LAURINBURG — Those with a head for figures and a cynical view of fate will find it implausible for a truck to make it through four decades — not to mention relocation from Scotland County to Connecticut to Montana and back again — without the odometer reaching five digits.
But the 1974 International 200 managed to defy logic and move to its new home at the Museum of Scotland County on Wednesday.
The bright red brush truck, formerly a Laurinburg Fire Department vehicle, stands out among the muted colors of the museum’s century-old Maxwell and Ford models. But in terms of history, it holds its own.
“We go to Montana in the summers, way up in the northwest corner,” said Glenn Adams, describing the area about 50 miles from the Canadian border where the truck was found with “Laurinburg 2” emblazoned on its doors.
A friend in the real estate business alerted Adams to the truck, which he found on a horse farm he toured with a client. In a remote area with no fire service, the truck served as the farm owner’s sole recourse in case of a fire.
“He called us and said, I’ve got something you need to see.”
Adams, a native of Scotland County and a Laurinburg High School graduate, now lives in Cary with his wife, the former Sally McMillan. His instinct, upon viewing the truck for the first time in August, came partly in honor of his father-in-law Hector McMillan, a volunteer firefighter in the days when there was no other kind.
“As soon as I saw it, I started work on making it happen,” said Adams. “I knew that it was too unique that it happened to ignore it. That thing’s been on a long trip.”
On Wednesday, the truck pulled off of a 76-foot Reliable Carriers, Inc. freighter with an odometer reading 8,491 miles and a North Carolina inspection sticker that expired in September 2002.
The truck left Montana on Nov. 20 and made several layovers on its way. Reliable Carriers driver Eric Raymond picked it up in Detroit on Dec. 3, detouring through Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for electrical repairs on his semi before heading down to North Carolina.
When it re-entered Scotland County, Laurinburg No. 2 also carried a few letters and labels that weren’t there when it left for Connecticut — the only leg of its travels that the truck made under its own steam — after the city declared it surplus.
The Laurinburg Fire Department initially obtained the truck as a donation from LOF Glass, now Pilkington, to use for brush fires along the railroad tracks. But its limited water carrying capacity precluded it from being of much use.
For the purposes of the Museum of Scotland County and of Scotland County Historic Properties Commission chair Lee Gaunt, that’s just as well.
“Considering how old it is and all the rest, it’s in good shape,” said Gaunt, who considers the truck’s repatriation to Laurinburg an excellent stroke of fortune.
“It’s just what I call dumb luck. Too many times with things like this, somebody takes them and they go off never to be seen again.”
Adams had no interest in tallying up the cost involved in purchasing the truck and transporting it 2,500 miles, so summed it up in one word:
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.