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American Roads: Site Map > Auto Trails > Auto Trail Articles > New York Times article September 24 1911


A. A. A. Outlines Route to Los Angeles―Personally Conducted Trip Announced for Oct. 2.

― from The New York Times, September 24 1911.


How subtly the automobile has invaded the field of commercial transportation is shown by the announcement that within a few days a caravan of touring cars will start on a transcontinental journey from New York to Los Angeles, carrying two-score passengers, who have no interest in the machines, but who have paid their fare for the journey in exactly the same way as they would buy a railroad or a steamship ticket.
By bringing the possibilities of automobile travel to the general public, those who do not have their private car, modern industry has introduced a fourth factor into the transportation problem. The prairie schooner was the first, the steam train was the second, the electric train is the third factor, and now comes the gasoline “train” as the latest thing in the field.
While it is true that coast to coast journeys have been made before this, it is also true that they were private enterprises. But the coming tour is a public thing. It is conducted by a touring agency, and the participants will neither be chosen by invitation nor will they go to earn their salary. The project marks the gasoline car as a common carrier of inter-State traffic, and is for that reason most significant.

That transcontinental touring among motor enthusiasts has advanced beyond the guesswork stage, and that which only warranted great outlay on the part of certain far-sighted manufacturers who could read the “hand writing on the wall,” is evidenced by the announcement of a personally conducted tour from New York to Los Angeles, scheduled to start Oct. 2.
So many inquiries have been received during the season by the American Automobile Association Touring Bureau for maps and transcontinental route information that the association determined to lend its aid to the proposition for the tour in question. Many have been deterred by the lack of complete running directions and specific mileages, experienced pilotage, and other elements of uncertainty—particularly gasoline, oil supplies, and hotel accommodations—inevitable in such an undertaking at this time. Therefore the American Automobile Association stepped into the breach and found a means for ridding tourists of the incidental hardships mentioned above, which must usually be the fortune of the novitiate in tours of such moment.
The route to be followed has been covered twice within a year by A. L. Westgard, special representative of the American Automobile Association, who has also been engaged to pilot the party. This effectually guards against any trouble in finding the way in the mountains or desert country; but at the same time the whole route is now being thoroughly mapped under the direction of Mr. Westgard, and the booklet covering same will be available to others making the whole or any part of the trip after Oct. 1. Organized effort, including advance arrangements for gasoline and oil at a few places where trouble might otherwise be experienced in securing sufficient supplies for a large party, will insure safety and reduce inconveniences to a minimum. Incidentally this will be the first run ever made over a distance exceeding that covered by the National reliability contests of the American Automobile Association, where each day’s mileage and each night’s stop have been definitely fixed in advance; and it is expected that this schedule can be followed throughout, enabling friends to reach passengers by wire or mail on specified dates.
The route for the “Trail to Sunset has been carefully and deliberately chosen from a strictly touring standpoint, offering the most varied scenery and numerous points of historic interest. From New York to Chicago it follows the conventional routes, mostly macadam and good gravel roads, and passes through numerous cities of interest. From Chicago it crosses Illinois on good gravel road to the Mississippi River, crossing same into Davenport, Iowa.
From this point to Omaha it traverses the now famous River-to-River Road , graded and marked throughout its entire length. From Omaha the route swings southward in the valley of the Missouri River to Kansas City, at which point it enters the historic Santa Fé Trail, which is followed across the entire length of Kansas.
From La Junta the route strikes southwesterly across the southeast corner of Colorado, still following the Santa Fé trail to Trinidad; thence crossing the beautiful Raton Pass into New Mexico. It follows somewhat closely along the Santa Fé Railroad and still on the Santa Fé trail through Las Vegas to Santa Fé, the capital of the territory. It traverses large cattle ranches, passes by Mexican adobe houses and Indian pueblos.
From Santa Fé to Albuquerque the route passes Indian settlements, and from this interesting town it again swings west to the Indian pueblo of Laguna. At this point the tourist will leave the railroad and not see it again for several hundred miles, entering a country little known, but affording the most magnificent scenery to be found anywhere in the United States. For miles it passes a malapais (lava) bed, and skirts towering sandstone cliffs with the colors of the rainbow. It touches the Laguna Salina de Zunia Lake*, so penetrated with salt that it is said no one can sink in it, and passes through the Mormon settlement of Springerville, Arizona, and through the White Mountain National Forest.
On this portion of the tour the plateau of the White Mountain is crossed; this is above timber line, 10,400 feet above sea level. It passes through the Apache Indian Reservation, affording the tourist an opportunity to see the primitive life of this tribe. A visit is made to Fort Apache, a cavalry post of the United States Army; then the route leads across a mountain range, and dips into the desert near Gila River at San Carlos. It passes through the copper-mining town of Globe, where Gov. Sloan of Arizona and District Attorney George Bullard, who is the leading A. A. A. official in Arizona, with a distinguished party, will meet the tourists and escort them over the magnificent Government road leading via Roosevelt Dam and down the gorgeous Salt River Canyon, dotted with giant cactus, to Phoenix, the capital of the Territory of Arizona. Here one is in the heart of a beautiful green, irrigated country. From Phoenix a special train will take the tourists for a visit to the Grand Canyon, thus affording the mechanics a couple of days to look over the cars.


* Zuni Salt Lake wikipedia link


Copyright © S. Varner 2006