Cars Rarunos: “Vermont”, the first trip to the united States from coast to coast

The doctor Horatio Nelson Jackson was several years practicing medicine, an activity that allowed him to live in luxurious way. When he married the daughter of one of the richest men in Vermont, his fortunes reached a level unimaginable that allowed him to buy some cars, one of his passions. By that time the cars still giving its first steps and many thought that those pots would only be a passing fad but Jackson, a true enthusiast, I was convinced that I was not going to be as well.

Ran on may, 18, 1903, when, while on vacation in San Francisco, was in the midst of the debate, ensuring that the cars were the future and was bet 50 dollars that a car could cross the united States in less than 90 days. No one had made the transcontinental journey in a car, something logical: it was a very long and tiring journey, overcoming mountains, and deserts, virtually without roads, gas stations or maps. crazy.

Jackson, 31, began immediately the preparations for his impetuous journey determined to win the bet. In a fit of reasonableness was aware that he could not overcome that company alone so I hired the services of Sewall K. Crocker, a young man of 22 years which would make it mechanical, it would split the task of driving and would make him company during the long journey.


Just had paved roads. The mud, the sand and the rocks posed a hard test to overcome

Needed a car and Crocker recommended to Jackson by the purchase of a Winton, 1903 that, although it was second hand, had barely been used. It is possible that you’ve never heard of this brand of cars founded in the united States by the scotsman Alexander Winton. Both Winton and Jackson were the two pioneers of motorsport in north America, perhaps this is why the destination they had been joined.

Began by manufacturing bicycles and then get on with the business of the carriages without horses as the Winton Motor Carriage Company. In 1898 he became the first us-based manufacturer to sell cars, giving their 22 first units. A year later he created the first dealer automobile from united States.

Jackson immediately nickname to your Winton as “Vermont” in honor of the state where he had grown up and resided. The beautiful two-seater red cost $ 2,500 and propulsaba with a two-cylinder engine that developed a power of 20 HP. With a car and traveling companion, the only thing missing was stocking up on provisions.


Some elements of the baggage is lost along the way, including a coat with a lot of money in your pocket

In the vehicle were placed all the basic supplies: sleeping bags, blankets, coats, rubber gloves, water bottles, a hatchet, a shovel, a telescope and a Kodak camera. Also a rifle, a shotgun and pistols, times were hard. Of course, also cans of gasoline and oil, many of the tools, a spare tire, spare parts, and a rig of pulleys.

An adventure of 6,800 kilometers

The point of departure was San Francisco. Jackson said goodbye to his wife Bertha -in fact the fortune she paid for the trip – and the expedition started just five days after the formalization of the bet, on the 23rd of may. After only 24 kilometers punctured a tire and had to put the only spare they were carrying. Things had not started well, and were many thousands of kilometers to go until we reach New York.

on The third day, in Sacramento, they decided to remove the lights on Winton by the dim light that gave e installed a powerful lighthouse in the center of the front. They also looked for replacement tires but it was impossible to find some of the extent necessary so that it is made with chambers of air used as a replacement. Less gives a stone.


the route followed by The “Vermont”

Shortly after the indications of a lady made them give an unnecessary detour of 170 miles. Were informed evil deliberately with the innocent intention of that passed along to the home of a relative of the informant, and thus had the opportunity to see that unusual car engine. Although in the large cities, the cars were already beginning to take to the streets, in many parts of America were still gadgets unpublished.

At that time only had 250 miles of road are sealed throughout the united States. On the West coast there were hardly any roads paved so that in many areas it was easy to get lost. In addition to asking to the locals, the two men followed the tracks of the trails and the rivers. To make things difficult, the odometer is broke when it just had a few days of the trip. From that point on, the two adventurers had no way of knowing or how fast you ran or how much distance they had travelled.

One of the most complicated was the moment of crossing the rugged Rocky Mountains. The two drivers had to explore the area to find a way passable, that they had to walk many miles without success. The exasperating task of finding a mountain pass is aggravated each time you the car was wrecked in the holes between the rocks. Through a system of pulleys they released the “Vermont” to move forward slowly.


unintentionally, the dog Bud also became famous

In Idaho were joined by a new traveling companion, a pitbull named Bud that a man offered to Jackson in exchange for $ 15. As the car had no roof or windshield, the occupants were very exposed to the dirt of the dusty road and soon saw that the eyes of the dog is irritated in the way. Jackson did not hesitate to buy some goggles for your canine companion, and the quaint image of the dog with glasses appeared in many photos of news.

In fact, at that moment the three members of the expedition already were famous throughout the country. Advised by telegraph, at each stop a crowd of people greeted with honors and the press were interviewed. Such was the expectation that Packard and Oldsmobile tried to take advantage of the situation: they put at stake their respective models to make the same way out from California with the hope of overcoming the Winton and reach New York to take the honors and publicity.

In the high plateaus of Wyoming and followed the railroad tracks Pacific Union. The orientation was more simple, but the journey was still cheating. This desert area was that the Winton get stuck in the sand usually. Luckily they used to cross with wagon and the cowboys, they provided assistance to tow the car.


The trio of adventurers

Finally they devised a system to overcome the terrain of sandstone more complicated without sinking: they created a base of 30 meters long to the base of mugwort, a herbaceous plant, who were lying in front of the vehicle. Circulating about it for avoid getting bogged down and, after passing over and to leave her behind, came back to put it in front. Laborious and very slow, but more effective when there was no help in the vicinity to fall back on.

of course there was that change many parts, some broken and others by the defendant wear. Crocker was in charge of the repairs, many times to sharpen the wit as when they had to use the bearings of a mower to replace the “Vermont”.

The risk was always present, albeit in many different forms. Between the 20th and the 21st of June, the two explorers and Bud were lost and they were without food for 36 hours. Luckily a pastor ended up quivering in his way and his salvation was. In another moment of the journey Bud became ill after drinking stagnant water, but recovered.


The journey was very hard for the drivers but also for the machine

When they came to Nebraska, things were easier since they were able to go a couple of paved roads. They traveled faster, each time they were closer to the East coast and, therefore, the closer you get to overcome the challenge. It was not until I came to Ohio when you were finally able to rest in a hotel. Up to that time slept in the rough under the car.

In their journey they travelled 11 states: California, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoning, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Precisely the bit of crossing the border that allowed them to enter the last of them, to the east of Buffalo, were on the verge of ending the adventure prematurely.

While they were shocked with violence against a obstacle in the road, which made both the two men and the dog got out, dismissed from the vehicle to the ground. Fortunately you were not injured and the vehicle also suffered major damage. This was the only accident who suffered during the long journey.


In New York they were received as national heroes

Making history

Came to the city of New York on the 26th of July. Jackson, Crocker and Bud crossed the finish line on Fifth Avenue after 63 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes. Thousands of people flocked to his arrival, it seemed that all of Manhattan was there to see them. For the first time a car managed to cross the united States from coast to coast. Epic.

The resistant Winton had travelled around 6,800 kilometers wasting more than 3,000 gallons of gasoline. The front wheels were the same as at the beginning, something incredible. The rear brakes themselves had to be replaced several times due to punctures and cuts with the rocks.

The bold doctor he won the bet, but never cashed 50 dollars. Neither mattered: to win Jackson had spent $ 8,000 on the trip, including lodging, food, gasoline, tires, spare parts and the cost of the Winton. She had also lost almost 10 kilos of weight during the journey. The price of go down in history.


One of the many album covers that included the incredible feat

By his feat, Jackson and Crocker were hailed as heroes and inspired a generation of car enthusiasts. His gesture was much more important that they may think initially. The trip was highly publicized and convinced the public about the possibilities of long distance travel in car as an alternative to the railways.

The doctor returned to his home with his wife, adopted definitively Bud and continued with their business. Crocker, for his part, wanted to capitalize on the fame that he gave on this adventure looking for sponsors of a larger company: around the world in car. Never came to embark in this fast-paced feat due to health problems.

In 1944, Jackson gave up his Winton to the Smithsonian institution of the National Museum of American History. Still today, the “Vermont” have a rest there of his exhausting journey. Currently still remembers adventure, and in 2003, with the occasion of the centenary of the trip, the chain of public television, PBS premiered the documentary film Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip.