Alice Ramsey's Historic Transcontinental Road Trip

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pulling Alice Ramsey's Maxwell auto out of a ditch (Peter Ramsey)

Pulling Alice Ramsey\'s Maxwell auto out of a ditch (Peter Ramsey)

On June 9, 1909, 22 year-old Alice Ramsey became the first woman to drive across the United States unaccompanied by a man. Ramsey departed from Broadway Avenue in New York City and completed her journey in San Francisco. The 3,800-mile trip took 59 days.

A representative of the Maxwell-Briscoe automobile company proposed the transcontinental trip after Ramsey entered a 200-mile endurance drive to Montauk, New York. In a public relations stunt, the company paid all of Ramsey's expenses for the cross-country journey, but for Ramsey, the trip was about more than advertising.

Although three female passengers accompanied Ramsey on her transcontinental journey, she was the only one who knew how to drive. The other passengers were her sisters-in-law, Nettie Powell and Margaret Atwood, as well as a friend, 16-year old Hermine Jahns.

The team faced plenty of car trouble along the way, and even ran out of gas in the Midwest. At the end of their journey, the women returned to their hometown of Hackensack, New Jersey by train.

New York Times
story on Ramsey from June 6, 1909


More in:

Comments [2]


Emily Anderson of Seattle, Washington is recreating Alice Ramsey's historic drive across the country. They started on the (June 9) in New York City. She will drive a restored 1909 Maxwell from New York to San Francisco, following approximately the same route as Alice Ramsey. For more information and interactive updates of Ms. Anderson's route, visit Alice's Drive at

Jun. 14 2009 07:48 PM

Wow! What an awesome story - and what a difference from road travel today. When you think about it, those "roads" were really just dirt and mud that a car could easily get stuck in (see picture for proof). Really makes road trips today seem easy in comparison...

Jun. 10 2009 09:18 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by