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Truck convoy to recreate part of transportation history

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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Interstate System,

the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is recreating, in reverse, the historic Transcontinental Motor Train of 1919.

The Transcontinental Motor Train was a test to see if troops and supplies could travel across the country. They could, but slowly.

Leaving Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1919, the Army followed the original Lincoln Highway, taking 62 days to drive 3,250 miles to San Francisco.

AASHTO has invited Andrew Firestone to be the official "launch master." He is the great-grandson of Harvey S. Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., who was an enthusiastic supporter of paved, connected roads.

In June 1919, Harvey Firestone invited the original participants -– including the young Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower –- to stop at his farm in Columbiana, Ohio, for a chicken dinner. The next morning, he added two of his own trucks, both equipped with his innovative pneumatic tires.

Andrew Firestone will fly to Akron, Ohio, so he can greet the caravan –- which includes two Firestone-branded tractor-trailers –- as it arrives at the Bridgestone Firestone Technical Center on June 26. Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, great-grandson of President Eisenhower, will also participate in the cross-country convoy.

The convoy is scheduled to reach Washington, D.C., on June 29.

For a complete route and schedule of celebrations planned along the way, visit www.interstate50th.org.

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