This past Tuesday, January 20, the Wheels Through Time Museum, Maggie Valley’s All-American Transportation Museum and top tourism destination, made its way to Washington, DC for the inauguration of our country’s 44th president. The museum, which was invited to participate in the Presidential Inauguration Parade in November of 2008, would attend the parade both in celebration of the swearing-in of our new president and in tribute to the 90th Anniversary of the 1919 Transcontinental Army Convoy on the Lincoln Highway.
On that cold and windy Washington, DC day, approximately 1.4 million people flooded the U.S. capitol city’s streets in what would become a record inauguration day crowd. Spectators lined 10 deep in places along the 1.5-mile parade route, which started on Pennsylvania Avenue and ended in front of the White House. This year’s parade would mark the largest inauguration parade in recent memory, with over 100 groups participating.
As part of the celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the United States Army’s first transcontinental motor convoy via the Lincoln Highway, the museum fielded a rare 1918 WWI Harley-Davidson sidecar outfit for the parade — a machine identical to the Harley-Davidsons used in the original convoy. "Having the opportunity to participate in a historic event of this magnitude is an outstanding honor," said museum curator Dale Walksler. "It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and we were happy to play a part."
Known as the "Main Street Across America" the Lincoln Highway was America’s first transcontinental highway, spanning from New York to San Francisco and stretching through 14 states and 500 cities and towns. It was in 1919 that the United States Army made the sixty-two day trip from Washington, DC to San Francisco, bringing with it over eighty vehicles and almost 300 men, making it the first coast-to-coast trip by a U.S. government entity.
In total, 6 vehicles participated in the 90th anniversary celebration during the parade, including Wheels Through Time’s 1918 Harley-Davidson, the "Spirit of the Lincoln Way" firetruck, operated by the anniversary organizer, Craig Harmon, and a 1917 Ford Model-T pick-up, to name a few. Each of the vehicles had a great reception, and despite their age, conquered the 1.5-mile, uphill journey from Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House without a hitch.
Steve Murphy of Eastern Maryland, operator of the 1917 Model-T pick-up, and a long-time visitor to the Wheels Through Time Museum, was thrilled to be a part of making history. "Being such a big fan of the museum, and of antique motorcycles and automobiles in general, it was great to see Dale again and to both play a role in this year’s inauguration." said Murphy. "I know we’ll have a great time sharing pictures and memories next time we get together."
For more information, visit the museum’s video website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com, or call the museum at (828) 926-6266.