100th Anniversary of the RV – Click above for historical high-res image gallery (69 images)

It seems appropriate while we celebrate the last vestiges of summer on this Labor Day weekend that we also acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the recreational vehicle, also known as the RV. The summer season and RVs go hand in hand, and people have motored across America in mobile homes since 1910. RV historians say that year was when just a few companies began building the precursors to what we now know as recreational vehicles, thus marking the birth of the RV industry. Those companies include Pierce-Arrow from New York (above, 1910 Touring Landau), the Los Angeles Trailer Works and Michigan's own Auto-Kamp Trailers of Saginaw.

2011 Sunseeker RVThe RV industry has survived wars, tough economic times and oil crises and still come out no worse for wear. Credit the American spirit of adventure, our love of travel or maybe just the unique freedom one experiences while traveling without a tether to your permanent residence.

If I'm waxing too poetic about what some consider to be just ill-constructed boxes of balsa wood on wheels, know that I am an RV owner myself (right, 2011 Forest River Sunseeker) and have known the joys of sitting around a campfire in the forest roasting s'mores one minute and playing Rock Band in an air-conditioned living room the next. It may sound like sacrilege to hard-core outdoorsmen who like sleeping on the ground, but it makes perfect sense to an RV enthusiast.

So, in honor of the RV's 100th birthday, we've assembled a gallery chronicling its history courtesy of the RV industry's centennial website. Enjoy the trip through time.


Touring Landau, 1910
  • Touring Landau, 1910
  • Touring Landau, 1910
Popular Mechanics ad for Pop-Up Camper, circa 1910
  • Popular Mechanics ad for Pop-Up Camper, circa 1910
  • Popular Mechanics ad for Pop-Up Camper, circa 1910
Adams Motor Bungalo, 1917
  • Adams Motor Bungalo, 1917
  • Adams Motor Bungalo, 1917
Tampa, FL Campground
  • Tampa, FL Campground
  • Tampa, FL Campground
Historic Campground
  • Historic Campground
  • Historic Campground
Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
Early Towable
  • Early Towable
  • Early Towable
Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
Housecar, 1915
  • Housecar, 1915
  • Housecar, 1915
Auto Camper
  • Auto Camper
  • Auto Camper
Early Pop-Up Trailer
  • Early Pop-Up Trailer
  • Early Pop-Up Trailer
Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (side view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (side view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (side view)
Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
Zaglemeyer Kampcar, circa 1920
  • Zaglemeyer Kampcar, circa 1920
  • Zaglemeyer Kampcar, circa 1920
Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
Florida Campground, circa 1920
  • Florida Campground, circa 1920
  • Florida Campground, circa 1920
Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar, 1928
  • Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar, 1928
  • Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar, 1928
Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
Housecar, circa 1926
  • Housecar, circa 1926
  • Housecar, circa 1926
Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Housecar, circa 1930s
Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
Travel Trailer, circa 1930
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1930
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1930
Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
Ford Housecar, 1931
  • Ford Housecar, 1931
  • Ford Housecar, 1931
Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
Covered Wagon, circa 1932
  • Covered Wagon, circa 1932
  • Covered Wagon, circa 1932
Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream, 1933
Airstream, 1935
  • Airstream, 1935
  • Airstream, 1935
Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
Schult Sportsman, 1936
  • Schult Sportsman, 1936
  • Schult Sportsman, 1936
Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
Book Wagon, circa 1938
  • Book Wagon, circa 1938
  • Book Wagon, circa 1938
Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
Liberty Towable
  • Liberty Towable
  • Liberty Towable
Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
Westcraft Towable, 1949 (exterior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (exterior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (exterior)
Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
Truck Camper, circa early 1950s
  • Truck Camper, circa early 1950s
  • Truck Camper, circa early 1950s
Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
Holiday Rambler, 1954
  • Holiday Rambler, 1954
  • Holiday Rambler, 1954
Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
Towable, circa 1957
  • Towable, circa 1957
  • Towable, circa 1957
Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
Pop-up Camper, circa late 1950s
  • Pop-up Camper, circa late 1950s
  • Pop-up Camper, circa late 1950s
Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
Frank Motorhome, 1961
  • Frank Motorhome, 1961
  • Frank Motorhome, 1961
Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
Banner Motorhome, circa 1960
  • Banner Motorhome, circa 1960
  • Banner Motorhome, circa 1960
Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
Corvair Ultravan, circa 1960
  • Corvair Ultravan, circa 1960
  • Corvair Ultravan, circa 1960
Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
Lo-Liner Aristocrat, circa 1960s
  • Lo-Liner Aristocrat, circa 1960s
  • Lo-Liner Aristocrat, circa 1960s
GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
Winnebago Winnie Wagon, 1974
  • Winnebago Winnie Wagon, 1974
  • Winnebago Winnie Wagon, 1974
Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
Bluebird Wanderlodge, 1970
  • Bluebird Wanderlodge, 1970
  • Bluebird Wanderlodge, 1970
GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
Type C Motorhome, circa 1970
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1970
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1970
Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
Winnebago Itasca, 1982
  • Winnebago Itasca, 1982
  • Winnebago Itasca, 1982
Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
Type C Motorhome, circa 1990s
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1990s
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1990s
Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
Travel Trailer, circa 1990
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1990
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1990
Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
2011 Forest River Sunseeker
  • 2011 Forest River Sunseeker
  • 2011 Forest River Sunseeker

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