Thursday, July 21, 2011


This summer has been way too busy. It continues to be hard to find time to think. This month's ATC theme was Route 66, but I wasn't feeling very inspired. I decided to go a different route, but still keep to an automobile theme. I find the stories of the first automobilists interesting, so I based this month's ATCs on some of the first people to cross the U. S. in automobiles. Thus "transcontinentalists". I am not even sure that is a word. My husband came up with the term.

The first is a picture of A. L. Westgard. He was a pathfinder for the AAA for more than 15 years. He crossed the continent many times searching for the best routes for cars to travel. He was called the "Daniel Boone of the Gasoline Age". Just before he died in 1920, Westgard published a book called "Tales of a Pathfinder" that details some of his adventures during his path finding. His adventures make a very fun read.

My second transcontinentalist is George Schuster. He was the mechanic and one of the drivers of the Thomas Flyer which was the American entry in the New York to Paris Auto Race of 1908. Not only did he travel from New York to San Francisco, but also drove across Asia and Europe to Paris.

In 1909, Alice Ramsey became the first woman to drive across the continent form New York City to San Francisco. She was 22 years old and chaperoned by 2 older sisters-in-law and a friend. It took them 41 days. She wrote about her trip in a book called "Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron".

My last transcontinentalist should probably have been my first. Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson was the first to drive a car coast to coast. On a fifty dollar bet, Jackson bought a car in San Francisco in 1903 and drove it all the way New York City. He was accompanied by a mechanic, Sewall Crocker and his dog, Bud. He had never driven a car before this. It took them 63 days.