Dr Horatio Nelson Jackson left San Francisco off on the first successful attempt to cross the US by automobile

Saturday 23rd May 1903

Dr Horatio Nelson Jackson left San Francisco off on the first successful attempt to cross the US by automobile. Just 4 days earlier Nelson had accepted a $50.00 ($1500.00 in 2015) bar bet that he couldn’t drive an automobile across the country. Amazing since he didn’t have any experience with a car, or much less own one. With no driving experience or maps to follow Horatio set out to prove to everyone wrong. One man’s mission to show the world that the automobile was something more than just a passing fancy. The first step was to find the car. Jackson a physician by trade had no mechanical experience. He convinced a mechanic and chauffeur, Sewall K. Crocker, to be his co-driver. Crocker convinced Dr Jackson to purchase a Winton car, since Crocker had some prior experience with the Winton. He bought a used 20 hp two-cylinder Winton, which he affectionately called the Vermont. They took coats, rubber protective suits, sleeping bags, blankets, canteens, a water bag, an axe, a shovel, a telescope, tools, spare parts, a block and tackle, cans for extra gasoline and oil, a Kodak camera, a rifle, a shotgun, and pistols. While traveling thru Idaho, Jackson picked up a second companion….a dog named Bud, which he purchased for $15. Dr Jackson soon realized the dust was bothering the dog, and outfitted Bud with some goggles.Heeding the failed attempt by automobile pioneer Alexander Winton (founder of the Winton Motor Carriage Company, which manufactured Jackson’s car) to cross the deserts of Nevada and Utah, Jackson took a more northerly route through the Sacramento Valley and along the Oregon Trail that allowed them to avoid the higher passes in the Rocky Mountains. They arrived in New York City on July 26, 1903, sixty-three days, twelve hours, and thirty minutes after commencing their journey. Their trip expended over 800 gallons of gasoline. Dr.Jackson went on to be a War hero, one of the founders of the American Legion and successful business man whom was once ticketed in his home town for exceeding the 6 mph speed limit. His car is on display a the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

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