AN OHIO MAN
WHO spent the last two days resting at an Oakland fire station is
expected to complete a two-year, two-month trek across the country
today in a bright red 1964 Maxim open-cab fire truck with a 100-foot
ladder. , Staff Writer Craig Harmon's cross-country trip began as a
way to commemorate the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental
highway in the nation. It stretched from New York to California and
once passed through Oakland at Jack London Square.
But Harmon's journey gained new meaning after Sept. 11.
Now the trip, dubbed "Link Across America," is also one that
honors firefighters throughout the nation -- especially those in New
At 10 a.m., Harmon will be escorted by Oakland firefighters
across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island. He will then be met by San
Francisco firefighters and escorted to California Palace of the
Legion of Honor in San Francisco's Lincoln Park. He said he will
claim the park as the end of the Lincoln Highway.
Harmon, 46, of Galion, Ohio, and San Francisco firefighters will
participate in a ceremony that includes raising four flags at the
park: the American flag, the 13-star colonial flag, the Union
Pacific flag and the Lincoln Highway flag. The firefighters will
also help Harmon unload some 80 firefighter helmets he collected
along his journey. The helmets were
signed and donated by fire chiefs in 12 different states. They
will be on display at the Legion of Honor until 4:30 p.m. today.
Harmon said he was on the road during the terrorist strikes. He
is the founder and director of the Lincoln Highway National Museum
and Archives in Galion, Ohio. He calls the highway a "living
memorial" to Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Pacific Railroad Act on
July 1, 1862. Harmon said it was Lincoln's dream to ride on the
Union Pacific railroad to California, but he never got a chance to
"I'm sort of acting as the surrogate Lincoln," said Harmon, who
carries a lock of Abe's hair in his truck. Harmon said he plans to
travel to Ocean Beach after the ceremony at Lincoln Park and dip his
big toe in the water as a symbolic gesture.
Harmon began his journey July 29, 2000, at the Lincoln Memorial
in Washington, D.C. He then drove to New York City, where he took a
nighttime photo of his fire truck with the lighted twin towers of
the World Trade Center and a raised American flag as his backdrop.
Harmon initially intended to complete his trip last year, as a
celebration of the 85th anniversary of the 1915 Lincoln Highway Film
and Flag Trip -- when the Lincoln Highway Association traveled from
New York to San Francisco.
On July 29, 2000, Harmon took a yearlong break.
Since Sept. 5, 2001, he has been traveling -- for 10 months
Harmon said he set out on the 14,000-mile drive with only a few
necessities: a toothbrush, five pairs of jeans, eight T-shirts, lots
of notepaper -- and of course his digital camera and laptop
computer. He said the spirit of the American people has helped him
along the way.
"The American people will give and extend their hand when needed,
and this journey embodies that spirit," said Harmon, who hasn't paid
for lodging while on the road. "Everyone has a unique gift to give,
whether it's a tank of gas or an upside-down cake and a bottle of
Harmon said the truck he drives has been called "America's Fire
Truck" by people he meets along the way. The truck made an
appearance at President Bush's inaugural parade in January 2001 and
at the Lincoln National Birthday Celebration in Washington that
year. Harmon said he has talked by phone to the staff of late-night
talk show host Jay Leno, who recently bought a fire truck and wants
to restore it. He said he plans to visit Leno in Los Angeles and
share his experience with him.
This journey is Harmon's second cross-country trip on the Lincoln
Highway. In 1998, he made a commemorative trip with the Boy Scouts
of America for the Lincoln Highway safety tour.
After doing some research in the Bay Area, he was able to contact
members of a Berkeley family related to David R. Lane, who wrote
"The Lincoln Highway: The Story of a Crusade That Made
Harmon said he was so inspired by his findings on his first trip
that he founded the museum.
"If it wasn't for the Oakland Public Library, none of this would
have ever started," said Harmon.
Part of his future plans include returning to New York City,
where he will display the fire truck and the helmets for the 9/11
Harmon and "America's Fire Truck" will be in the Bay Area until
the end of August. He said he will be happy to participate in more
local community events.
Information about Harmon's journey and the museum can be found at