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.
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, 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.
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.
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.