Sometimes you learn the neatest things when you least expect it!

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was recently out in Reno, Nevada home of old school casinos and gateway to the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Great Basin. It’s a high desert town with an identity crisis, and because of this, it always surprises me. While taking an after dinner stroll, I stumbled across a mural of women painted on an old, probably long-abandoned building. Now, to be fair, I’d seen this mural before from the car (and loved it instantly) and  but I’d never had the occasion to walk right up to it.  I apologize in advance for the not-so- great quality of the photo, it was taken with my ancient phone.

Don’t they look cool? Tell me you wouldn’t have braved a gravel lot with broken bottles and sage brush to get a closer look.  Here’s the information about them, cleverly framed in a wheel that looks like it could have been taken directly from the car they are driving.

(Text: In 1909, twenty-two year old Alice Ramsey became the first woman to drive across the United States in an automobile. She is depicted here, in her 1909 Maxwell Briscoe crossing the Nevada desert east of the Truckee Meadows.)

Now, I’ve made this drive and it’s no easy feat even in a car with air conditioning, power steering, and anti-lock breaks. Alice, on the other hand, had to use matches to light the torches used for headlamps and had to dig the car out of an irrigation ditch in Wyoming. It took Alice and the women who traveled with her 42 days (60 if you count the days they went sightseeing and were held up because of weather)  to make the journey from New York City to San Francisco.

In 1961, Alice wrote a book about her travels, Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron and there was also a children’s book written about her journey, Alice Ramsey’s Grand Adventure.  She traveled back and forth across the country 30 times. Alice Ramsey passed away at the age of 96, in 1983.

Photo: Alice Snitzer Burke and Nell Richardson change a tire on their suffragist journey

For more on Alice Ramsey:

Smithsonian Magazine

Alice Ramsey Documentary



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