America's first Road Trip

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Horatio Nelson Jackson a man from Vermont was many things, A Doctor, A Medial Of Honor Recipient, One of the Richest men in the state, and a early Automotive Enthusiast. Horatio had a feeling that the car was not just a passing fad for the wealthy, but it was going to impact just about everything in the modern world. In May of 1903 while in San Francisco's University Club as a guest he agreed to a $50 bet that he could drive a car across the country. At the time he did not even own a car and had hardly any experience driving, and the modern interstate highway system was not yet invented. He and his wife had planned to go back to Vermont in a few days anyways, and he had recently taken some driving lessons. His wife took the train back home leaving Horatio to take to the open road.

Horatio searched for someone more experienced with the handling of automobiles and talked a young mechanic and chauffeur named Sewall Crocker to accompany him on the trip. Sewall suggested that they buy a Winton. Horatio found a slightly used Winton and dubbed it the Vermont after his home state and final destination. To give you an idea of the times, 1903 was the year that Ford Motor Company was founded and the Model T was still more than 5 years away from entering production.

On May 23rd the Winton pulled out loaded with all the equipment they expected they would need, as well as spare parts, and tools. Alexander Winton the founder of Winton Mortor Carriage Company suggested that Horatio take a norther route as the harsh deserts stretching from California to West Texas would wreak havoc on the car. The car was ferried across to Oakland and the adventure was underway, until about fifteen miles into the trek a tire blew. They replaced it with the only spare tire they had with them, and they hoped they would not need another as it was the only spare tire the could find in all of San Fransisco.

Upon arriving in Sacramento they replaced the lanterns as the factory lamps were more suited for use in a major city with street lamps, and almost completely useless on the open roads. They were also able to find some spare inner tubes, but did not find any right sized spare tires. Somewhere between Sacramento and Oregon the cookware fell off, and a woman gave them the wrong directions on purpose adding over 108 miles to their trip, so her family could see an automobile. When their tires blew out, they improvised by wrapping rope around the wheels, until they could find a telegraph office to wire back to San Francisco for replacement tires. The pair waited in Alturas, California while the tires were being sent up by train. After three days of waiting the tires were still not there, so they decided to push on with their makeshift rope tires.
Following along the Oregon Trail the pair avoided the higher passes through the Rocky Mountains, but the trip required that they haul the car across deep streams with a block and tackle.

It had been twelve days to travel just 352 miles from Oakland to Alturas, including the three days they spent waiting for the tires that never arrived. Today that trip would take just 6 hours by car. The car broke down and a local cowboy towed them to a nearby ranch. While Sewall made repairs to the car, they discovered a fuel leak had drained all of their available gasoline. Horatio rented a bicycle to travel the 25 miles to Burns, Oregon to get gas. The car was repaired and the pair headed to Burns to fill up the tanks. Four days later they had pushed on to Ontario Oregon where supplies were waiting.


Around Caldwell, Idaho the team picked up a Pit Bull named Bud. Local papers all came up with a number of stories about how the pair had stolen the dog, rescued him, and all other sorts of stories. In a letter to his wife Horatio told his wife he had purchased the dog for $15 (about $320 today). Bud became the mascot of the trip and even had his own goggles to protect his eyes from the road dust.
On June 16th somewhere in Idaho Horatio lost his coat that held most of their money, it fell off along the road and was never found. After wiring his wife, she sent money to Cheyenne, Wyoming. As always along the way the car developed a problem with the wheel bearings, Sewall had to talk a farmer into giving them wheel bearing from his mowing machine.

Omaha, Nebraska appeared on the horizon on July 12th, from there on it was smooth sailing with more modern roads, and even some pavement. The trio arrived in New York City on July 26th 1903 almost a full two months and 800 gallons of fuel later. Horatio's wife met him in New York and they drove home to Vermont. About 15 miles from home the car once again broke down, his brothers drove out to help him fix the Winton. Shortly there after their cars both broke down and the Winton towed them both home. Upon arriving at home the Winton's drive chain snapped in two, one of the only parts to make it the entire trip without failing.

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