This Map Shows That By 1907, Only 11 Car Trips Across the United States Had Been Made

Caitlin Dempsey


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 [1].  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 [2], “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…” (Related: Before There was GPS: Personal Navigation in the Early 20th Century)

In 1907, a three-volume publication of 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.

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1907 map published in the Blue Book showing transcontinental car trips.

Animated map of cross country car trips from 1903 to 1906

YouTube video

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 DateFinish DateDurationStarting PlaceFinishing PlaceDriver1Driver2Make of CarCyclindersHorsepower
May 23, 1903July 26, 190363 daysSan Francisco, CANew York, NYDr. H. Nelson JacksonSewall K. CrockerWinton220
June 20, 1903August 21, 190361 daysSan Francisco, CANew York, NYE.T. FetchM.C. KrarupPackard112
July 6, 1903September 17, 190373 daysSan Francisco, CANew York, NYL.L. WhitmanE.I. HammondOldsmobile18
August 1, 1904September 3, 190432 days, 23 hours, 20 minSan Francisco, CANew York, NYL.L. WhitmanC.S. CarrisFranklin10
May 8, 1905June 21, 190544 daysNew York, NYPortland, ORDwight D. HussMilford WigleOldsmobile18
May 8, 1905June 21, 190551 daysNew York, NYPortland, ORP.P. MagargelBarton StanchfieldOldsmobile18
August 10, 1905November 10, 190584 daysNew York, NYPortland, ORP.P. MagargelDavid FassettReo216
November 21, 1905June 9, 1906201 daysSan Francisco, CANew York, NYP.P. MagargelDavid FassettReo216
June 7, 1906November 28, 1906175 daysWenatche, WANew York, NYWm. S. Gehr and wifeW.E. Canfield and wifeGlide436
August 2, 1906August 17, 190615 days, 2hrs, 10 minStockton, CANew York, NYL.L. WhitmanC.S. CarrisFranklin630
August 16, 1906September 9, 190624 days, 8 hrs, 45 minNew York, NYSan Francisco, CARichard H. LittleD. HaggertyBuick222


[1] Bauer, J. T. (2009). The Official Automobile Blue Book, 1901–1929: Precursor to the American Road Map. Cartographic Perspectives, (62), 4-27.

[2] Transcontinental feature of the Blue Book.  1907.  Automobile Industry (16) 1014.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.