While a cross country trip in a car may be a normal summer vacation these days, slightly over a hundred years ago, no one thought to do it. In fact, the first-ever cross-country trip ended on July 26, 1903, when two men and a dog drove into New York City after 63 days on the road.
Earlier in 1903, Horatio Jackson bet fifty dollars that he could travel from San Fransisco, California, to New York City, New York by car, in 90 days. At this time cars were still a new invention. Only the rich could really afford them. Most of the roads between cities remained unpaved. Confident, Jackson hired a mechanic, bought a car, and stocked up on fuel. Then the two men started the journey east.
Cross Country Trip
To avoid the California desert, they traveled north then east. Along the way, Bud, the pit bull dog, joined the men. They even outfitted him with goggles to keep the dirt out of his eyes. The trip was not without problems. At one point the car broke down and they had to wait for the delivery of parts. At about this time, news of the endeavor spread, and other car companies outfitted people to do the same cross-country trip. Suddenly, the trip became a race to finish first.
While Jackson, his mechanic, and his dog came in first and completed the trip in under 90 days, Jackson never collected his 50 dollars. He said that the money would not have even come close as compensation for the trip. Jackson estimated that he spent around $8,000.
Over the years, cross-country trips have become more popular and less expensive. Still, we can look back with wonder at the bravery of Horatio Jackson. He agreed to take a cross-country trip in an untested car on unpaved roads. Despite the odds, he completed the trip and started a tradition that still happens today.