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1919 Army Convoy stops in Morgan

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There are some pristine sections of the Lincoln Highway in Morgan County.  Old Highway Road is a long continuous ribbon of that road. John Tripplett wrote about this in his article published in the MCN October 12, 2018. Another secluded segment is located above Taggart.  As you travel along this section you marvel at how narrow it is and think that semi-trucks traveled it along with family automobiles passing each other, in opposite directions, right next to the railroad tracks.  It is a venture back in history to drive this road. 

Earlier this year Becky and Dylan Taggart brought it to the attention of the County Historian that this section of the highway was not marked.  Historic Lincoln Highway signs were obtained from the Lincoln Highway Association with the help of Jess Peterson, Hugh Coltharp Lincoln Highway Association members and Linda H. Smith.  On August 15 2018 two signs were placed on this section of the historic road with the help of John Harrison, Morgan County Road Department.

Since Morgan had an important part in the army convoy that traveled the Lincoln Highway in 1919 I am providing some additional information to compliment Mr. Tripplett’s article. 

On July 7, 1919 when the First Transcontinental Motor Train pulled out of Camp Meigs, Washington D.C., no one had ever witnessed anything like it in the world, not ever the conveys during WWI.  There were 81 vehicles, 258 enlisted men and thirty-seven officers, seventeen commissioned officers including Dwight D. Eisenhower attached to the motor train as an observer.    

When the Convoy went through Morgan the area was described as,

“a blissfully beautiful little town tucked into fertile alpine meadows

under snowcapped peaks.  It had dressed in its finest to greet the army;

while the Female Relief Society of the Mormon Church served refreshments,

Bishop Anderson made a speech of welcome and presented (Colonel)

McClure (the expedition’s commander) with two keys –one silver from

the town, one gold from the state of Utah.  A band played, the streets were

lined with flag-waving schoolchildren, and the convoy was given half a

dozen cases of locally canned peas; these, apparently, were famously good.”

  American Road” Peter Davies 2002

Vehicles in the convoy included 46 trucks of all sizes and makes, two carried spare parts, one a blacksmith shop and two were complete mobile machine shops.  For fuel there were two tankers carrying 750 gallons of gasoline each.  One truck carried an equal amount of water.   The men couldn’t have made the trip without the four kitchen trailers and a full medical detachment.  One three-million-candlepower searchlight on a Cadillac chassis,  motorbikes, passenger cars for officers and the Militor were all included in the convey along with an artillery detachment.  The entire convoy was over 2 miles long.

The Militor became one of the most important vehicles on the entire trip.  It was equipped with a wrecker-winch and was equipped in every way to haul lamed or stranded vehicles out of the frequent mud bogs along a road that was sometimes barely wider than the trucks.  The Militor was put to work in Echo Canyon with stuck and lame vehicles.  It took seven hours to go forty-one miles from Evanston to Echo.   Much of the convoy had to bivouac in the canyon for the night.

On September 6, 1919 the convoy arrived in San Francisco 3,251 miles from the start in Washington D.C.

It was reported that all equipment arrived and there were no causalities on the trip.

The Taggart section can be accessed by taking the Taggart Exit, turn right and follow the narrow road, going under the Interstate Overpass.

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