Ever wonder how old RVing is in the United States? Well, you can find out at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN. Launched as the RV/MH Heritage Foundation in 1972, the Hall of Fame and Museum boasts 100,000 sq. ft. of space with historical RVs, walls honoring notable notables in the industry, library, gift shop, RV toy displays, and event space.
I was mainly interested in RV Founders Hall, which has many historical RVs on display for education and public enjoyment. The whole venue was worth a five-hour drive to Elkhart. If you need a reason to go, I’ll give you five!
1. The collection is extensive.
Of course, a town that manufactures 80 percent of all RVs in North America would house some of the most impressive historical RVs ever made. The oldest vehicle I saw was a 1913 “Earl” Travel Trailer behind a Model “T” Ford (see below). Here are some more of my favorites:
2. You can step inside many of the exhibits.
Some of the RV entrances are roped off, but you can step inside many others and get a true feel for what they might have been like. Here are some of my favorite interiors:
3. They have RVs from famous people.
There are a few units that once belonged to some very famous celebrities. You can see the lounge car Paramount Studios had made for Mae West. The museum also has the trailer once owned by Charles Lindbergh. This trailer has two axles–quite the innovation at the time.
4. They actually have a library!
If you have a vintage trailer, head over to the library to research your RV’s background. The library is the only one of its kind in the United States. It has thousands of photos, periodicals, and other records that are used by RV industry writers, historians, and RV owners.
5. Take a walk after the museum.
If exploring Founders Hall, the library, Hall of Fame, or the gift shop wasn’t enough activity for you, enjoy the trail just south of the Hall of Fame and Event Center. Take a walk and mentally process all the RV nostalgia from just moments ago.
Start planning a road trip to Elkhart!
If you’re looking for an excuse to travel more this year, get yourself to Elkhart to see the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum. Check their website for winter and summer hours. Admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 6-16; they also have rates for senior citizens and families. If you’re not in a hurry to head back home, I insist that you go to The Artisan for dinner.
If you’re seriously looking for an RV and want to make your stay in Elkhart more productive, contact one of two of the area dealerships ahead of time and see if they can arrange for a factory tour. I’d start with Total Value RV and Goshen RV Supercenter; I can’t guarantee they’ll be able to arrange a tour, but they’re good people.
What vintage RVs have you seen? Leave a comment below. Also follow me @UnsettledE.