Carson City is so full of amazing history that sometimes it boggles the mind. As we have always asserted, the true history of Nevada was made right here in Carson City and from time-to-time, we are reminded of our rich heritage.
One of those reminders will be evident once again on Thursday to commemorate the centennial celebration of the arrival of then-Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower who joined the convoy to test the shape of America’s roads and military vehicles as part of the first U.S. Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy that started in Washington, D.C. and ended in San Francisco. The first Transcontinental Motor Convoy came through Carson City in 1919.
The non-profit Military Vehicle Preservation Society Association left York, Pennsylvania on Aug. 10 to travel to Washington to recreate the historic route and will stop at the Nevada State Railroad Museum around 11 a.m. on Thursday to enjoy a brief stop and lunch served by the Carson City Elks Lodge #2177 before they resume their trek to San Francisco. The convoy will be escorted from the Lyon County/Carson City line by the elite Carson City Sheriff’s motorcycle team to the museum. The convoy of about 40-50 military vehicles can be viewed along Highway 50 and then on Carson Street. The patrol will block the traffic allowing the vehicles to receive green light treatment from William Street to Fairview.
The Lincoln Highway was the first memorial dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln, beginning at Times Square in New York City and ending at Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The highway was officially dedicated on Oct. 31, 1913 and inspired by the Good Roads Movement, which was very similar to today’s Complete Streets concept
Parts of the original Lincoln Highway do not exist today; other parts became portions of bigger highways. In Nevada, the Lincoln Highway — today known as “The Loneliest Road in America” — begins at Great Basin National Park and splits in Fallon where there is a choice to two routes: Donner or Pioneer. The Donner route runs along Interstate 80 through Donner. The Pioneer Route was once the stagecoach route that ran through the Sierra between Carson City to Stateline. Today, that route can be found at the end of King’s Canyon and is a biking/hiking trail and Highway 50 is a state highway to Lake Tahoe.
Eisenhower traveled along the Pioneer Route and found the going rather rough. In fact, most of his journal entries depicted the west as difficult to travel due to lack of paved roads that slowed the convoy. At the Arrowhead I-580 interchange, the metal art recreates the scene and one can almost feel Eisenhower’s frustration as he surveys the vehicles stuck in mud.
It’s no wonder that when Eisenhower became president he was instrumental in convincing Congress to pass the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1958 to build reliable highway systems coast to coast. His model was the autobahn in Germany where he served in World War II as a five-star general in the U.S. Army and supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. The original convoy traveled at about 5 mph and took 62 arduous days. This is the fifth convoy for the Military Vehicle Preservation Association.
The public is invited to view the historic military vehicles of all eras between 10 a.m. until noon at the Nevada State Railroad Museum or along the route. The event has been dubbed “the longest 4th of July parade In the country.”