Ken Burns: Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip
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Get set for an adventure that marked a new era in America! Film-maker Ken Burns presents the hilarious 1903 saga of the first transcontinental automobile trip. On a visionary whim and a $50 bet, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson became the first person to drive an automobile across the continent. His arrival in New York City, after every imaginable breakdown and delay, proved that the "horseless carriage" really did have a future.
Subtitled "America's First Road Trip," Horatio's Drive captures the remarkable odyssey of Horatio Nelson Jackson, a doctor from Vermont who--accompanied by a former professional bicyclist and a bulldog named Bud--helmed the first trip from coast to coast in a car. In 1903, after making a $50 bet he could drive to New York City in 90 days, Nelson set off from San Francisco in a used Winton two-seater than he bought for $3000 and proceeded to cross a country where most roads, if they existed at all, were still made of dirt. Pulling together newspaper articles, period movies, and Jackson's own photographs and passionate love letters to his wife, famed documentarian Ken Burns crafts a love letter of his own to the automobile and the ways it has shaped American life. Horatio's Drive is both educational and completely entertaining. --Bret Fetzer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story, told mostly through the letters that Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson writes to his wife as he slowly weaves his way across the continent, is about the first wave of the future passing through an American that had remained unchanged for many years. Jackson, ever the optimist, writes about how certain he is that he can make it even when faced with a hostile terrain, no road maps and an under powered car prone to breaking down at the worst possible time. As he passes through one small town after another, he and his mechanic become instant celebrities. As one newspaper account of the time read, it would have been no less of a story had a spaceship touched down in the middle of town.
I though the story was intriguing and a real history lesson. It's amazing to think of Nelson and his mechanic crossing the continent without a major highway or road, let alone in a car that needed near daily repair.
The film itself is well done and certainly worth watching. Old time car historians will enjoy the mention of models come and gone. History buffs get a glimpse at a changing America. And while Horatio's Drive may not have the depth of other Ken Burns works, this is a delightful 'light' version of an interesting time and a wonderful story.
Jackson grasped the opportunity to become part of history at the perfect time. Cars we becoming more reliable, Indians were no longer a threat, and America was populated enough that he didn't go too long without seeing other people. And in just a few short years roads and cars would be commonplace, which would make the feat less exciting and adventurous.
Ken Burns does a fantastic job of documenting this journey of a lifetime. He has a way to make the viewer feel like they are sitting right along side with Jackson, his mechanic, and the dog.