Sunday, August 16, 2009

RV There Yet?

Rising out of a dusty field just south of Elkhart, Indiana's Turnpike, a two story glass behemoth sits waiting for those who have a love for the road. The RV/MH Hall of Fame (Recreational Vehicle/Motorhome) opened two years ago at this location to honor the people who worked so hard to create the RV industry and those whose love keeps it alive.

Denny and I toured the Hall of Fame with RVing friends Bill and Diane, wandering among several decades worth of tent campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels and motorhomes. Each unit displayed had a brief history (sometimes too brief) of that vehicle and some RVs you could walk through. I would have liked to have seen on the walls personal photographs of actual vintage RVs and their owners like those I've seen in RV publications, especially of those RVS "homemade" by inventive folks. Perhaps it's something the operators of the museum will consider in the future. There's a lot of inventiveness on display here, but it also shows there's not a whole lot one can do in a RV as many of the features from seventy years ago are still seen today.

An early travel trailer hitched to a Model T Ford. What we found more interesting than the travel trailer was the fact that the Model T was dark blue; I was under the impression that all Model Ts came in black only.

A early 20th century tent camper. This one originally had wagon wheels, later ones used tires. Still, it was little more than a canvas tent on a raised platform.

This "covered wagon" has an exterior covered in "leatherette" and the roof was covered in canvas. Inside was lovely dark wood with a surprising number of cabinets. This manufacturer was the largest producers of trailers in 1935, sometime building 40 to 50 units a day.

Another "Covered Wagon" model travel trailer. Like the RV industry today, you had to appeal to the populace.

A 1928 Pierce Arrow Housecar, which was one of only three built before the crash of 1929. My thought was, this vehicle didn't know if it was a motorhome...

...or a caboose! Very snazzy rear end which reminded me of the rear of train cars. I felt there should be a politician standing there stumping for votes.

I loved the sleek art deco look of this 1937 "Star" model Hunt housecar. Built by Hollywood cinematographer and producer Roy Hunt, it was called the Star because of its hood ornament. There is another Hunt Housecar that has a turtle hood ornament that is otherwise identical to this one.

Bathrooms are a necessary evil and the one in the Star Housecar was rather unique; it swung out as a kind of porta-potty. Not fun to empty, though.

Jumping to modern day RVs in a separate hall, an eye-catching entry was the "Eco-friendly" travel trailer. Made of composite materials (read plastic) rather than wood and wood by-products, there is virtually no formaldehyde and strange fumes in this unit. The Evergreen Recreational Company claims this means a more long-lasting and durable rig as it is resistant to mold, rot and mildew. Good for them!

Itaska has come out with a small motorhome that has bunk beds in a sleeping car style configuration as well as a regular bed in the bedroom. There are a few tricks still left up the sleeves of RV designers! (Skippy Mom are you seeing this????)

While the museum was not as elaborate or as detailed as I would like, it was still an interesting journey back to the beginnings of the RV industry and lifestyle. It's definitely worth a stop!


Val said...

These are GREAT pictures! Don't remember if I've told you, but RVing is a dream we have, and we WILL get there someday:) I've always loved the vintage ones. Something to be said for simplicity.

We had a motorhome when I was a child, and some of my most favorite memories were made traveling in it. My grandparents had a circa 50's travel trailer too. So many memories. Thanks for sharing!

Soulknitting said...

I've always wanted a 16-18 Airstream. I just KNOW there is one somewhere in my future. Someday, I want to try and visit almost every National Park. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Love the old time RVs. How very interesting.

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