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West central Minnesota sees history on the move at 35 miles per hour

The Military Vehicles Preservation Association rolled through the region Thursday on the old Yellowstone Trail with a convoy of 35 military vehicles. The convoy is on the way to conventions in Indiana and Ohio.

A 35-vehicle convoy of military vehicles put history on the move. The Military Vehicle Preservation Association is following the old Yellowstone Trail from Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Ohio for a national convention. On Thursday, July 29, 2021, the convoy made its way through Appleton, Montevideo, Granite Falls, Sacred Heart, Renville and Olivia in western Minnesota on the way to Hutchinson to complete the day. Here, the convoy turns onto U.S. Highway 212 on the east end of Sacred Heart. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune
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GRANITE FALLS — History was on the move Thursday, at a pace of 35 miles an hour.

A convoy of 35 military vehicles rolled through western Minnesota on Thursday, July 29, following the old Yellowstone Trail, most of which is now U.S. Highway 212.

"It's a great way to see the nation," said Bob Neely of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while participating in the Military Vehicle Preservation Association convoy. Neely is driving a 1985 Gulf War ambulance in the convoy. He is shown at the stop Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Granite Falls. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

"It’s a great way to see the nation,” said Bob Neely of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as he and members of the convoy stopped in Granite Falls for a lunch break at the American Legion post.

The convoy riders are all members of the Military Vehicle Preservation Alliance. They are on a three-week, 2,600 mile trip from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Conneaut, Ohio. From Aberdeen to Fond du lac, Wisconsin, the convoy will stick with the middle section of the old Yellowstone Trail, which is the nation’s first transcontinental road and originally connected Plymouth Rock on the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in Seattle, Washington.


Their plans are to attend an international convention of military vehicle collectors in South Bend, Indiana, before heading to their own national convention in Ohio.

The Yellowstone Trail segment on Thursday led the convoy through Appleton, Montevideo, Granite Falls, Sacred Heart, Renville, Sacred Heart and Olivia on the way to an overnight stop in Hutchinson.

“It’s history on the move,” said Dan McClusky, executive officer for the convoy during the stop in Granite Falls.

One of the more modern vehicles in the Military Vehicle Preservation Association convoy that rolled through west central Minnesota on Thursday, July 29, 2021, belongs to Paul Baptist of Kaukapakapa, New Zealand. Baptist is shown in a Model M1161 Growler that was made for the U.S. Marines Corps for a specific mission. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

The members use the annual convoy as an opportunity to show the military vehicles and tell of their history. The convoy included vehicles ranging from a World War I-era Dodge to a modern M1161 Growler made for the U.S. Marine Corps in 2012 and 2013. In between were everything from a Korea-era ambulance — as made famous on the TV show "M*A*S*H" — to a 20-ton truck from the Gulf War.

Most of all, McClusky said the convoy is all about honoring those who have served.

The organization is composed of people from all over the country, as well as two members from New Zealand. About one-half of the members are military veterans, he added.

This is the group’s seventh convoy since the first in 2009. The association has twice followed the Lincoln Highway from Washington, D.C., to California to mark the 75th and 100th anniversaries of the Army’s first transcontinental convoy. A young lieutenant by the name of Dwight Eisenhower made the Army’s original trip, according to McClusky. They’ve also followed Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, and the Broadhead Highway from Washington, D.C., to San Diego.


There has never been a vehicle that had to leave the Military Vehicle Preservation Association convoy due to mechanical problems, but there are plenty of repairs that need to be done on the way. The radiator fan on this vehicle got a look when the convoy stopped Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Granite Falls. A support vehicle with a trailer follows the convoy and will transport vehicles with mechanical problems to be repaired so they can rejoin the procession. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

The longest trip was a 4,000-mile, 28-day trip along the ALCAN Highway, which connects the contiguous United States to Alaska across Canada. That convoy included 75 military vehicles and another 20 support vehicles. The convoy was dropping about $20,000 a day into the economies of towns along the route for fuel alone, he said.

“Biggest thing most of these towns had ever seen,” he said, laughing.

West central Minnesota sees history on the move at 35 miles per hour

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