The history of the American trailers is one of the most interesting aspects of USA culture. We prepared over 100 historical photos of American trailers. Experience the magic of American Caravan Culture and take a look at the chronicle of the 40-year period from the 1940s to 1980s.
To learn more about the history of travel trailers, we go back to 1910 when early adventurers would place their tents on platforms on wheels to create the first tent trailers. At this time, most cars only reached 15 mph, so campers could even leave the tents on the platforms to drive home.
By the middle of the 1920s, many Americans of somewhat more average means were tinkering together trailers and with the economy booming, several automobile and truck manufacturers also offered a limited number of fully complete motorhomes.
The design of American travel trailers continued to develop in the 1930s. During the Great Depression, many could no longer afford to keep their house and car. Campers allowed people to live and sleep in their vehicles, cutting their expenses in half. Living in their cars also allowed impoverished families to travel across cities and states, seeking work.
World War II affected the trailer industry just as drastically as it did everyone else. The USA needed so many resources for the war that the government began rations and many factories were retooled to produce supplies for the war.
By 1940 trailer sales had slowed drastically. After so many builders entered the market in the mid-1930s it was a bit saturated. For the trailer industry, all private sales to the public were forbidden. With declining sales and then a world war, the trailer industry was in jeopardy.
The 1950s proved to be a time of unparalleled growth and gorgeous innovative designs which is why many call it the Golden Age. Soon, traveling groups emerged and started to rise in popularity.
One of the most famous traveling groups to exist were the Four Vagabonds, which was a recreational camping group formed by Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and John Burrough that traveled the country together. Their adventures became so popular that, after several years of media coverage, they ceased their expeditions due to the large, cumbersome crowds they were drawing.
As America entered the first years of the 60s, the industry continued to search for better materials and designs for use in travel trailers body and trailer manufacturing and for more efficient ways to move freight. As the 1970s ended, trailer manufacturers again were prospering — enjoying a record year in 1979. The truck equipment industry was growing, fueled in part by the unprecedented popularity of light trucks and accessories.
Perhaps the dominant force that changed the world of American travel trailer body and trailer manufacturers in the 1980s was the explosive growth of computer technology. Computer-controlled machine tools swept away the industry’s remaining vestiges of blacksmith shops. Production accuracies and repeatability that previously were unattainable became routine as computers controlled press brakes and turret presses.