Crossing the Country
The First Cross-Country Road Trip
First to Drive across the Continent
Driving an automobile from coast to coast in 1903 was a difficult and daring achievement. H. Nelson Jackson, a physician and businessman from Burlington, Vermont, captured the nation’s attention when he and Sewall K. Crocker, a mechanic, drove from California to New York. Despite mud, washouts, breakdowns, and a lack of roads and bridges in the West, they finished their trip in 63 days. Two other motoring parties—each anxious to claim the title of first to drive across country—departed while Jackson and Crocker were en route, but could not overtake them. The trip began after a discussion in a San Francisco men’s club as to the feasibility of a transcontinental auto crossing. Jackson decided to give it a try. He purchased a 1903 Winton touring car, named it “Vermont,” and headed east. Jackson and Crocker followed trails, rivers, mountain passes, alkali flats, and the Union Pacific Railroad across the West. After 63 days on the road, the expedition reached New York. Jackson had spent $8,000 on the trip, including hotel rooms, gasoline, tires, parts, supplies, food, and the cost of the Winton.