August 21, 1903 – The first coast to coast US roadtrip comes to an end

On this day in 1903 the first fully recorded transcontinental journey in an automobile came to an end when test driver E.T. (Tom) Fetch concluded his journey from New York City to San Francisco in a 1902 Packard Model F. Fetch was hired by Packard investor Henry Joy to complete the journey to prove that American-made cars could “negotiate the all but impassible mountain and desert roads and trails of the Far West.” The trip took him 63 days. The car left New York on June 20, stripped of its fenders, outfitted with extra gas tanks and had an additional low gear installed for crawling up mountains. The car also carried a pick, shovel, canvas and chains to get the car through the rough terrain. All loaded up the vehicle weighed 3,000 pounds. The car was dubbed “Old Pacific.” The car traversed the Rockies into Denver before moving westward onto San Francisco.  The trip was full of publicity stops all along the way. When addressing the crowd in SF after his arrival the first thing Fetch had to say was “Thank God, it’s over.”
Photo: Tom Fetch in the 1902 Packard during the 1903 Packard Transcontinental Tour – courtesy Detroit Public Library

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