Alice Ramsey's Historic Transcontinental Road Trip

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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