FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – After 1,700 miles a cross-country journey has brought a piece of the World Trade Center to a fire station in Fort Collins.

“I thought it was going to be, sign a couple papers, jump in a pickup, and go out there and get it. And this has blown into probably the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” said firefighter Bryan Hanson with the Poudre Fire Authority.

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The WTC beam was honored during its journey (credit: CBS)

The WTC beam was honored during its journey (credit: CBS)

Hanson spent 14 days at Ground Zero in September 2001. He drove the 3,500-pound piece of steel back to Colorado with Len Lindholm, Jim Salisbury, and Jim Durkin. The journey started at noon on Wednesday with a ceremony in front of a NYFD fire station.

“We went 1,700 miles and we were never without an escort across the United States,” Hanson said.

The WTC beam was honored during its journey (credit: Poudre Fire Authority)

The WTC beam was honored during its journey (credit: Poudre Fire Authority)

Patriot Guard riders, police, state patrol troopers, and other fire departments all helped escort the treasured piece of history to Colorado.

“Look at people lining up, saluting when we stopped we would have 100s of people come up and hug us, thank us, and think this was just the best thing there ever was,” Hanson said. “It makes you believe in America again.”

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The WTC beam was honored during its journey (credit: CBS)

The WTC beam was honored during its journey (credit: CBS)

Donations helped fund the five-foot beam’s trip. It was donated by the Port Authority and Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund. It’s one of the last pieces of the World Trade Center that will be donated to any fire department across the country.

PFA plans to keep the beam on a trailer to transport to community events over the next year. The hope is to have a permanent memorial in place by Sept. 11, 2016 to mark 15 years since the terrorist attack.

The WTC beam (credit: Poudre Fire Authority)

The WTC beam (credit: Poudre Fire Authority)

Check out the beam’s journey from New York to Fort Collins in the Poudre Fire WTC Steel album.

LINK: More Information About The Journey

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Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.