Monday, May 19, 2014

Workshop in Elkhart and the RV/MH Hall of Fame

We left the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen this morning, where the Escapade was held, and drove about 15 miles to the Elkhart Campground in Elkhart. We arrived just in time for me to attend Nick Russell’s self-publishing workshop. It was the first time for him to present it, and he offered it free! I attended the morning session only, as the afternoon was focused on book and e-book publishing, and I don’t plan to write a book. At least not soon. But the morning session was spot-on for me, as it covered blogging, website publishing, apps, niche guides, specialty tabloids, etc. I learned a lot. Thanks, Nick!


After lunch and Don’s nap, he and I visited the RV/MH Hall of Fame. It’s been about 6 years ago since we were there, and it has grown a lot!


There’s an interesting 1/24 scale model of an RV manufacturing plant. We have both visited numerous plants, so we knew the process, but it was nice to see it from a bird’s eye view.


All the steps are explained by a recorded message, from the chassis prep, installation of the holding tanks and wheels, flooring and carpeting, fixtures, and interior walls…


…To roofing, electrical wiring, insulation, etc.


There’s a picture of the TIME Magazine cover dated July 13, 1998 entitled “RV Capital Of The World” with the picture taken on Main Street, Elkhart, Indiana.


We spent most of our time in the exhibit of early RVs. The oldest travel trailer in the world is first – 1913 “Earl” Travel Trailer and Model “T” Ford. The blue and black Model “T” is one of the last produced with a choice of color; after 1913 they were all black.


The dining table seats four and converts into a double bed.


This tiny 10-ft. Airstream was created as a prototype to be sold to the European Caravan market, but Wally Byam, founder of Airstream Inc., decided not to go into production with it, so this is one-of-a-kind.



This 1931 Model AA Ford Housecar was discovered in a barn in Alabama in 1999, and was restored and donated to the museum in 2003. It was called the Tennessee Traveler by the donor. The engine ran fine even after having been stored for over 40 years.


Tent trailers have been in existence since 1916.




There are 5 bunks inside this one, counting the rear slide-out.



There are lots of small travel trailers, dating back to the mid-1930’s.







And several teardrop-shaped trailers, still popular in more modern versions as they can be towed behind economy cars.



This 1985 Fleetwood Bounder is the final prototype for the motor home that was released in 1987. It was the first to place basement storage in Class A motor homes.


This is one of the first “bunkhouse” trailers, and one of the first to include a tiny bathroom in a camping trailer.


Don took a seat beside Poker Alice.


Poker Alice was quite a colorful character. Read all about her by clicking the link. She was born in England, ended up in South Dakota, and outlived three husbands. She had seven children with her second husband, and she smoked a cigar. This popular story about her was repeated on the sign:

Around 1910 Alice bought an old house on Bear Butte Creek near the Fort Mead Army Post and opened a brothel. The house was small and needed extra rooms and “fresh girls” to perk up the business, so Alice went to a bank for a loan of $2,000. As the story goes, and in words supposedly spoken by Alice:

“I went to the bank for a $2,000 loan to build on an addition and go to Kansas City to recruit some fresh girls. When I told the banker I’d repay the loan in two years, he scratched his head for a minute then let me have the money. In less than a year I was back in his office paying off the loan. He asked how I was able to come up with the money so fast. I took a couple chaws on the end of my cigar and told him, ‘Well it’s this way. I knew the Grand Army of the Republic was having an encampment here in Sturgis. And I knew that the state Elks convention would be here too. But I plumb forgot about all those Methodist preachers coming to town for a conference’.”

This rare 1935 Bowlus Road Chief (less than 50 remain) was designed by Hawley Bowlus, a world famous sailplane builder. According to the sign, “When Airstream took over the design in 1936, they removed the boat-tail feature and moved the entry from the front to the side.”




This 1931 housecar belonged to Mae West. She sat on the back porch in a rocking chair.



This picture speaks for itself.



There were many, many more interesting items, but you’ll have to visit the museum to see them yourself, as this blog is getting too long.

Our final event of the day was to have dinner with our good friends and Alaska companions (in 2011) Gary and Mary Olson, and Larry and Marilyn Forbes.


Don feels a cold coming on, so we started him on Zicam and generic Theraflu, plus cough drops. I hope he’s able to minimize the symptoms as we will travel about 171 miles tomorrow to Camp Perry in Port Clinton, OH.


  1. I bet you didn't get our geocache in the parking lot :-) We love the RV Hall of Fame . You did a great job telling us about it including some new features that were not there wben we last visited.

  2. Thanks for a great tour of the RV Hall of Fame. Sure interesting to see the pics of all the older rigs.

    My new blog address:
    Rick’s Bits ‘n Bytes, Pics and News


Please tell me what you think, either here, on Facebook, or by email. I *love* comments!