Early Travel trailers, motorhomes.

Trailer Ahoy! 1937 Book about traveling with a travel trail in 1937

I just ran across this 260-page book in an antique shop in Pennsylvania.  I started leafing through it and couldn’t put it down.  It was a story of one family’s discovery of the wonders ot travel by travel trailer, complete with pictures.  The language was “quaint”, the camper pictures looked pretty old and the cars pulling them looked like the ones you usually see in a museum.  “How old was this book, anyway?”  A quick look in the front said it was written by Charles Edgar Nash and published in 1937 !

I had no idea that Travel Trailers were that popular in 1937.  When I got to the part about the Nash family’s short wave radio and the “cheery fire of chestnut wood burning in the iron stove”, I knew I had to have the book to share with other modern-day camping enthusiasts.

A brief excerpt from, “Trailer Ahoy!”  follows.




  1. Cycles of American Travel……………………15
  2. Development of the Trailer……………………57
  3. The Fastest Growing Business in America……69
  4. Why a Trailer………………………………….79
  5. State Trailer Regulations……………………..137
  6. Trailer Camp Grounds………………………..185
  7. Trailer Hints…………………………………. 197
  8. The National Parks……………………………211
  9. Digest of Parks; Opening and Closing Dates…214
  10. Trailer Facilities in Parks and Monuments……242
  11.  The Trailer for the Photographer………………249
  12.  The Trailer for the Scientist……………………257
  13.  The Trailer for the Artist………………………259



TRAILER AHOY                                                                   p. 67



… And then there is the vacationist, from the casual week-ender to the fortunate school-teacher type who is often left to his or her own devices for the entire summer season.  Last, but certainly not least, is the retired farmer, business man or professional man, and the pensioner in every walk of life.  These folks are held by few, if any, ties.  Their lives lie before them to enjoy in any way their pocket books will permit.

Deep down in the heart of every one of us is a desire to travel and see strange new sights, new people, and new places.  “When I can afford it, I am going to California – Mexico – Canada – Florida – Maine”…it matters not where.  This is the standard statement of rich and poor alike.  Money, or lack of it, is not the real deterrent to such dreams, many, or rather most of which, are never realized.  No, more than one individual has amassed enough money, or has a sufficient income through a pension or an annuity to travel for the rest of his or her life, but until the trailer came along they didn’t do it.

In the first place, all arguments and travel advertisements not-with-standing, the life of a traveler is not home life.  From no angle, even the scenic one, is it a bed of roses.  Foods, cooking, water and beds vary so, regardless of attendant expense that the traveler is invariably “glad to get home.”

But the trailer has changed this picture completely.  You take your home with you.  You cook at home.  You sleep every night in your own bed between your own sheets.  You read your own books and magazines.  You listen to your own radio.  And your own loved ones are with you to enjoy every moment along the way.





…. Trailers were shown in every automobile show of any size this year and in every case they literally “stole the show” by the admission of the automobile men themselves.  Interested visitors and prospective purchasers swarmed around the trailers, examining every little detail of their design and construction.  For some this was a first intimate contact with a trailer.  Others were noting the many improvements a year’s development had brought about.  And people of means were as prominent there as the average citizen.  It was a series of  triumphs for the trailer industry with the metal-clad trailers in the lead.

Most of the factory-built trailers on the road today are constructed largely of wood, straight-grained oak and airplane spruce sheathed with plywood all the way from fir to mahogany, or with some form of composition board having high tensile strength and insulating properties.

Tomorrow’s construction is definitely pointing towards all-steel framework and an interior sheathing of aluminum, duralumin, stainless steel or any one of our modern strong, light metals.  Weight and maximum square footage of living room must be constantly borne in mind, and the refinements are bound to work towards all the up-to-date safety and beauty factors…

All the present day factory built trailers are wired for electricity, having connections for 110-volt alternating current and for the 6-8 volt direct current from the automobile battery.  Some feature two distinct circuits, one handling the high voltage and the other the low.  Others use a single circuit and depend upon a change of bulbs and the use of a transformer, which is provided….

Our little family of four took a September trip into Canada, about which we have a few things to say later, but we only had two clear days out of two weeks.  The rest of the time it poured.  The weather outside our trailer was miserable while we were in Quebec.  It was cold and windy and the rain descended in sheets.  Underfoot the ground was as soft and slippery as grease.

Yet in spite of the depressing scene outside, inside a cheery fire of chestnut wood was burning merrily in the iron stove.  The trailer was a warm and comfortable as a New England fireside. My beautiful young wife, Jane, was playing with five month old baby, Julia, and five year old son, Gessner, was looking at an animal book.

I turned on the radio and as there was some static on the broadcast band I tried short wave ….  An aerial was built into the roof of our trailer as standard equipment. We were using this together with a hundred foot portable aerial, which I rigged outside to the nearest tree.  The auxiliary aerial did help, but I found that I could switch it off and still get most of the above stations very clearly….


TRAILER AHOY                                                                            p. 79





…. Is it hard to pull a trailer?  This seems to be the first question that enters everyone’s mind.  The answer is, NO!  The smallest standard automobile built in America can pull the largest factory-built trailer with the greatest of ease.  When we say “pull it”, we mean pull it anywhere an intelligent driver would take a car, through the Rockies, over the Continental Divide, or even up Pikes Peak if there was a reason to do so.

We use the word “trailer” as a comprehensive term, covering the two-wheeled rolling home known as a semi-trailer, which balances on the hitch behind the towing car, and the true trailer, which has four wheels and is completely self-sustaining.

In proof of this assertion our present trailer is four-wheeled, weighs 2,450 pounds unloaded, has two large rooms and a bathroom and is 22 feet long.  We pull it with the most inexpensive V-8 coupe on the market and we have never encountered the hill or mountain, which we could not take quickly, easily and without a moment’s trepidation on the part of the driver.

Only yesterday we stopped a trailerite driving exactly the same make and model car as ours.  He was towing an $8,000 trailer that weighed half a ton more than ours and he had towed it handily from coast to coast and from Maine to Florida.

Modern automobile engines are so powerful…



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