San Francisco in Cinema: Horatio's Drive

Ken Burns
Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip is acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' 2003 account of the first transcontinental (SF to NY) expedition by horseless carriage a century earlier. Nearly forty years before Bob Hope and Bing Crosby took the Road to Singapore and fully eight decades before Chevy Chase set out for Wally World in National Lampoon's Vacation, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson hit the road from San Francisco in a 1903 Winton Touring Car. Three days earlier, on May 19, 1903, a debate over the reliability of America's new horseless carriages had raged at the University Club. Dr. Jackson, a 31 year-old retiree from Vermont, accepted a $50 bet that he couldn't drive from the City to New York in 90 days. Dr. Jackson and Sewall K. Crocker, a 22 year-old bicycle repairman, left San Francisco at a time when there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire country. Along the way, Jackson and Crocker picked up a mascot, a bulldog named Bud. They arrived in New York on July 26 - 63 days after rolling out of SF. What happened along the way can be described in its full breadth only by PBS and master documentarian Ken Burns. Tom Hanks provides the voice of Dr. Jackson. On June 17, 2003, Dr. Peter Kesling and his wife Charlene pulled out of the driveway of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in a 1903 Winton on a commemorative cross-country road trip sponsored by General Motors. The Keslings reached their destination in New York on July 26.

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