Museum director drives 1964 fire truck from New York to San Francisco
Trip is to raise support for 90th anniversary of the Old Lincoln Highway
By Jamie Trump, Journal Staff Writer
Craig Harmon's determination to see all 450 towns located on Old Lincoln Highway, which runs from Times Square in New York to San Francisco, brought him to Auburn last weekend and Rocklin Monday.
The 46-year-old has been following the highway since Sept 5 in his 27,000-pound, 1964 Maxim fire truck he calls "The Spirit of the Lincoln Way." He said he only has a few towns left before he completes his 3,500-mile journey to San Francisco by July 4.
He plans to stop in Roseville today.
Harmon, who is the director of the Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives in Galion, Utah, said the point of his journey is to raise awareness of the route, kindle support for the 90th anniversary of the highway's dedication and the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the former president for whom it was named.
Although Harmon's original plans were to finish his mission in 62 days, which would have been last year, Harmon said he's having fun. He originally left home with only a sleeping bag and about $1,000. To make ends meet, he has slept in many fire stations along the way and city officials have helped fill his gas tank.
"It's my unfinished journey," Harmon said in a phone interview Monday from the Rocklin Fire Department. "I want to be able to document my experiences in every community on the route, all 450 of them. I want to be in San Francisco for the Fourth of July."
The sometimes-paved freeway and other times gravel or dirt road, has most recently brought him to Placer County.
Auburn's Deputy Fire Chief John Bailey visited with Harmon last weekend when he came into town. He said Harmon came unannounced and did what he always does n raised the fire truck's 100-foot ladder which displays four patriotic flags, a United States, Betsy Ross, Union Pacific and Lincoln Highway flag.
"I've stopped in fire departments in Auburn, Loomis, Penryn, Newcastle and Rocklin," Harmon said Friday. "On the other side (of Auburn) I've visited Applegate, Colfax and Clipper Gap. In every town on the whole route, I've just stopped and raised the flags."
Harmon said he'd never been in Auburn until last Friday, but said he really enjoyed the city's quaint feeling and his typical 15-minute to hour-long stays at local fire stations turned into a three-day visit.
"It's my first time in Auburn, but I liked it," he said. "I went to the station Friday and they invited me to stay at the station and have dinner with them. Then they invited me to their picnic Sunday.
"Auburn is one of the few towns located on the Old Lincoln Highway that has capitalized on the Old Lincoln Highway and made locals aware of it," he added. "I was really impressed with that."
Bailey said Auburn also enjoyed having Harmon visit.
"It was neat to have him here," Bailey said Monday.
When Harmon finally returns home to Ohio he won't be going empty handed.
Harmon said he was on the road when reporters broadcast the news of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, and since then, the trip took on another meaning and he began collecting helmets from the local fire departments.
Harmon said he now has about 70 from around the nation, which he plans to display at his museum, including one signed by firefighters from the Auburn Fire Department Sunday.
Harmon trip has been documented and can be read at www.lincoln-highway-museum.org.
The Journal's Jamie Trump can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.