Exploring america – an outdoor lifestyle

Exploring America – An Outdoor Lifestyle

Exploring America – An Outdoor Lifestyle

At the beginning of the early 1900′s families packed up their meager belongings and loaded them into the classic American-made covered wagon, which was built by Studebaker. For most Americans who made the journey west, however, putting down roots brought an end to their wandering days. Aside from an occasional trip, most settlers rarely journeyed more than a few miles from home. Primitive roads and an agrarian lifestyle kept them down on the farm. Although Americans had freedom of movement, few had the means to exercise it. Yet sweeping social changes at the beginning of the twentieth century would once again give Americans the opportunity to embrace their treasured liberty.

The development of mechanized farming, which reduced the need for farm laborers, led many people to look for jobs in the city. This along with the push for an 8 hour work day and more importantly, vacations, gave Americans something they had rarely experienced: free time.

President Teddy Roosevelt extolled the virtues of an outdoor lifestyle and established more national parks for all to enjoy. But how to get there? Transportation by horse and buggy was to slow, and the cost of train travel, meals, and lodging was beyond the means of most Americans. The solution would come from a revolutionary product offered by Henry Ford: the Model T, the first automobile that was affordable and truly available to the masses.

Soon, Americans took to the road in their Tin Lizzie’s–as Model Ts were called–and they never looked back. The first things these motor-powered explorers discovered was that the roads had not improved much since their parents had trudged along them in their covered wagons. The second thing they discovered was that if they actually got a few miles down the road, there was no place to spend the night. Even if they made it to town, there was no guarantee there would be a place to stay that was within their means.


Americans have a tradition of overcoming obstacles. Now that they had automobiles, inadequate roads and uncertain lodging weren’t going to keep them from exercising their liberty for long. To solve the lodging problem, mom and dad strapped canvas tents and lean-tos to their Model T running boards and loaded up their backseat with the kids, a variety of food packed in tin cans, and canteens full of water. It wasn’t long before savvy entrepreneurs started making all manner of camping accessories for cars, including stoves, folding furniture, and washing equipment. For those that did not want to bother with a tent, the Outers Equipment Company of Chicago made a contraption that turned a car seat into a bed.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Roads Act, which appropriated $75 million for the improvement of post roads, and soon thousands of “auto campers” were roaming America’s highways. It wasn’t long before someone mounted a tent to an old artillery trailer, and the camping trailer was born. Human beings are, of course, social animals, and in short order, auto campers found other auto campers. In Florida, in 1919, these like-minded folks formed the first trailer club, the Tin Can Tourists.

America’s elite even participated in the craze. Aircraft manufacturer Glenn Curtiss built a trailer for upper-crusts types that he dubbed the Aerocar (prices ranged from $3000.00-$8,000.00). The tow vehicle for the Aerocar was designed to be driven by a chauffer, while passengers rolled down the highway in high style drinking champagne in luxurious leather chairs.

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