Ramsey Alice (w2398)
Alice Huyler Ramsey, standing beside her auto (United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division)

Ramsey Alice (w2398)

  • Alias-Pseudonimo-Pseudonyme: -
  • Nationality-Nazionalità-Nationalité: USA
  • Birth/death-Nascita/morte-Naissance/mort: -
  • Means of transport-Mezzo di trasporto-Moyen de transport: Car or similar, Mezzi a motore, Moyen motorisé
  • Geographical description-Riferimento geografico-Référence géographique: USA
  • Internet: Visit Website
  • Wikidata: Visit Website
  • Additional references-Riferimenti complementari-Références complémentaires: McConnell C., A reliable car and a woman who knows it: the first coast-to-coast auto trips by women, 1899-1916, McFarland, 2000.

On June 9, 1909, Alice Ramsey and three other women left New York City while driving a Maxwell touring car. Forty-one driving days, 11 tires and 3,800 miles later they arrived in San Francisco, where they were met by a large fanfare celebration. Alice Ramsey and her companions (who did not drive during the trip) experienced numerous challenges during the journey, including bad roads, poor weather, flat tires and mechanical breakdowns.

In Nebraska, they met up with Indians, feared the worst, then discovered the Indians were just hunting jackrabbits. In Wyoming, the group was stopped temporarily by men on horseback, a posse tracking a murder. In 1961, Ramsey chronicled the adventure in her book, Veil, Duster and Tire Iron.

On October 17, 2000, Alice Huyler Ramsey became the first woman to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Her courage and determination have inspired countless women to pursue automotive-related goals and dreams.


On June 9, 1909, this 22-year-old housewife and mother began a 3,800-mile journey from Hell Gate in Manhattan, New York, to San Francisco, California, in a green, four-cylinder, 30-horsepower Maxwell DA.[1] On her 59-day trek she was accompanied by two older sisters-in-law and 19 year-old friend Hermine Jahns, none of whom could drive a car. They arrived amid great fanfare on August 7, although about three weeks later than originally planned.

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) that the group traveled were paved. 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. The women mostly navigated by using telephone poles, following the poles with more wires in hopes that they would lead to a town.

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. In San Francisco, crowds awaited them at the St. James Hotel. Ramsey was named the "Woman Motorist of the Century" by AAA in 1960. 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.

After her husband's death in 1933, Ramsey lived with Anna Graham Harris in New Jersey and then later in West Covina, California until Anna's death in 1953, and eventually with Elizabeth Elliott from 1968 until Ramsey's death on September 10, 1983, in Covina, California.