The next morning, on September 1, 1915, Anita was escorted out of Oakland towards Dublin Canyon by more than two dozen KisselKar owners to begin her journey, driving her car east. She sent daily messages of her progress to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition which posted them in the Palace of Transportation. There, the course of her trip was marked by a flag on a large 365-foot long relief map of the Lincoln Highway, attracting the attention of numerous visitors to the San Francisco Exposition. (15) The deserts and mountains Anita encountered presented fresh challenges for her to overcome. Indeed, due to the poor condition of many of the roads combined with her round of personal appearances in various cities, she took far longer to complete the trip than the three weeks she had planned. A September 15, 1915 news account reported her harrowing experiences on the Nevada desert:
  Again indisputable evidence has been offered supporting the claims that the Lincoln Highway across the state of Nevada is very poorly posted with guiding signs. This time the evidence has been brought home more forcibly than in previous instances, in that a lone woman driving a car across the continent and seeking to follow the great transcontinental motor road, became lost on the Nevada desert, struck off on the wrong road and for a period of more than ten hours was placed in a very perilous position. Several hours afterwards, this woman, Miss Anita King, who is seeking to drive a KisselKar across the continent unaccompanied by anyone, was found in a faint alongside of her car by three prospectors, who placed her in their car and carried her to Lovelock, Nev., where she was given food and shelter. Miss King could get no definite information concerning the course of the Lincoln Highway and after returning to her car was started on her way to Winnemucca, Elko, Ogden and Salt Lake City where she arrived last Thursday. In a wire to the local KisselKar branch, Miss King attributes her experience, which was as thrilling and nerve-wracking a one as any woman motorist has been privileged to describe, to the lack of proper sign-posting of the Lincoln Highway, a complaint which has been made to motorists and motor car dealers in this part of the State many times. (16)  
Anita continued driving through Utah and into Wyoming. Some days after Jesse Lasky vowed to present her with the finest KisselKar of her choice should she complete the journey, she sent the following wire to the Oakland branch of the Kissel company:
"CHEYENNE, Sept. 17--Just about through with Wyoming mud. It's been a terrible churning, skidding and dangerous grind the entire week ever since I left Ogden. Just outside of Laramie, yesterday, I went over a 25-foot embankment. By providential act I was enabled to guide car backwards down incline into gully, but I got in mud up to the hubs. Was forced to plow my way through gully filled with mud and boulders for more than one hundred yards. It took me more than three hours to get back on road. More exhausted than terrible night on Nevada salt flats. Will try make Kimball, Nebraska, today and Grand Island Sunday. Advise me if you have agency Omaha. Went over summit yesterday eight thousand feet. Water did not boil. Car has not failed once in any particular since leaving San Francisco or Oakland. It is the source of great admiration by people in every city, town and hamlet. Think going will be good from here. ANITA" (17)
When Anita arrived in Chicago nine days later, an article in the magazine, "Motor Age," directly compared her exploits to the on-screen feats of her serial queen contemporaries, Kathlyn Williams and Pearl White:
Chicago, Sept. 26--Having encountered almost as many adventures as Kathlyn and escaped about the same number of perils as Pauline in the serial films, Anita King, the moving picture actress who is driving a Kissel from Los Angeles to New York, reached Chicago this afternoon. She is the first woman driver to attempt a transcontinental trip without a companion, male or female. She has covered 3,443 miles to date and expects to reach New York by the first of next week.

In her drive from Los Angeles, she has been on the road 26 days out of 27, resting a day in Omaha, where she had her car overhauled. She has encountered no mechanical trouble en route excepting two broken fan belts and a broken spring. There is Los Angeles air in the front tires of her car and she has changed only four rear casings, three of which blew out in crossing the desert because the driver did not take the precaution of reducing the air pressure in traveling across the sand.

The Kissel that Miss King is piloting is equipped with Firestone tires, Besch magneto and Stromberg carburetor. (17A)

Copyright 2003 William M. Drew

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Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Endnotes

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