Ryan DuVall couldn't have envisioned what has happened since he wrote a story nearly three years ago about International Harvester, the company that built trucks in Fort Wayne and employed thousands at the plant on Meyer Road.
The 2018 story in The Journal Gazette was about his love of the trucks and how the history of the vehicles is interwoven into the fabric of the city.
Working with former employees and truck fans, they created Harvester Homecoming, an annual event that draws thousands to show off, check out and learn about the trucks that once helped drive the local economy.
“I wanted to have a little truck show, maybe raise some money for someone,” DuVall, a Journal Gazette employee, said recently.
Mission accomplished. And now, there's more – an effort to create a museum at 2911 Meyer Road.
Navistar, formerly International Harvester, is supportive of the proposed Fort Wayne Truck Works and Area Industry Museum and has donated many of the 20 trucks now in place at the former auto facility proposed to house the museum. Among them are pickups from the 1920s and '30s, a flashy blue station wagon from 1956 and even a “redneck limo” that's essentially an old SUV with nine doors.
Navistar left Fort Wayne in 2012.
“But this gift proves not only that what we are doing has made a difference well outside of northeast Indiana, it also shows that Navistar hasn't forgotten its roots here or forgotten how important and world-changing these facilities were at one time,” he said.
The goal of a museum, of course, is to highlight and appreciate the past. But it will be interesting to see what's to come.
“Eighty years of building trucks,” DuVall said, “you can't erase that.”