Reo Car Ad: How Long Does it Take to Drive From New York to San Francisco?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 17, 1912:  About the same as yesterday.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later

Sounds like another boring summer day. I’ve been posting Grandma’s diary entries for more than a year and a half now. In that time period she’s never gone more than a few miles from her home.

Grandma went  to Milton (which was about 5 miles from her home); to Turbotville (which was about 4 miles); to Montandon (which was about 8 miles); to Ottawa –Limestone Township, Montour County (about 8 miles). She also regularly went to McEwensville and Watsontown—both of which were about a mile from the Muffly farm.

Did Grandma ever dream of seeing the world?

Reo Car Advertisement

Source: Farm Journal (April 1911)

Reo

$1250

Top and Merger Automatic Windshield extra

New York to San Francisco

10 days 15 hours 13 minutes

steady going and not a wrench touched to the Reo engine.

That’s your answer to every question you can ask about the Reo.

The Reo must have speed and power, to keep going like that over bad roads and hard climbs found in the Great American Desert and the Rocky Mountains.

The Reo must have strength, to stand the constant and tough strain.

The Reo must be reliable. A car that stands a test like that, and then breaks the record from New York to Los Angeles, and then hill-climbing record up Mount Hamilton, and then the record from Topeka to Kansas City, and still is in perfect condition—that is the perfect proof of reliability.

Comfort?  Prove it yourself.  Get the nearest Reo dealer to take you for a ride.

Send for the catalogue and “Reo and the Farmer.”  Plain facts.

R M Owen & Co.  General Sales Agent for Reo Motor Company.

You can do it with a Reo.

Whew—10 days 15 hours 13 minutes sounds brutal.

According to Mapquest, today you can get on Interstate Route 80 in New York City and end up in San Francisco 1 day 19 hours and 48 minutes later (assuming you drive straight through).

13 Responses

  1. I found an ad for a farm truck in an old Family Bible. I wonder if they ended up buying it, or if it was just their dream to own it.

    • Random papers in Bibles and old books can provide so many tantalizing clues and so few answers. . .

      I vote that the ad represented their dream to own the truck (though I hope that they were able to actually buy it).

  2. Interesting how the features they use to sell cars has only changed a little. I don’t hear about strength in car ads much, but comfort and reliability? You bet. :)

  3. Wow, that’s one thing that has definitely changed in 100 years! Reminds me of all those awful long summer car trips from Connecticut to Florida in the 1960s, in the way back of a black station wagon, with no air conditioning. My parents in the front seat and my widowed aunts in the back seat – my sister and I were stuck in the back there with the dog!

  4. Our family made a number of road trips between Wisconsin and Washington state in the 40s and 50s – I don’t remember anything but fun on those trips! Not sure how, but my parents were good at making things enjoyable even when they might not have been. I am so blessed by their memories.

    The only complaint I remember is one night, stopping for a motel that cost $5.00 a night for all 5 of us, I complained that we should get a little nicer place. Daddy’s answer was, “Why spend more money when we won’t even be awake to enjoy it?”

    • I love it! Especially the story about the $5 motel. (I can really relate to it–some of my relatives would use the same thought process.)

  5. I think it’d be a riot to travel in those cars back then. Reminds me of Dick Van Dyke in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (one of my favorites).

    • I hadn’t thought of that movie in years. Thanks for bringing back some good memories. I’ll have to look for it at the library.

  6. In 1912 Carl Fisher set out to make a road from New York to San Fransico. He ask the Auto industry to donate 1% of their revenues to fund the project and had communites along the way to provide the equipment and man power. It was finished in 1915 and was a gravelled road sometime only one lane at the cost of 10 million dollars. In the meantime the auto companies played this up in their advertising and took PR trips to get community support. This road became Route 30 Lincoln Highway.

    • It’s kind of cool how the auto companies were supporting this effort–though I guess better roads (even if it was just gravel) probably led to the sale of more cars.

      I know that there’s been lots of inflation but it’s amazing that they could build a coast-to-coast road for only $10 million.

  7. Fabulous post & great info!!! Thanks Sheryl, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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