Cross-country road trips by automobile in the early 1900s was difficult in part because there was a lack of complete road maps to guide travelers . The earliest navigation resources were route books which provided turn by turn directions. One of the earliest and most popular of these guides was the “Official Automobile Blue Book”. Published as several volumes, the book provided early car drivers with the best available information for transversing the United States.
The 16th volume of Automotive Industries, in a piece about the Blue Book noted , “Though road information on an extended scale is is practically a new departure in this country, great progress has been made in these lines during the last two to three years. For the first time it is possible for automobile tourists to secure reliable information that will enable them to plan trips from any point…”
In 1907, a three-volume publication of the the Blue Book included a map showing the 11 recorded transcontinental trips that had been made to date. The trips were often undertaken will the goal of crossing the country in the shortest amount of time possible. Starting in 1903, the map shows the various routes taken with circled numbers and direction arrows indicating which routes each numbered trip took.
Animated map of cross country car trips from 1903 to 1906
Table of Transcontinental Automobile Trips to 1907
The map was also accompanied by a table showing the start and end dates of these cross-country trips which has been transcribed below. This table lists the start and end dates of the trip, the start and ending locations of the trip, and the driving team. The table also listed information about the make of the car, the number of cylinders and the horse power.
San Francisco to New York was the most popular A to B trip with the first four trips being this route and then again in 1905. This table has been replicated from Transcontinental feature of the Blue Book. One notation is that the May 18, 1905 both list the same end date but different trip duration days.
|Start Date||Finish Date||Duration||Starting Place||Finishing Place||Driver1||Driver2||Make of Car||Cyclinders||Horsepower|
|May 23, 1903||July 26, 1903||63 days||San Francisco, CA||New York, NY||Dr. H. Nelson Jackson||Sewall K. Crocker||Winton||2||20|
|June 20, 1903||August 21, 1903||61 days||San Francisco, CA||New York, NY||E.T. Fetch||M.C. Krarup||Packard||1||12|
|July 6, 1903||September 17, 1903||73 days||San Francisco, CA||New York, NY||L.L. Whitman||E.I. Hammond||Oldsmobile||1||8|
|August 1, 1904||September 3, 1904||32 days, 23 hours, 20 min||San Francisco, CA||New York, NY||L.L. Whitman||C.S. Carris||Franklin||10|
|May 8, 1905||June 21, 1905||44 days||New York, NY||Portland, OR||Dwight D. Huss||Milford Wigle||Oldsmobile||1||8|
|May 8, 1905||June 21, 1905||51 days||New York, NY||Portland, OR||P.P. Magargel||Barton Stanchfield||Oldsmobile||1||8|
|August 10, 1905||November 10, 1905||84 days||New York, NY||Portland, OR||P.P. Magargel||David Fassett||Reo||2||16|
|November 21, 1905||June 9, 1906||201 days||San Francisco, CA||New York, NY||P.P. Magargel||David Fassett||Reo||2||16|
|June 7, 1906||November 28, 1906||175 days||Wenatche, WA||New York, NY||Wm. S. Gehr and wife||W.E. Canfield and wife||Glide||4||36|
|August 2, 1906||August 17, 1906||15 days, 2hrs, 10 min||Stockton, CA||New York, NY||L.L. Whitman||C.S. Carris||Franklin||6||30|
|August 16, 1906||September 9, 1906||24 days, 8 hrs, 45 min||New York, NY||San Francisco, CA||Richard H. Little||D. Haggerty||Buick||2||22|
References Bauer, J. T. (2009). The Official Automobile Blue Book, 1901–1929: Precursor to the American Road Map. Cartographic Perspectives, (62), 4-27.  Transcontinental feature of the Blue Book. 1907. Automobile Industry (16) 1014.