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1930: Manhattan to Managua, North America's First Transnational Automobile Trip
by Arthur Lyon
edited and introduced by Larry Lyon, with annotations by Denis Wood and a conclusion by Sally Denton

Winner of the 2021 Silver IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) for Best Book of the Year in the Transportation category.

A gripping account of North America's first transnational automobile trip, from Manhattan to Managua, in 1930! Sure to become an American land classic!

Imagine setting out on a road trip in a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster, with the stated goal of traveling from Manhattan to Mexico and Central America, after only a week's worth of preparation. This is exactly what brothers Arthur Lyon (age 25) and Joe Lyon, Jr. (age 21) did on March 23, 1930. They prepared for the trip by purchasing camping gear, studying maps, gathering information about the areas they planned to traverse, getting their passports and credentials in order, mounted in the car's rear seat a fifty-five-gallon oil drum equipped with a gas feed for extra fuel, and divided up the princely sum of $324 in cash to fund their sojourn. As for their Spanish? Muy poco (very little).

The story is replete with movie-like accounts of what the young men faced on their epic journey, including encounters with expatriates, government and military officials, and other characters. In Mexico, where they faced nearly impassible roads, they finally had the car fitted with extra railroad wheels so they could literally ride the rails south. The brothers' 4,562-mile trip ended on May 17, 1930, their fifty-fourth day on the road, after the car suffered mechanical problems and the brothers and car nearly met their fate in the form of an oncoming freight train. Arthur and Joe returned to the U.S. separately, in part by tramp steamer.

The amazing 1930 journey of the young Lyon brothers—the first-ever transnational trip by car in North America—can be seen as the centerpiece of a larger story, of a pair of lives lived out not just as brothers but as partners who sought adventure and careers in the new Automobile Age. To help understand the forces that shaped those lives, the brothers' nephew, Larry Lyon, provides an introduction that chronicles the family's rich history, from a family-owned grist mill in southern Missouri to the small mining towns of Pearl, Idaho, and National, Nevada, to their father's innovative auto-repair business in McDermott, Nevada, the brothers' founding of Nevada's first bus company, their investment in oil and gas exploration, and many other business ventures.

Denis Wood, the renowned geographer, provides annotations to the brothers' journey, highlighting geographic, historical, and current events of the time in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America. In the conclusion, Sally Denton, prize-winning investigative journalist and author, reminds us of how truly unique was the brothers' journey and how it represents Americans' true longing for exploration and adventure. Readers will no doubt appreciate the story as typifying some of the best of our unique American character.




$39.95 U.S. (trade discount) No e-book has been authorized.
224 pages with 60 historic and 1 contemporary photographs, 4 historic documents, and 4 maps
8.0" x 10.0"
ISBN 978–1–938086–67–0

Published March 2020

Distributed by University of Virginia Presscart
No e-book has been authorized.

Read an interview with Lyon in the Boulder City Review.

About the Author

Book Events and Exhibitions
May 11, 2024
Boulder City Library's Literary Arts Fair
Book presentation

August 15, 2022
Civic Auditorium in The Dalles, Oregon
Book presentation

August 13, 2022
Western Aeronautic and Automobile Museum in Hood River, Oregon
Book presentation

Book Information Sheet (pdf)

Read a blurb in the Spring 2021 all-digital WSU Magazine under Briefly Noted (pg 52).








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