RV History

I enjoy studying about RV history.  It is a lesson on innovation, determination, and survival.  I have found many interesting people and stories connected to the campers of the past and cannot wait to share these with you.

The RV industry celebrated it's 100th anniversary in 2010 and is poised for another 100 years of camping, travel, and fun.  Although the industry is over 100 years old, the history of RV-ing goes back even farther.  

The concept of RV-ing dates back through the centuries.  At any point in history you can find examples of folks enjoying the outdoors.  Many of these early "RV-ers" would travel on horseback or in horse drawn wagons.  Though this is not the same concept as today, our beloved industry can definitely trace its roots back to way before 1910. 

Courtesy of Wikipedia

  • Although our site is exclusively devoted to travel trailers, we are going to take a slight detour and examine the history of the entire RV Industry.  I believe that there are far too many interesting stories to limit our focus to just travel trailers in this section.

RV History Through the Decades

We are going to look at the history of recreational vehicles in various ways.  One of the more interesting ways will be to break down the past 100 plus years in decades.   

The RV industry made many changes throughout the years and each decade has had its share of innovations, changes, and challenges.  You will learn, as I did, that the industry not only survived but often excelled in situations that threatened to cause its extinction.

Click below to read about how the RV industry grew and changed in each decade.

  • 1961-1970
  • 1971-1980
  • 1981-1990
  • 1991-2000
  • 2001-2010
  • 2011-Present
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The RV industry has had to face the great depression, World War II, and the oil embargo of the 1970's.  With each of these setbacks it not only found a way to stay afloat, but grew even stronger than before by adapting to the situations and reinveting  itself.

I personally think the fact that the industry has been able to survive in conditions that could have caused it's demise is rooted in the human desire be free and move around at will.  Today RV-ing is more popular than ever.  These vehicles of freedom are being enjoyed all over the world and in places no one would have ever imagined.

Pioneers & Interesting Characters

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Another fascinating facet of RV history is the people who designed and built them.  Many of these industry pioneers have designed features still in use today.

One of the most notable faces is Wally Byam, founder of Airstream Travel Trailers.  This man was not only a trailer manufacturer, but a committed RV-er who would lead caravans all over the world for many years.  Wally, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting characters in the history of the RV Industry.

There are many other interesting folks who's contributions to our industry have enriched our lives through new levels of comfort and convenience in these units.  These people all have a place in the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN.

So Many Manufacturers, So Little Time

Courtesy of Wikipedia

RV history is filled with many manufacturers who have come and gone.  A few, like Airstream and Shasta still remain to this day.  We will look at some of the more notable companies and examine the contributions that are still present in the modern RVs of today.

One company that has made many contributions to the RV industry is the Coleman Company.  They are more than coolers and sleeping bags, their contributions to the RV industry have helped bring many of the comforts that we enjoy today.  I found their story very exciting and believe you will too.

Enjoy the Journey!

I invite you to spend some time traveling with us through the history of the RV industry.  Hopefully, you will find the stories and facts that I uncovered to be as interesting and fun as I have.

Written By: Scott

Exploring Travel Trailers>RV History