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
Tampa, FL Campground
  • Tampa, FL Campground
  • Tampa, FL Campground
Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
Auto Camper
  • Auto Camper
  • Auto Camper
Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream, 1933
Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s

[Source: NY Times, RVcentennial.org]

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