Tama News

Thursday, October 4, 2001

Crossing America's Lincoln Highway in a firetruck - John Speer

"Tama is tops!" according to Craig Harmon of Galion, Ohio, following his overnight stop at the Tama fire station Wednesday. Harmon, founder and director of the Lincoln Highway National Museum and Archives, was in Tama as part of "The Unfinished Journey", his trip across the United States on the original Lincoln Highway route. He is driving a 1964 Maxim fire truck dubbed "The Spirit of Lincoln".

Harmon expressed gratitude for his welcome to Tama recognizing Tama fire fighters and Mayor Richard Gibson for their hospitality. In demonstrating the vintage truck to fire fighters, he raised the truck's 100-foot extension ladder high above the fire station, with the U.S. flag and Lincoln Highway banner attached. He also presented fire fighters with a Lincoln Highway license plate featuring the road's original logo.

Tama's link to the highway, with the historic Lincoln Highway bridge on East 5th Street and route through the city, was appreciated by Harmon. He photographed the bridge with the fire truck during his stop.

Harmon began his journey across the U.S. last year, beginning at Times Square in New York City, the kick-off point for westbound travelers on the original Lincoln Highway route. He returned on July 29, 2001 to Irwin, Penn., to continue the trip in the open-cab fire truck.

Lincoln Highway Stop At Tama Fire Department --Tama fire fighter Jim Glendy (left) was among fire fighters who greeted Craig Harmon during his stop here last Wednesday. Harmon is touring America in his 1964 tower truck to raise awareness of the Lincoln Highway. Photo by John Speer

The 43 foot long fire truck has a 817 cubic inch, 300 horsepower, six-cylinder engine. He left from his home in Galion where the museum is located, with $1,000 and a sleeping bag. He hopes to arrive in San Francisco, Calif., in late October. Harmon says the fire truck is met with a great response wherever he goes. He usually visits the fire departments and city officials at cities along the route.

Harmon told The News-Herald he has had "an extremely good reception" with even more recognition since the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. Among goals of Harmon's journey are raising awareness of the Lincoln Highway as the nation's first transcontinental route and to build support for a six-year period of national celebrations leading up to the bicentennial observance of Lincoln's birth in 2009. He said cities along the Lincoln Highway route will be encouraged to light "The Sacred Fire of Liberty" beginning in each of the years 2003-2009 on October 31.

Harmon said some 300 cities along the Lincoln Highway route lit bonfires in 1913 as the original highway was opened. Persons are also being encouraged by Harmon to put in their "two cents." The goal is to collect 10 million Lincoln pennies from five million people, or a total of $100,000. The pennies will be used to build a replica of the "Statue of Mr. Lincoln" from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The original statue was created by Daniel Chester, a french sculptor. The replica will be placed in the Galion museum and will have dimensions of seven feet, tall, wide and deep. It is anticipated completion will also be in 2009.

Harmon drove the fire truck in the January 20, 2001, inaugural parade of President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. He is working with federal officials and state Lincoln Highway buffs to achieve more recognition for the route.

More information about Harmon's journey and the museum may be found at the web-site http://www.lincoln-highway-museum.org/.

Show your support for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks on America by your attendance at "United We Stand" Sunday, Oct. 14.

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Copyright 2000, 2001 Tama County Publishing