Revitalizing the road for economic development, tourism

During the summer of 2009 the Military Vehicle Preservation Association staged a recreation of the 1919 military convoy that crossed the United States on the Lincoln Highway after the end of World War I to demonstrate its mobility and the necessity of good roads in national defense. The 2009 MVPA convoy traveled through and stopped at the Denison Armory (the first convoy had stopped at Washington Park). Fifty-seven vehicles and their accompanying servicemen were part of the first convoy, which included Dwight Eisenhower who would later become president and initiate the interstate road system in the 1950s. Photo by Bruce A. Binning

From 50 to 70 vehicles of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) will arrive in Denison this Saturday at about 6:30 p.m.

The MVPA is reenacting the 1919 Motor Transport Convoy that traveled 3,251 miles along the Lincoln Highway, from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, California, in 62 days.

Crawford County Tourism Coordinator Blair Weigum encourages area residents to greet the convoy as it arrives in Denison.

“This will be something amazing to see,” she said. “It would be great to make them feel welcome and let them know how excited we are to have them here.”

The convoy will enter Denison on Highway 30 and travel up Main Street. The vehicles will turn at city hall and then head down Avenue C to the fairgrounds.

Weigum would like to have residents line the route through the business district.

Evan Blakley, executive director of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County, suggested that residents make welcome signs and wave American flags as the convoy passes by.

Weigum encouraged anyone interested in the convoy to visit the vehicles and their owners at the fairgrounds.

Many of the travelers will spend the night there. Others will eventually go to local hotels.

“Head out and talk to them and ask questions while they are here,” Weigum said.

The 1919 convoy crossed the country at a time when the Lincoln Highway barely existed.

It stopped in Denison on Saturday, July 26, 1919.

The vehicles were covered with dirt from the long drive, but appeared efficient and powerful, according to a Denison Bulletin story.

The convoy camped overnight at Washington Park in Denison.

Thousands of people, from Crawford County and adjacent counties, visited Washington Park during the afternoon and evening to look at the vehicles.

One of the leaders of the convoy was a Lieutenant Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would later oversee the creation of the Interstate Highway System.

Weigum said residents should take advantage of the visit by the MVPA convoy to learn more about the historic 1919 convoy.

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