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Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (2003)

The saga of Horatio Nelson Jackson, the first man to cross the United States by automobile--in 1903!


Ken Burns


Dayton Duncan
1 win. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Keith David ... Narrator (voice)
Tom Hanks ... Horatio Nelson Jackson (voice)
Adam Arkin ... Other Voices (voice)
Tom Bodett ... Other Voices (voice)
Philip Bosco ... Other Voices (voice)
Kevin Conway ... Other Voices (voice)
John Cullum ... Other Voices (voice)
Murphy Guyer ... Other Voices (voice)
Amy Madigan ... Other Voices (voice)
George Plimpton ... Other Voices (voice)
Eli Wallach ... Other Voices (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Roger Allison Roger Allison ... Self (scenes deleted)
Mary Louise Blanchard Mary Louise Blanchard ... Self
Dayton Duncan Dayton Duncan ... Self
William Least Heat-Moon William Least Heat-Moon ... Self (writer)


In 1903, Americans considered automobiles practical for short trips only. Horatio Nelson Jackson believed differently. He bet a man fifty dollars that he could drive an automobile across the country. Nelson paid a man to accompany him on a trip that attempted to go from California into Oregon and the Rocky Mountain states, then across the Midwestern U.S.A. and finally to New York City. Jackson's trip made him a media sensation. While Jackson, the other man, and a dog travelled by car, they encountered numerous setbacks involving mechanical difficulties. After the Jackson car started, two other teams of drivers set out from San Francisco, each trying to be the first team to reach New York. Written by Ken Miller <wkmiller704@yahoo.com>

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America's First Road Trip



Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

At the end, a photo of Dr. Jackson's dog is seen, and the sound of a dog barking can be heard. See more »


Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

User Reviews

Truly Refreshing and Fascinating
16 October 2020 | by arfdawg-1See all my reviews

This is an extraordinarily well done documentary highlighting the first coast to coast automobile drive.

What an amazing couple of dudes to travel across the country in an open air fliver whose top speed was like 30MPH!

No highways back then. They had to avoid all of Nevada because it was a desert with sand so deep they could get stuck! Added 1,000 miles to their trip to go up through Oregon!

What views they must have had. And how their kidneys survived is a mystery (you'll know hat I mean if you watch the doc).

Most of the people they met on the way had never seen an automobile.

Perhaps the BEST part of this doc is that there are no identity politics or partisan BS.

Just a great doc that demonstrates what made America great. Hope we get back our direction.

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Release Date:

6 October 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pionierfahrt 1903: Mit 20 PS durch die USA See more »

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