April 24: The first cross-country family car trip started on this date in 1908

GE Anderson

On this date in 1908, Jacob M. Murdock packed his family into a 1908 Packard Thirty touring car and left Los Angeles for New York. Keep in mind this was before interstate highways (or paved roads, or gas stations for that matter). On May 26, Murdock and Co. arrived, setting a transcontinental record for the longest continuous run of a single car and driver -- just over 32 days in all, although they did rest for five Sundays during the expedition, which included a mechanic and occasionally Murdock's mother-in-law. The fascinating tale of their journey, which Packard published as a book titled "A Family Tour from Ocean to Ocean," ends with this passage:

As we drove up Broadway it was hard for us to realize that the job was over. When at last we unloaded at the Packard store on the corner of Broadway and Sixty-first street -- while the time of 32 days, 5 hours, 25 minutes for the 3693.8 miles we had come, was being spread to the rest of the world by the newspaper men -- it was equally difficult for us to comprehend that simply as a family party, which on a mere caprice, had undertaken a transcontinental tour, we also had driven into the limelight as the first party of the kind to make such a journey and, in addition, were record breakers.

Now, when I look back at each one of the thousands of hard-earned miles through which I clutched at that steering wheel from Los Angeles to New York, I wonder how long it will be before a real national pike extends from coast to coast and allows of easy touring, whereby other motorists may enjoy the beauty of our great western country without being forced to endure the hardships of following broken and disappearing trails.
[Hat tip to Terry Anderson]

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