Edna Purviance's bio

Currently working on Edna Purviance's family biography. Draft is done. Photo: Leading Ladies © used by ednapurviance.org

Monday, July 09, 2007

Anita King's Nevada adventure

While I found several stories of Edna's sister Bessie out driving in northern Nevada to California (usually with her young son, Morgan) I never found her to have any problems, but she knew the Nevada desert well. Here is a story about a young Paramount star who tried to travel northern Nevada, by herself in 1915.

Anita King was known as a race car driver and actress who set off to become the first woman to drive across the United States by herself. This event was sponsored by Firestone Tires and KisselKar.

The following from the LA Times shares a telegram about her problems in Nevada. King sent the telegram from Elko, Nevada. She originally planned to travel through Nevada by Reno, Fallon, Austin and Ely. Ely is south of Lovelock about 200 miles 'as the crow flies', but she made the wrong turn.

September 15, 1915 - as reported to the Los Angeles Times.
Nervy Girl
Anita King, the plucky "Paramount Girl" who has undertaken the nervy adventure of crossing the continent alone in a KisselKar, is having some thrilling experiences and breathless adventures, according to telegrams received at the Lasky studio during the past few days. The record of her trip reads like a pioneer story of 1849, plus the automobile.

Miss King lost the road leading from Fallon to Austin, Nevada, and when, after three days' hard traveling, she fainted from exposure and lack of food, and was picked up at Lovelock (Nevada) by prospectors, and carried to Elko. She was 300 miles north of her course.

Here is the record of the mishap secured by wire: (Anita's original wire from Nevada)

Elko, Nevada - Sept. 6, 1915 - Have been lost in distress since Saturday. Was stuck in mud up to my waist on Salt Lake Flats, trying to cross Fallon. Worked eleven hours to dig out. Had no food and fell exhausted. Was picked up by three prospectors at 2 a.m. and taken to Lovelock. Started out the next day and have not had a place to sleep or found a town until this. Will leave for Salt Lake at once and if all is well should be there Wednesday. If not, at least I am not a coward. I say I held out to the last breath. - Anita

Miss King made the record trip for solitary driving to San Francisco when she arrived in that city from Los Angeles in seventeen hours and fifty-five minutes.

Providing no further accidents have befallen Miss King, that gritty young woman in now well on her way to Salt Lake (City).

As for her note as being struck in the Salt Lake Flats, she is most likely talking about one of the many dried alkali lakes scattered about northern Nevada that can become muddy after a downpour.

Being "carried to Elko" doesn't make sense, but probably noted because the wire was sent from Elko, instead of Lovelock.

If she stayed on the main road across northern Nevada she would have gone through Winnemucca and dozen other places (with hotels) along the main east/west rail line before reaching Elko.

About two weeks later, there is another version of this story that she reported to the New York Times. It mentions about her run in with a mad coyote and struggling with it for three hours before being pick up. (Something she didn't mention in this telegram.) This is a highly unlikely event, and if like she said, she wouldn't have been continuing on her drive the next day.

Rabid coyotes were not uncommon in the desert. There was a Lovelock report of one 'attacking' a couple of miners at a mining site, but neither of the men were injured and they easily scared it away.

As for her trip, Anita apparently made it to New York in 49 days.

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