Old Movies

The Convoy is Coming!

That cry was heard over 100 years ago as The Military Convoy of 1919 rolled into towns across the country. The Army wanted to see if it could send men and machines across the country on the new transcontinental road known as the Lincoln Highway. Starting in Washington DC, the caravan drove over 3000 miles to Oakland where it then boarded ferries to San Francisco and the Palace of the Legion of Honor, the terminus of the Lincoln Highway. Onboard, was a young major by the name of Dwight D. Eisenhower, future President of the United States.

Eisenhower, 1919.

Eisenhower, 1919.

The El Dorado County Arts Council has an exhibit titled, "Convoy 1919: Centennial of the 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy" running from August 29, through October 6, 2019, at the Confidence Gallery on Main Street. According to their website, "The convoy - consisting of 81 vehicles, including 31 heavy cargo trucks, 4 kitchen trailers, a wrecker, 4 motorcycles and 5 ambulances – made its way westward over long stretches of roads that were often little more than dirt tracks. On the evening of September 2, 1919, the convoy, motoring on the Lincoln Highway through El Dorado County, reached Placerville, California to cheers from the welcoming crowd. That evening more than 200 troops were treated to 'a huge barbecue, a revival of the 'Days of Forty-nine' and a street dance."

Vintage film of the convoy!

Want to cheer the convoy yourself? The MVPA (Miltary Vehicle Preservation Association) has been crossing the country in their vintage military vehicles, following the route the Army took back in 1919. They will leave Carson City, Nevada on September 12, destination Placerville! The convoy will pass down Main Street later that day, with a stop at the County fairgrounds where they will spend the night.

MVPA convoy in Iowa.

Army Convoy, 1919

In 1919 the U.S. Army decided to send a convoy of trucks, motorcycles, tractors, and men on a transcontinental trip from Washington DC to San Francisco. The road they would follow was the recently completed Lincoln Highway. Some of the convoy's journey was filmed, and we look at the section from western Nevada to San Francisco, California. The text comes from a diary and film record made during the trip.

Eisenhower and Army convoy leave Washington DC headed to San Francisco

It was on July 7th, 1919 that The Army's Motor Transport Corps convoy left Washington DC headed towards San Francisco. The trip was to see if the military could move men and machines across the country using the recently "completed" Lincoln Highway as the route. They almost didn't make it, arriving in Oakland seven day's behind schedule.

The convoy included, "24 expeditionary officers, 15 War Department staff observation officers, including a young, Bvt Lt Col Dwight D. Eisenhower of the Tank Corps, and 258 enlisted men." The experience Eisenhower had on the trip helped formulate his plan as President for an Interstate Highway System, still in place today.

The National Archives has a video of some of the trip. It's fascinating to watch, and at the 18:47 mark we start to see the mountains of Nevada and California, and the climb up Meyers Grade, across the summit, and down into Kyburz at the 21:45 mark.

Gold Discovery Centennial Celebration in Coloma, California

Gold Discovery Centennial Celebration in Coloma, California filmed in 16 mm, 1948. Participant filmed vignettes of the 1948 centennial celebration of the discovery of gold. Scenes mostly in Coloma, CA with a couple snippets from Placerville CA. Parade floats, speakers, participants, spectators. Gold panning.

From the California State Archives. https://archive.org/details/caclmmgd_000010