Next Stop for The Spirit is in Rochelle, Ill., along the Lincoln Highway


July 15, 2019

Chuck Robinson

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Look for OOIDA’s touring trailer amid the sea of trucks parked at the Rochelle, Ill. Petro.

Jon Osburn, skipper of the Spirit of the American Trucker, is scheduled to be there through July 17. It is at the junction of I-39 and Route 38, Exit 99 from the interstate highway.

There are 400 truck parking spot there.

Rochelle is 70 miles west of Chicago and 25 miles south of Rockford, Ill. Just to the south of the Rochelle Petro is Interstate 88, also known as the Regan Memorial Tollway.

The Rochelle Petro is on the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental U.S. highway for automobiles. It was dedicated in 1913. It winds its way 3,000 miles from New York to San Francisco.

The idea for the Lincoln Highway, according the Lincoln Highway Association, came from the same man who founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 race, Carl Fisher. Fisher also manufactured Prest-O-Lite compressed carbide-gas headlights used on early cars

The Federal Highway Administration provides a history of the project. So does the Lincoln Highway Association.

Fisher’s goal was to finish the highway in time for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Initially, he called it the Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway. It started out as a gravel road.

Fisher asked auto manufacturers and other companies to donate funds. Henry Ford, founder of the nation’s largest automobile manufacturer at the time, the Ford Motor Co., turned down the repeated request. Ford said the government, not private individuals or companies, should build the nation’s roads.

Executives at other automobile-related companies disagreed. Henry Joy, president of the Packard Motor Car Co. and Frank Seiberling, co-founder and president of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., helped lead the push to create the highway. However, the group fell short in fundraising to build the road, so the focus switched to educating the public and promoting it.

Jon arrives in Rochelle having spent the weekend at the Iowa 80 Truckstop Jamboree in Walcott, Iowa. He said it was warm weekend but a great show, and he talked to a lot of truck drivers there. One issue had them heated up: new federal legislation to mandate speed limiters on commercial vehicles.

Two senators introduced federal legislation in June that would mandate vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds to have speed limiters installed with a top speed of 65 miles per hour.

“From the most mellow members we have to the ones who are always worked up, all of them were asking, “What gives?’” Osburn said.

OOIDA has informed the senators in no uncertain terms that they don’t understand the issues at play.

“Your legislation would create dangerous speed differentials between CMVs and other vehicles,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote in a letter sent to the senators on July 11. “Decades of highway research shows greater speed differentials increase interactions between truck drivers and other road users. Studies have consistently demonstrated that increasing interactions between vehicles directly increases the likelihood of crashes.”

After Rochelle, Ill,, Osburn and The Spirit are headed to Gary, Ind., on July 18-20, and then he heads to Albert Lea, Minn for Shell Super Rigs on July 25-28.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.