Transcript for The Great American Eclipse sweeps across the US
But we are here in Charleston where we witnessed that once in a lifetime cosmic event, along with millions of Americans today. The total solar eclipse. The first seen coast to coast across America in nearly a century. This nasa satellite image showing the shadow of the moon moving across the country. Millions drawing together to take in the view from Oregon to Chicago. To times square in New York City. Tonight, the massive traffic as millions try too make their way home. ABC's senior national correspondent, Matt Gutman, leading us off. Reporter: After so much anticipation, it arrived right on schedule. The celestial matinee turning night to day. Lincoln city, Oregon, the first stop for totality. Oh, it is just absolutely spectacular. Look how dark it is. How quiet it is. It is like being in the eye of a hurricane. Reporter: Next up, the place known as solar city. I'm almost speechless, the crowd here is absolutely ecstatic. I'm going to have our camera man, Glen, turn down the lights. Turn it off, Glen -- lets see how dark is really is. It's pitch black here! This is the most incredible thing I've ever seen. Reporter: Madras, Oregon going dark for 2:04, and then that sliver of sun coming back. Of sun coming back there are thousands of people here. 100,000 people just in this part of Oregon, outside of madras, feasting their eyes on a spectacle many of us will never get to see again. The darkness marching east, traveling an average of 1,800 miles per hour. And to a place known as "Carhenge" in alliance, Nebraska -- American cars forming a replica of stonehenge -- built by a family 30 years ago. 38 cars rescued from nearby farms, from the dumps. They painted them all gray. But right now you can't see the color. You can just see the outline of them under that extraordinary moment there. The spectacle landing in city after city, including the so-called capital of the eclipse -- carbondale, Illinois. Reporter: But carbondale, which should have had two minutes and 41 seconds of darkness, darkened by something else -- clouds. You guys have brought us into the drama, and you have 45 seconds there, and it all depends on the weather system above you. Thousands who traveled there, crestfallen. They are looking up because this might be the only and best shot of it they get. But then, with just seconds left -- the clouds part There it is! There it is! What an extraordinary gift, the final few seconds. Reporter: In Kelly, Kentucky -- something else emerges in the sky. We can see Venus here at this point in Kelly, Kentucky. I love the fact that you can see Venus. Reporter: Even the president stepping out of the white house to watch. Finally, the last major stop for the great American eclipse -- Charleston, South Carolina. The clouds cooperating. You know, it really puts us in our place as far as our role in the cosmos, doesn't it? The fact that we here on Earth are part of something much bigger. Reporter: And then sky gazers starting to make the long journey home. In remote, Rigby, Idaho, traffic for mime. This goes as far as the eye can see. Reporter: This traffic jam started precisely as the eclipse ended. People had packed, gotten into their cars. One family headed back to California. How long do you expect that to take you with this traffic? About 20 hours. 20 hours. Worth it? 20 hours. Oh, yeah! Reporter: As it was for a nation of Americans soaking up the great American eclipse. That was a resounding answer from that family there, Matt. Matt Gutman joining us live from mattress, Oregon, and stunning where you are. Hours later, those lines and that traffic, people still trying to get out? Reporter: That's right, David. Earlier we saw the great American eclipses but this afternoon, we got to see the great American escape, and tonight, the northwest in gridlock. It took people over three hours just to get out of the parking lot here tonight. I asked one motorist, was it worth it? She responded it was totality worth it. Got to have a sense of humor, David. We get it, Matt. The great trip home. Thank you. There were so many powerful, breath taking images.
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