Monday, October 06, 2003

NEW YORK -- On May 23, 1903, 100 years after Meriwether Lewis got his marching orders from President Thomas Jefferson, another historic American journey began -- the first coast-to-coast automobile trip.

Now, another hundred years later, master filmmaker Ken Burns and writer David Duncan have brought the little-known adventure of Horatio Nelson Jackson to life. "Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip" premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on PBS.

"This is a country that loves firsts, that loves its cars, and that loves road trips," said Burns from Florentine Films, his Manhattan headquarters. "Why we aren’t taught about the first automobile road trip, I just can’t figure out."

Burns learned of the story in 1990 from Duncan, who spent nearly a decade locating photographs, scrapbooks and finally Jackson’s granddaughters, who still had his many letters home. Those letters reflect Jackson’s humor, his affection for his wife Bertha and, most importantly, his unflagging optimism in the face of seemingly insurmountable car troubles and navigational snafus.

I heard an interview with Burns about this thing a few months ago. Sounds pretty fucking cool, actually. Go check, then check back. Give me your words and your thoughts...

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