Model A drivers motor across country via the Lincoln Highway
By Deborah A. Brehun
Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Nearly 300 people traveling in 140 vehicles, from 28 U.S. states and Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Norway and Russia are participating in a driving tour along the Lincoln Highway to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first transcontinental highway in the United States.
Two tours started simultaneously the last week of June in New York City and San Francisco. It took one week for both to reach the Lincoln Highway's midpoint in Kearney, Neb.
Members of the California-based Model A Touring Club didn't stop at Nebraska, however. They wanted to drive the entire Lincoln Highway, from California to New York.
A dozen of those vintage vehicles passed through the Ligonier Valley on Aug. 11 — some who started out on the journey from San Francisco and others who joined the tour along the way.
“They are living the dream of actually driving the historic Lincoln Highway at a leisurely pace and taking in the culture of different regions of the United States,” said Olga Herbert executive director of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. “Some of the other cross-country tours that came through our region resembled Cannonball Run. The Model A Touring Club group was very interested and impressed in what we have done in Pennsylvania to promote the Lincoln Highway. I really enjoyed speaking to their group and hosting them at our Lincoln Highway Experience.”
Lee Chase, 84, of Los Angeles has been touring with his Model A Ford since 1946, taking in trips along roadways all over the country including Alaska and several excursions in Europe.
“Every year we try to do one big one,” he said. “We better get it under our belt before we get too old to ride. ”
Although his car broke down, he said he was determined to go all the way to New York and is riding with friends in a rental car.
Janet and Ralph Miller brought a 1930 Model A Ford pickup truck to the mainland from Honolulu for the trek. Unfortunately, it broke down in Utah and they too had to rent a car for the remainder of the trip.
“Every year we do a trip with the Model A Club. We've been to Australia and New Zealand with our Model A,” she said. “There were 70 cars when we started in San Francisco on June 23. One was the Packard that Henry Joy drove.”
The Lincoln Highway was the idea of Indianapolis Motor Speedway founder Carl Fisher, who, with help from Frank Seiberling — president of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and Henry B. Joy — president of Packard Motor Co., established a road stretching 3,380 miles from New York City to San Francisco.
Allen Stafford of Canberry, Australia, has been touring since 1982 with two Model A Fords — a 1930 sports coupe and a 1931 Phaeton. He said he was traveling as a passenger on the U.S. tour because it is getting too expensive to ship his own cars these days. Stafford and Chris Gallagher of Downer, Australia, said they are most looking forward to visiting the Gettysburg battlefields.
“On this Lincoln Highway Association tour, I learned so many historical aspects and learned about the importance of this road and the people associated with it,” said Ross Milne of Brampton, Ontario.
Jack Wright of Philadelphia was looking forward to stopping at the Flight 93 Memorial and visiting Gettysburg. There he hoped to find his great, great-grandfather's name (Lt. Benjamin Wright) on the Pennsylvania monument.
“This is a tremendous highway. We have been following the Lincoln Highway markers along the way. It has been an historical experience.”
The centennial tour group plans to end the trip in New York City on Aug. 14.
“Most people think we are crazy,” said Chase. “To us, it's an awful lot of fun and it's educational.”
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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