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'17 Oakland Raises $7000+ with Trail Tour


Words and Photos: John Gunnell

The Yellowstone Trail, which runs though 409 miles in Wisconsin, was recently used to help celebrate 100 years of Lions Clubs.

Automotive author John Gunnell and Manawa Lion and mechanic Dave Sarna drove the Wisconsin section of the historic trail eastward from Hudson to Waupaca, and from there southward to Kenosha. The Oct. 9-14 trip, in a 1917 Oakland car, to date has raised over $7,000 for the Wisconsin Lions camp for blind and disabled kids in Rosholt. 

Gunnell purchased the 1917 Oakland car as one of his dream cars in 2015, after buying a building in Waupaca that was an Oakland dealership and a Yellowstone Garage. Sarna is a former automotive technology instructor at Fox Valley Technical College, a mechanic and friend. The two decided to tie the 100-year-old automobile with the 100-year anniversary of Lions Clubs International by driving the Yellowstone Trail through Wisconsin.

The journey started at the Hudson Arch in Lakefront Park at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 9.  Gunnell and Sarna traveled to Monominee, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Codott, Stanley, Abbotsford, Marshfield, Plover, Waupaca, Oshkosh, North Fond du Lac, Hartford, Hales Corners and Kenosha. The finish line was at Gateway Classics in Kenosha the afternoon of Oct. 14.

Just prior to the trip, Sarna and Gunnell overhauled the car’s rod bearings and installed a clutch. Two East Coast men, Wayne Koffel of Pennsylvania and Andy Wise (, specialize in Oakland parts and repairs and supplied parts by overnight mail to keep the car going. On the first day, another rod bearing disintegrated; it was replaced during the mid-trip stop in Waupaca. Many other people along the route helped the travelers, and the Northern Battery Co. (, which has a warehouse in the old Yellowstone Garage in North Fond du Lac, replaced the car’s battery there.

The Yellowstone Trail was the first transcontinental automobile highway in the United States that passed through the northern tier states, from Washington to Massachusetts.  An Oakland touring car blazed the Yellowstone Trail in 1913.

More information on the Yellowstone Trail can be found at the Website of The Yellowstone Trail Association (