Museum exhibit marks 100th anniversary of transcontinental motor convoy
COLUMBIANA — A new exhibit is on display at the Columbiana Log House Museum this year, and it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the transcontinental motor convoy that stopped at the Firestone Farm Homestead in July of 1919.
The military vehicle convoy began in Washington, D.C., in early July and ended in San Francisco in September of that year. It covered the area of what would later become the completed Lincoln Highway, with Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower as second in command.
The purpose of the convoy was to show off the military vehicles that were purchased through Liberty Bonds and also recruit more men for the Army.
Nora Salmen, curator of the museum, said that because the highway was not yet completed, the convoy traveled over muddy, rocky terrain that wasn’t always comfortable.
“It was horrible conditions. They traveled over mountains and bridges that would collapse,” she said.
As a result, the trip underscored the need for better roads, leading to the Eisenhower Interstate System.
Salmen and historical society member Monica Detwiler began putting the exhibit together in January, using photographs and information to display from the book “American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age” authored by Pete Davies.
The two also outfitted mannequins in the display with military uniforms and dresses from that era, which would have shortly after the end of World War I.
One of the mannequins features the original dog tag of area resident Howard Dishong, who served as a private in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War I. Dishong passed away in 1956.
Salmen said the historical society wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the convoy and the influence that local native Harvey S. Firestone had on the endeavor.
Firestone provided his own Firestone Co. tires for some of the military vehicles to use on their miles-long 62-day journey to the west coast, and treated Eisenhower and other officers to a dinner at the homestead.
According to Davies’ book, the two-mile-long convoy consisted of 300 men and 81 vehicles ranging from trucks, cars, motorcycles, ambulances, machine shops and mobile kitchens.
“This trip was an adventure, circus and war game wrapped into one. As road conditions worsened it became a daily battle of sweat, labor, guts and determination. Many times there were no roads,” Davies wrote in the book.
A re-enactment of the convoy is scheduled for this August, similar to what was done 10 years ago for the 90th anniversary, Columbiana American Legion Chaplain Ken Rambo said.
The convoy is being conducted by the Military Vehicles Preservation Association and will include an overnight stay in East Palestine and a breakfast at Firestone Farms in Columbiana, which is what was done during the original convoy in 1919.
The convoy will arrive in East Palestine on Aug. 14 and have breakfast in Columbiana on Aug. 15, departing there and traveling through Salem on its way to Alliance, Rambo.
In addition to the display celebrating the convoy, the Log House Museum also has a new Indian exhibit and new doll display as well. The museum will open to the public June 1 and will be open every Friday and Saturday from 2-4 p.m. June through August, and during the Columbiana Street Fair.