Following in the footsteps and tire tracks of the original 1919 cross-country route on the infamous Lincoln Highway, a band of 75 history buffs drove over 50 historic military vehicles across the United States to commemorate the centennial of the Army transcontinental motor convoy.
The convoy stopped for lunch in Galt on Friday, Sept. 13 and was greeted by Galt area residents waving American flags provided by the Galt District Chamber of Commerce.
The visitors displayed their vehicles on Fourth Street before heading off to lunch in the Estrellita Ballroom.
Just as the original convoy began its trek from Washington, D.C., so did the re-enactment this year. The convoy traveled approximately 200 miles a day, taking just over a month to complete the trip.
After their visit in Galt, the convoy headed south to Stockton where they spent the night at the Stockton Fairgrounds, ending their quest at Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
Dedicated in 1913, the Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental roadway, covering over 3,000 miles coast to coast.
The highway transformed many cities and towns along its route, including Galt, shifting the center of commerce from the railroad on Fourth Street to our existing Lincoln Way, an original Lincoln Highway roadway.
After World War I, U.S. officials reportedly wanted to find out how quickly the military could cross the country in the event of a war on American soil.
The original convoy set off in the summer of 1919 with a young Army officer named Dwight Eisenhower.
According to the Lincoln Highway Association, many lessons were learned on the monumental trip. Military vehicles proved to be too heavy to cross bridges designed for passenger cars, resulting in the need for temporary bridges to enable river crossings.
“Eisenhower also learned the importance of good roads, not only for civilian travel, but also for national defense, as it is imperative for the armed forces to be able to move quickly and efficiently to provide this important function,” the association’s website reads. “This knowledge was reinforced again during World War II, when Eisenhower saw the great roads the Germans had on which to move their war machine. From these experiences came today’s Interstate Highway System, which had its start during Eisenhower’s presidency in the 1950s.”