Historical Hounds: Bud The Pit Bull Joined The First US Cross-Country Road Trip Ever In 1903

UNKNOWN — 1903: Physician Horatio Nelson Jackson (at wheel) and his driving partner Sewall K. Crocker became the first men to drive an automobile across the United States. Starting in San Francisco, CA, they arrived in New York City on July 26 after a trip that took 63 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes. Over 800 gallons of gasoline were needed to complete the journey in this Winton.

(Picture Credit: ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

You’ve probably seen the joy on a dog’s face during a car ride. They stick their head out the window, tongue hanging in the breeze, nose catching all the exciting new smells.



But do you know about the first dog to ever ride across the country and experience the United States from a car seat? He was a Pit Bull named Bud!

In our Historical Hounds series, we cover the stories of dogs who made history. Here’s the tale of how Bud joined his humans for the first drive across America!

The Journey Begins With A Bet

In 1903, a doctor named Horatio Nelson Jackson made a $50 bet with his wife while they were having a few drinks. Mrs. Jackson said there was no way a car could make it across the country.

Keep in mind that, at that time, automobiles were still new. A few wealthy people owned them, and while roads were paved in major cities, most of the country still got around by foot or horse, or if they had to go far, by train or ship.

Horatio Jackson took that bet. He had 90 days to make it by car from San Francisco to New York. For comparison, a train at the time could cross the US in three and a half days.

He hired a mechanic named Sewall Crocker to travel with him and set out. Rather than heading directly east through the dangerous desert of California, they went north toward Oregon, then east to Idaho and the rest of the country.

Bud Goes For A Car Ride

Something was missing from the journey. As early as Sacramento, Jackson started looking for a dog to join the trip. And why not? Man’s best friend would certainly make a great traveling companion. Well in Idaho, he found Bud.

The men had driven a few miles one day when Jackson realized he’d forgotten his coat at the hotel that morning. On the way back, a man asked Jackson if he would like a dog for a mascot. Jackson gave the man $15, and Bud joined the crew.

Newspapers sensationalized Bud as they followed Jackson’s trip, saying that Bud had been rescued from a dog fight or that he’d been a stray who chased the car for two miles before Jackson took him in.

Bud, like almost every other dog who would take a car ride after him, loved traveling with the wind in his fur. He was especially happy when Jackson put a pair of goggles on him to keep the debris from the dusty roads from stinging the pup’s eyes.

He even learned to watch the road and brace for bumps and turns, which were a lot more harsh back in those days.

A Long Trip With New Best Friends

The companions wound their way through dirt roads and open prairies, struggling through faulty directions and broken car parts that had to be replaced by shipping them from the Winton company to their location by train.

Finally, they made it to New York on the 63rd day of their journey.

Jackson never collected his winnings from his wife. It wouldn’t have mattered, as the trip had cost over $8,000. It was an expensive and long cross-country car trip, but it was the first.

As for Bud, he lived a long and happy life with his loving human. He never took such a long car ride again, but he was happy to join Jackson on shorter trips around his hometown of Burlington.

After his death, the Jacksons always kept at least one dog in their house, and occasionally in their car.

Do you love learning about dogs in history? Does your dog love long car rides like Bud? Let us know in the comments below!

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