Alice Huyler Ramsey

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Alice Huyler Ramsey
Alice Ramsey ggbain.03065.jpg
Born (1886-11-11)November 11, 1886
Hackensack, then known as New Barbadoes Twp., Bergen County, NJ
Died September 10, 1983(1983-09-10) (aged 96)
Covina, California.
Occupation Vehicular Pioneer
Spouse(s) John R. Ramsey
Children John R., Jr. and Alice
Parent(s) Ada and John Huyler

Alice Huyler Ramsey (November 11, 1886 – September 10, 1983) was the first woman to drive across the United States from coast to coast.[1]


Ramsey was born Alice Taylor Huyler, the daughter of John Edwin Huyler, a lumber dealer, and Ada Mumford Farr. She attended Vassar College from 1903-1905. On June 9, 1909, the 22-year-old housewife and mother from Hackensack, New Jersey,[2] began a 3,800-mile journey from Hell's Gate in Manhattan, New York, to San Francisco, California, in a green Maxwell 30. On her 59-day trek she was accompanied by two older sisters-in-law and another female friend, none of whom could drive a car. They arrived amid great fanfare on August 7.[1][3]

The drive was originally meant as a publicity stunt for Maxwell-Briscoe, the carmaker.[2] At that time, women were not encouraged to drive cars. The group of women used maps from the American Automobile Association to make the journey. Only 152 of the 3,600 miles (244 of the 5,767 kilometers) the group traveled were paved.[2] Over the course of the drive, Ramsey changed 11 tires, cleaned the spark plugs, repaired a broken brake pedal and had to sleep in the car when it was stuck in mud.[2] The women mostly navigated by using telephone poles, following the poles with more wires in hopes that they would lead to a town.[4]

Along the way, they crossed the trail of a manhunt for a killer in Nebraska, Ramsey received a case of bedbugs from a Wyoming hotel, and in Nevada they were surrounded by a Native American hunting party with bows and arrows drawn.[2] In San Francisco, crowds awaited them at the St. James Hotel.[2] Ramsey was named the "Woman Motorist of the Century" by AAA in 1960.[2] In later years, she lived in West Covina, California, where in 1961 she wrote and published the story of her journey, Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron. Between 1909 and 1975, Ramsey drove across the country more than 30 times. She was married to congressman John R. Ramsey of Hackensack, New Jersey, on 10 Jan 1906 in Hackensak, NJ with whom she had two children, John Rathbone Ramsey, Jr. (1907–2000) and Alice Valleau Ramsey (1910-2015 ), who married Robert Stewart Bruns (1906–1981).

She died on September 10, 1983, in Covina, California.[5]


On October 17, 2000, she became the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.


"Good driving has nothing to do with sex. It’s all above the collar."[6]


  1. ^ a b Ruben, Marina Koestler (June 5, 2009). "Alice Ramsey's Historic Cross-Country Drive". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved March 9, 2010. In 1909, 22-year-old Alice Ramsey made history as the first woman to drive across the United States ... 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Alice Ramsey's Historic 1909 Drive Across America". Go Magazine. AAA Carolinas. July 2009. 
  3. ^ Blaine, Dean (May 2009). "Alice Ramsey's historic road trip". EnCompassing. AAA Colorado. Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ Kuralt, Charles (1985). On The Road with Charles Kuralt. Ballantine Books. p. . 64. 
  5. ^ "Alice H. Ramsey". Philadelphia Inquirer. September 14, 1983. Retrieved March 9, 2010. Alice Huyler Ramsey, 96, the first woman to drive from ocean to ocean across the United States, died Saturday at her home in Covina, a town 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Honored in 1960 as 'Woman Motorist of the Century' by the American Automobile Association, Mrs. Ramsey and three friends made the 3,800-mile journey from New York to San Francisco in 41 days. In a 1978 interview with The Inquirer, she recalled that she undertook the 1909 expedition .... 
  6. ^ Ms. Magazine: 17. February 1975.  [full citation needed]

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