Coast to Coast by Automobile: The Pioneering Trips, 1899-1908

Coast to Coast by Automobile engagingly explores the challenges met and overcome by the first motorists to drive across America. Because automobiles were viewed with considerable interest and also considerable skepticism in this period, the extensive publicity that these trips generated played an important role in establishing the practicability, reliability, and widespread appeal of automobiles in early twentieth-century America. The author describes the first ten years of such pioneering trips, beginning in 1899 with the first attempt and concluding in 1908 when Jacob M. Murdock accomplished the unheard-of feat of driving his family from Los Angeles to New York City. For each journey, the author asks the following questions: What was the driver or sponsor trying to accomplish, and why? Who was the driver (and passengers) of the car? How did the driver prepare for the trip? How did the car perform? What events occurred during the journey to the car and its driver? Specifically, how did the driver navigate, ford unbridged rivers, cross sandy or muddy ground, find gasoline and oil, repair broken parts, calm skittish horses? How did the driver dress, eat, and sleep? What impressed, disappointed, or surprised the driver most about the experiences encountered? How did the journey change the way Americans viewed the automobile and its usefulness? The author has written the first book to cut through the fiction, legends, and industry-produced propaganda that have long surrounded the first transcontinental automobile trips. He consulted not only automobile journals but daily and weekly newspapers along routes of the eight trips he studies, and resurrected long-lost personal accounts by participants. By scouring photograph collections across the country, the author has enriched his vivid account with 140 illustrations, the most complete photographic record ever assembled on the subject.