoy’s two-hour stay in Clinton. The convoy will come into town around 11:30 a.m. on June 21. Hilgendorf-Cooley said the CVB intends to close Riverview Drive and have the military vehicles lined up for people to view.

“What better place to showcase vehicles than right on the river front,” said Hilgendorf-Cooley.

Hilgendorf-Cooley said a lunch will be catered for those participating in the convoy, while the public will be welcome to stroll along Riverview Drive and look at the various military vehicles.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to work with these people (the MVPA) and help them showcase their vehicles in Clinton,” said Hilgendorf-Cooley, adding, “It is a rich part of our history.”

More than 50 Historic Military Vehicles will travel the entire 3,200-mile coast to coast route for the MVPA 2009 Transcontinental Motor Convoy, with more than 100 more vehicles joining in to drive a portion of the trip. The convoy will follow the original Lincoln Highway route from 1919, as closely as possible, crossing all or part of 11 states.

In 1919, the U.S. Army planned and executed a motor convoy of various vehicles across the country on the then newly-formed Lincoln Highway. The convoy was planned in order to put the equipment through as grueling a trail as could be devised and to study how the various road conditions effected each branch of the service. The convoy also was planned as a transcontinental recruiting drive, to demonstrate the need for good roads and to say thank you to the American people for their support during World War I.

According to a release from the MVPA, the 1919 trip was a grueling experience with the daily average of 59 miles per day and approximately six miles per hour. At that time, the Lincoln Highway was a series of roads with conditions ranging from poured concrete, tracks across quicksand and across bridges that would give away under the weight of the vehicles.

This trip was the first motor transport convoy ever to cross the United States. This convoy included 81 Army vehicles, 37 officers and 258 enlisted men. The vehicles included 46 trucks, five ambulances, 11 passenger cars, nine motorcycles, one Maxwell caterpillar tractor, two ambulance trailers, four kitchen trailers, one pontoon trailer, one mobile search light and a large recovery vehicle called the MILITOR.

For more information on the 2009 Transcontinental Motor Convoy or for a complete schedule for the trip, visit Mvpa.org or call the MVPA at (800) 365-5798. For more information concerning the convoy’s stop in Clinton, contact Hilgendorf-Cooley at the CVB office at 242-5702.