Lincoln Highway Days is a very special time for the Nevada community. This year will be extra special for several reasons.
First off, most events will be moving back to their longtime home at the Story County Fairgrounds in Nevada. Second, the Nevada Community Rodeo will be back for its second year since re-emerging with a bang last year. Third, just like that old C.W. McCall song put it, “We got a little convoy.”
If you haven’t heard about it already, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) will be making a stop in Nevada during its 100th Anniversary Convoy across the United States.
As luck would have it, the MVPA 100th Anniversary Convoy, from Aug. 10-Sept. 14, perfectly coincided with Nevada’s Lincoln Highway Days celebration. On Saturday, Aug. 24, from 8-9:30 a.m., the military convoy’s up to 70 historic military vehicles will be on display in the Central Elementary School parking lot, before joining in the Lincoln Highway Days parade, and then making their way out of town from the parade route.
If you want to see the historic collection up close, you will have to get up early and do so before the parade.
The MVPA convoy is a transcontinental motor convoy of the United States Army along the historic Lincoln Highway. It launches from Washington, D.C., Aug. 11 and is scheduled to arrive in San Francisco 37 days later.
According to a press release about the convoy, the vehicle roster for the trip includes cargo trucks through Harley Davidson WLA motorcycles, staff cars and jeeps to later model M913 5-ton cargo trucks.
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 in Washington, D.C., and ended at Lincoln Park in San Francisco, Calif. — some 3,250 miles and 62 days later. This would be the first motor transport convoy ever to cross the U.S. It had the following objectives:
1) Put the equipment through as grueling a trial as could be devised.
2) Study how the varying road conditions affected each branch of the service.
3) A transcontinental recruiting drive for the Army.
4) Demonstrate the need for good roads.
5) … and the unwritten objective was … to say “thanks” to the American people for their support during WWI.
That original convoy left Washington, D.C., on July 7 and arrived in San Francisco on Sept. 6. 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, about 6 miles per hour.
The original convoy consisted of 81 Army vehicles with 37 officers (including young Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower) and 258 enlisted men.
The vehicles on the original trek 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 searchlight and the “Militor,” a huge recovery vehicle.
In addition to Nevada, other Iowa towns where the vehicles will actually make stops this year include DeWitt, Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Jefferson, Denison and Council Bluffs.