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Seattle Woman Commemorates Historic Cross-Country Trip

June 7, 2009 |  8:00 am
June 10, 1909, Alice Ramsey

The Times, June 10, 1909: Alice Ramsey sets off on her cross-country tour to promote the Maxwell Model 30 DA.

April 14, 1909, Maxwell 30 DA

April 14, 1909: Maxwell also promoted the 1909 Model DA with a nonstop drive through New England. Like many autos of this era, the Maxwell was not a fuel-efficient vehicle and got 14.8 miles per gallon on this run, according to The Times, May 9, 1909.

Jaun 24, 1909, Maxwells

The 1909 Maxwell Model DA at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Adjusted for inflation, the car cost $44,982,22.

Emily Anderson of Seattle is setting out from New York on June 9 to re-create the cross-country trip made by Alice Ramsey in 1909 to promote the Maxwell Model DA touring car.

Anderson is making the trip in a car that her father, Rich, assembled from pieces of other Maxwells in a project that began in 2005.

According to Anderson's website, they only found one existing Model DA. The owner was unwilling to sell, but he provided a frame so they could build one from scavenged parts, with machinists fabricating the missing pieces. (Ever try to find an exhaust manifold for a 1909 Maxwell?) 

June 6, 1909, Northam

June 6, 1909: Women drivers were inevitably "pretty" according to The Times. Mrs. Col. Robert Northam learned to drive a Baker electric car in an hour and in three weeks became as skillful as the best chauffeurs.

Aug. 8, 1909, Women Drivers

Anderson's trip highlights the subject of women drivers. There were enough of them to be listed in an Aug 8, 1909, Times article, which noted that Adele Smith "has distinguished herself by making the run from Lordsburg into the city in one hour and twenty minutes."

"Women are usually cautious drivers, are watchful of the speed limitations and have few accidents and almost no casualties. They enjoy the sport to the fullest," The Times said.

Emily Anderson and the Maxwell
Photo courtesy of

Aug. 8, 1909, Ramsey

Aug. 8, 1909: Alice Ramsey arrives in San Francisco.

At left, Emily Anderson and the Maxwell.
Feb. 19, 1961, Alice Ramsey  

Feb. 19, 1961: Ramsey is featured in The Times. (Modular layouts were obviously not a concern in 1961).

"Iowa was the worst experience on the trip as far as weather and lack of roads. We broke a rear axle there and one afternoon made only 13 miles," she said. "The cross-country trip already had been made by men. I'm not pioneer enough to have attempted it if it hadn't been done," she said.

March 5, 1971, Ramsey

Sept. 13, 1983, Alice Ramsey

Above, Ramsey's obituary, Sept. 13, 1983. She was 96.

At left, March 5, 1971, The Times interviews Ramsey about her trip. 

"My husband never rode if he could walk," she said. "It wasn't that he was afraid. It was just that he was of another generation. He was much older than I and died in 1933. John just never cared much for the automobile or wanted to learn to drive one, the same as I don't want to go to the moon."

Ramsey made many cross-country trips after her historic trek and in the late 1960s, traveled 11,000 miles touring the U.S.

She said: "Good driving has nothing to do with sex. It's all above the collar."

Alice's Drive from Bengt Anderson on Vimeo.

Unlike Ramsey, the Anderson group will be posting live updates on its website and Twittering.

Read more here>>>