First Women Driver

First Women Driver

Alice Huyler Ramsey loved to drive.  She drove her father’s truck growing up in Rochester and fell in love with the road during her time at Vassar College.  There was only one problem; it was 1909 and women were discouraged to drive.

Alice wanted to change that.  On June 9 1909, 22 year old housewife and mother Alice Huyler Ramsey began a 3800 mile journey from Manhattan to San Francisco.  The drive was sponsored by Maxwell-Briscoe, a car manufacturer at the time. The drive would turn her into the first women to drive across country in an automobile.

The journey took 59 days, at the time only 152 miles were paved.  Along the way they were attacked by rattlesnakes, crossed the manhunt for a killer in Nebraska, and even were surrounded by a Native American hunting party with bows and arrows drawn.

Alice used maps from the AAA to find her way, had to change 11 tires, about half a dozen spark plugs, repair a broken brake pedal, and slept in her car most nights.

She arrived in San Francisco to great fan fare.  She would go on to drive cross country 30 more times and turn her journeys into a novel named “Veil, Duster, and Tire Irons”.  In 1960 AAA named her “Women Motorist of the Century” and in 2000 she became the first women inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame.