The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 30, 2021 12:03 pm

Navistar loaning truck collection to local non-profit

Harvester Homecoming seeks to create museum at former engineering site

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

Navistar International is loaning a collection of historic trucks and other items to a local non-profit that wants to create a museum of International Harvester memorabilia.

Harvester Homecoming Inc. officials made the announcement this morning at the former Navistar engineering complex on Meyer Road where Harvester Homecoming officials want the museum to be.

Navistar is also contributing $10,000 to the Harvester Homecoming organization.

Jerry Betley, Harvester Homecoming co-founder, said Navistar's collection includes about 24 trucks. They include a 1979 Scout II Rallye that was assigned to the engineering center until it became part of Navistar's collection. Several employees have wanted to buy it.

Scouts were built in Fort Wayne from 1961 through 1980.

A 1937 D2 pickup truck and 1949 Model KB truck that helped satisfy the demand for sturdy commercial trucks are also part of the collection.

"It's pretty emotional when you see these trucks when you've worked here as long as I have," said Betley, who spent nearly 40 years as an engineer at International Harvester and Navistar and was in charge of the company's toy store at the engineering complex.

This year's Harvester Homecoming festival is set for Aug. 6 and 7 at the Meyer Road site.

Harvester announced in 1919 it would build a truck plant, but didn't disclose where.

The company later chose Fort Wayne over 26 other cities. Construction on the Fort Wayne assembly plant near what is now Coliseum Boulevard South and Pontiac Street began in 1922, and it was producing trucks by 1924.

At its peak, in 1979, International Harvester, now known as Navistar International, employed about 10,500 in Fort Wayne before closing the local truck assembly plant in 1983. Navistar's engineering and vehicle testing operations remained at the Meyer Road facility until 2012.

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