Many years ago, people willingly put themselves into small metal rooms on wheels and then drove those rooms into the wild for fun. Known then as “tin can tourists,” travel trailer enthusiasts started popping up in the U.S. in the 1920s, as nature tourism and car ownership started booming. By the ’50s and ’60s, families were packing into their personal tin cans and taking off for the wilderness.
If that sounds like the life ideal, you can pick up one of your own for a couple thousand bucks. Otherwise, live vicariously through these Wes Anderson-esque retro snapshots.
In the above photo: It’s unclear whether this camper ever actually hit the road, based on how perfectly all of that stuff on the walls and table is situated. They either nailed it down like the walls of a Guy Fieri restaurant, or never moved the thing from the driveway. Either way, you just know some footsie was played between takes of this photo shoot.
Golly. Take a gander at this camp setup in Arches National Park, Utah. This day in May 1972 looks frickin’ perfect for taking the Winnebago out. This was back when men tucked in their shirts and wore their best loafers to grill. If that plastic tablecloth doesn’t give you some feels, you’re too young to be reading this website, get out of here.
This photo captures a 1920s family living in the Koreshan Unity, a communal utopia formed by Cyrus Teed in the 1870s. Teed chose Estero, Florida for their “New Jerusalem,” but membership never topped 300 and declined after his death in 1908. Koreshanity combined odd beliefs in Cellular Cosmogony (his form of Hollow Earth theory), immortality, reincarnation, celibacy and alchemy. Anyway, cool camper, guys.
We don’t have much to go on here. There’s this young rebel sunning herself in the blurry foreground, and a canned ham camper in the background, pulled by a sweet Buick or some other boat of a car. Look at the white walls on those tires, goodness. If we had to guess, and we do, this is right around 1955-1960. Or it’s 2016, and someone has great taste in cars, campers, lawn chairs and film camera equipment.
Florida knows what’s up when it comes to retro campers. This one’s from Sarasota Trailer Park, once one of the largest trailer parks in the world. Now that title belongs to Suncoast Estates further down the Florida coast, but damn if these ladies aren’t bringing it in December 1948.