She’s driving cross-country in a more-or-less 100-year-old car with her 4-month-old baby in tow while
keeping up with her full-time job.
Some would say Emily Anderson is an eccentric dreamer; others might apply the label
The crowd of admirers gathered at Bowling Green’s Snook’s Dream Car Museum late Monday afternoon appeared
to be true believers.
For Anderson herself, the journey in a 1909 Maxwell that began on June 9 on Broadway in New York City and
is slated to conclude in San Francisco on July 9 is much more than a publicity stunt. Rather, it is a
centennial tribute to a true automobiling pioneer, Alice Ramsey, who at the age of 22 became the first
woman ever to drive all the way across the United States.
Anderson is determined to replicate Ramsey’s entire 1909 solo drive. She pulled off of U.S. 6 and came
barreling down Dunbridge Road at a brisk 35 mph, rounding the turn into Snook’s with klaxon bulb horn
honking, her driving goggles snugly fit to her face and authentic duster coat hardly showing the wear of
the road.
But she confided a few minutes later, while cuddling tiny daughter Kaisa, who had been riding in a
follow-along car, "We did about 225 miles yesterday, so I’m really sore today and tired."
That was way more than she’d ever expected to ask of her four-cylinder, 30 horsepower open vehicle – or
her own body, for that matter.
"We’ve been averaging 80 miles a day" but lost a day of driving following a breakdown in New
York State, and a 115-mile detour to rebuild one of the cylinders and get a connecting rod repaired, so
Sunday became the make-up day.
Exiting their vehicle for a scheduled water break and a quick tour of the museum, Anderson and her
co-pilot/navigator Christie Catania were welcomed by Bowling Green Mayor John Quinn and handed fresh
slices of watermelon by Vern Campbell, the former interim and current vacation fill-in pastor at Bowling
Green’s First Presbyterian Church.
Campbell, himself the owner of a smaller, two-cylinder 1908 Maxwell, has been instrumental in helping
Anderson and her father, Dr. Richard Anderson, find parts for their vehicle.
Five years ago, when the Andersons originally decided to re-enact Alice Ramsey’s cross-country quest with
the same model car she drove, they hit an early snag. They found only one 1909 Maxwell DA left in
existence and it wasn’t for sale.
After a wide search Rich Anderson began to find pieces from around the world and gradually rebuilt
another 1909 Maxwell DA, a near-extinct relic.
The goal was to complete the car by June 9, 2009, the 100-year anniversary of Alice Ramsey’s landmark
Ramsey (1887-1983) had graduated from Vassar College in 1907 and was a 22-year-old wife and mother from
New Jersey when she began the 3,800-mile journey. She was accompanied by two older sisters-in-law and
another female friend, none of whom could drive a car.
It was a decade before women even earned the right to vote and dirt roads were still the norm along many
stretches of Ramsey’s journey.
With seven days of driving under her belt, Emily Anderson is already struck by the differences a century
has made.
"The modern cars, the trucks, people pulling in front of you. We had a close call just
yesterday," Anderson admitted. "Somebody stopped right in front of us, so we had to pull onto
the side of the road" to avoid hitting the back of the other car "because we can’t stop that
The Andersons are staying "as close to Alice’s original route as possible," Dick Anderson
noted. "We’re trying to stay off the interstates."
"She had a much more slow-paced journey," Emily Anderson said of Ramsey. "She did it in 59
days, and not all of those were driving. We’re doing it in about 30 days" and the only real
touristy diversion they’ve allowed themselves so far is a stop to see Niagara Falls.
The more rapid pace is necessary because Anderson is not taking a break from her job as a professional
event manager to make the trip. "I have two work projects to finish tonight," she noted.
It was 8:30 a.m. Monday when the group departed from Aurora, near Cleveland. They stopped for lunch in
Bellevue before setting off for Bowling Green.
Vern Campbell and his wife Doris Ann, who was wearing a turn-of-the-century gown she had sewn herself,
hopped into their own Maxwell and followed the Andersons for the next leg of the journey, from Bowling
Green to Napoleon, where they were to spend last night. Barring mechanical problems – always a distinct
possibility in a century-old Maxwell – today’s goal is to make it to South Bend, Ind.
To follow along with the rest of the Anderson’s journey, visit the Web site for the tour reenactment:
Photo captions: Story: Emily Anderson (driver) and Christie Catania arrive at Snook’s Dream Cars Monday.