Happy 100th birthday to the RV

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
  • 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
  • Touring Landau, 1910
  • Popular Mechanics ad for Pop-Up Camper, circa 1910
  • Tampa, FL Campground
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Auto Camper
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s

[Source: NY Times, RVcentennial.org]

Share This Photo X