Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
American Road

American Road

The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age

Pete Davies

Henry Holt and Co.



A fascinating account of the greatest road trip in American history.

On July 7, 1919, an extraordinary cavalcade of sixty-nine military motor vehicles set off from the White House on an epic journey. Their goal was California, and ahead of them lay 3,250 miles of dirt, mud, rock, and sand. Sixty-two days later they arrived in San Francisco, having averaged just five miles an hour. Known as the First Transcontinental Motor Train, this trip was an adventure, a circus, a public relations coup, and a war game all rolled into one. As road conditions worsened, it also became a daily battle of sweat and labor, of guts and determination.

American Road is the story of this incredible journey. Pete Davies takes us from east to west, bringing to life the men on the trip, their trials with uncooperative equipment and weather, and the punishing landscape they encountered. Ironically one of the participants was a young soldier named Dwight Eisenhower, who, four decades later, as President, launched the building of the interstate highway system. Davies also provides a colorful history of transcontinental car travel in this country, including the first cross-country trips and the building of the Lincoln Highway. This richly detailed book offers a slice of Americana, a piece of history unknown to many, and a celebration of our love affair with the road.


Praise for American Road

“Davies recounts these treacherous travels in a brisk and readable style . . . he has put history, sociology, politics, and human nature into well-tuned balance.” —The Boston Globe

“Thoroughly absorbing and often amusing . . . American Road is a fascinating social history of a vanished age and of America's breathtakingly swift transformation into a mobilized society.” —Bill Bryson, A Book-of-the-Month Club Judge's Selection

“A first-rate story.” —Richmond Times Dispatch

“A crackerjack book, a dandy slice of Americana . . . Davies has researched and written well. His anecdotes do not merely amuse, but also illustrate the points being made.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Pete Davies

Pete Davies is the author of a number of critically acclaimed works of nonfiction, including Inside the Hurricane and The Devil's Flu. He lives in West Yorkshire, England.

Pete Davies

Pete Davies