For many people in the country, the Conklin’s Gypsy Van was their introduction to RVs. Our streamlined motorhomes and camping trailers alike can currently trace their origins to the time between 1915 and 1930, when Americans’ need to relax by roughing it and their desire for a host of modern comforts first aligned with a motor camping industry that had the capacity to deliver both.


By the middle of the nineteen twenties, most Americans of somewhat more average means were tinkering together motor homes. Most of them were along the lines made popular by the Conklins. With the country's economy booming, some automobile and truck manufacturers also offered a limited number of fully complete motor homes. This included REO’s speed wagon bungalow and Hudson-Essex’s Pullman Coach.


Motor homes had two distinct limitations in spite of their comforts. This ultimately led to the creation of the RV’s understudy which was the trailer. A camper can not disconnect the house portion and drive the automobile part alone. Many motor homes also were large and limited to traveling only on automobile-friendly roads. This made wilder landscapes unreachable. As a consequence of these limitations and their somewhat high cost, motor homes remained a marginal choice among RV campers until the nineteen sixties. Trailers became the choice of people who had average means.


The earliest auto camping trailers appeared during the early nineteen hundreds but they were spartan affairs. They were a plain device for carrying tents, coolers, sleeping bags and other camping equipment. Motivated tinkerers soon began to attach tent canvas on a collapsible frame. This added cots for sleeping and cupboards for cooking equipment and created the first tent trailers. By the middle of the decade, it was possible to buy a fully equipped and manufactured one. In the nineteen twenties, Motor Camping, J.C. Long and John D. Long decided that urban Americans were possessed of the desire to be somewhere else and the solution was trailer camping. Tent trailering also attracted campers because of its convenience and ease.


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Over the next ten years, the company grew rapidly and needed to meet demand. To meet this demand, the trailers were manufactured on an assembly line modeled on the auto industry. In the nineteen thirties, Covered Wagon was the largest trailer producer in an expanding United States industry. It sold approximately six thousand units, with gross sales of three million dollars. By the end of the nineteen thirties, the solid body industry was making more than twenty thousand units per year and tent trailers had more or less disappeared.


In the present, the thirty-four foot Class A motorhome with multiple televisions, a king bed and two bathrooms is a version of the Conklin’s Gypsy Van and fifth-wheel toy haulers with popouts are the descendants of Arthur Sherman’s Covered Wagon. These are modernized versions of Bachelder’s horse and wagon camping. In the earlier part of the nineteen hundreds, an American's desire to escape modern pressures by traveling into nature intersected with their yearning to enjoy the comforts of modern life. This contradiction may have produced only frustration a great love of autos instead gave us recreational vehicles.


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Courtesy of Cuselleration