Two women re-enact 1st female transcontinental drive |

Two women re-enact 1st female transcontinental drive

As Emily Anderson, 37, and Christie Catania, 33, drive across America at 35 miles an hour in a 100-year-old car, their thoughts sometimes flit around the country’s last century.

“It’s been really sad to see a lot of the small towns,” said Catania, who hails from New Jersey. “Not a lot of faces in the windows anymore. It’s struck a chord with us how the interstate has affected these places.”

Anderson, who plans to drive the whole way with Catania as a navigator and friend, lives in Seattle.

The pair drove Friday though Craig and stopped at Mom & Pop’s Coffee Shop on the east side of town to escape a morning thunderstorm.

They’re reliving the first woman’s transcontinental trek in an automobile, a feat achieved in 1909 by Alice Ramsey, a Vassar College graduate married to a New Jersey politician, who drove 3,800 miles from New York to San Francisco.

They’re even driving the same car: a 1909 Maxwell Model DA, fully restored by Anderson’s father, Rich.

The plan: arrive in California on July 9, one month after leaving from the same spot Ramsey began her drive.

However, as her brother, Bengt, pointed out while standing on the Coffee Shop porch, a common vehicle may link the two journeys, but they are vastly different stories.

For starters, Emily doesn’t get to take any time off from her work as a nonprofit event manager.

“My sister is working full time while she’s on the road, and she has her daughter with her,” Bengt said. “Her husband is at home working full time, too. Emily is a modern woman, trying to juggle all these things, whereas Alice could do these things for pleasure.”

The world has changed in several ways, he added, and he wants to show that in a documentary he’s filming about his sister’s and Catania’s trip.

“I’d really like to talk about some larger issues, too,” Bengt said. “There are the two adventure stories, of course, with Alice and Emily and their trips. Then, I want to look at the history of each of the states, and looking forward to what that might be.”

Emily and Catania said they were somewhat discouraged by what has happened to America the last 100 years.

“It’s kind of disturbing to see what’s happening to our country and these places,” Emily said about the country’s small towns, often flanked by a busy Wal-Mart while their downtowns grow dusty.

“We’ve been talking about our generation,” she added. “We’re sort of creating an erasable history with what we’re building. Those old, historical brick downtowns, there’s something left. What are we leaving behind that’s of value?”

The trip isn’t all about sightseeing, though.

For Emily and Catania, the drive recognizes a historical moment for American women, and they also want to spread awareness of Women for Women International, a charity that helps female survivors of war.

The two write an online blog of their travels, as well, which people can follow at

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or

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