Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip

Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

A companion to film documentarian Ken Burns’ upcoming (in October) PBS opus, this book gives a compelling, succinct and nicely illustrated account of the first automobile journey from coast to coast across the United States. Mining the previously unpublished letters of the car’s driver, Horatio Nelson Jackson, to his wife, as well as newspaper accounts of the car’s arrival at various stops along the way, the narrative is filled with local color. The travelers, comprised of Jackson’s co-driver Sewall K. Crocker and a bulldog named Bud (who wore goggles, just like his master, to keep the dust from his eyes), passed through “Chico, Nord, Vina, Tehama, and Redbluff [sic] over steadily deteriorating roads,” on May 26, 1903. Luckily, Jackson was an avid amateur photographer as well as automobile enthusiast, so there are many images included from the actual trip, quite a few taken during the car’s frequent breakdowns. The book has a pleasantly retro look that should deservedly grace coffee tables from San Francisco to New York.