Auto museum: Exhibit celebrates first woman to drive across U.S.

alice_ramsey_bodyAn exhibit showcasing the amazing adventure of a 22-year-old from Hackensack, N.J., who became the first woman to drive across the United States in 1909, is open at the National Automobile Museum, The Harrah Collection, in downtown Reno. “On the Road with Alice Ramsey: 100 Years Ago” will fill the Changing Exhibits Gallery at the National Automobile Museum, 10 S. Lake St. through Jan. 11, 2010.

Challenged by a sales manager for Maxwell-Briscoe Company, Ramsey drove a 1909 Maxwell Model DA – 30 horsepower Touring Car right out of a New York City showroom and into history.
The company sponsored and publicized the trip to persuade Americans that cars were here to stay. The automobile had recently been invented.

There weren’t a lot of roads at the time, and those that existed were often in questionable condition. Ramsey and her three female companions carried a block and tackle, which they used often.
Ramsey changed tires often and cleaned and tested spark plugs when necessary. When she felt a “skip” in the engine she would hold a hammer against each plug and shorting it against the cylinder jackets to find the problem one. Then she would disassemble it, clean it with fine sand paper and reassemble it.

Alice Ramsey would later be the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

The National Automobile Museum at 10 S. Lake Street in downtown Reno is open Mon. – Sat. from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for children 6 to 18 years. Children age 5 and younger are free. Parking is free. For more information, call (775) 333-9300 or visit

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