In 1903, Physician and early automobile enthusiast Horatio Nelson Jackson set out with the help of bicycle racer and mechanic Sewall K. Crocker on a journey that would put them in the history books. At the helm of a two-cylinder, 20-horsepower Winton, the two piloted the first automobile to ever cross the country. Now, an Australian man and his co-driver are seeking to drive New York to Los Angeles in a vintage Ford, in celebration of that historic journey.
This is not an exact replication of the original journey, as the car being driven by Rod Wade and Michael Flanders is a 1930 Ford Model A. And though the original trip went West-to-East, it does not detract from the daunting challenge ahead.
The 2,947-mile journey will begin on October 14th (Columbus Day), when Rod fills a bottle of water on the shores of Staten Island. The journey will not be considered over until that bottle is emptied into the Pacific Ocean at Venice Beach, Los Angeles. In between, the duo and their vintage Ford (which Rod restored himself) will follow the Lincoln Highway and portions of the route followed by Jackson and Crocker 110 years ago.
The original journey was concocted when Jackson sought to stand up to the notion at the time that the automobile was a fad. Even without a car of his own, he made a wager in San Francisco’s University Club for $50 ($1,299 with inflation) that he could make the journey. Making such a trip proved difficult at this point in history. They blew a tire 15 miles into the trek and had to use their only spare, which was the only proper-sized spare tire in all of San Francisco. (Photo: Smithsonian exhibit, depicting the journey, with Jackson and his dog, Bud)
The route had to be planned on existing trails and went through Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming, as no easy route over the Rockies had yet been established. The original journey took 63 days, 12 hours and 33 minutes. Though the Model A is more than 80 years old, it has completed the harrowing Peking to Paris rally- often considered the toughest automotive test in the world. We’ll see how Wade and Flanders hold up in the Model A and on more than a century of infrastructure improvements.
Image Credit: Wikipedia