For the average RV enthusiast Trotter’s RV is your one stop shop for sales or service. There are, however, a fun loving group of RV enthusiasts that are not so average. If you fall into this category rest assured, Trotter’s RV is still here to assist but both the owner as well as their professionals may be a bit challenged when it comes to repairs. I am talking about the folks who prefer vintage trailers and that belong to a group known as Tin Can Tourists.
Dating to 1919, Tin Can Tourists is a vast international community for the owners of vintage trailer owners to connect and learn from each other. They maintain an active Facebook page, curate trailer brand information, provide assistance to people looking to insure a vintage RV or to learn its value. They also host interesting, fun and informative rallies throughout the world.
Leroy Mills, the Royal Secretary, published a bit about the organization in the official program of the 24th Annual Convention that was held in Tampa, Florida, February 1947. He noted that during the first two decades of the 20th century auto touring was quite popular but the motorist was left to their own devices when preparing for the adventure. Options were limited and in many aspects were little changed from the era of the Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail. Campgrounds were largely nonexistent, and many travelers simply secured permission to stay on the village square, on school or church grounds, and even in cemeteries. Water and permission to build a fire were primary prerequisites.
By the late teens and the era of the named highways (Lincoln Highway, National Old Trails Road, etc.) many towns and villages had established free municipal campgrounds. As MIlls noted, this allowed for better control and prevented issues that had become problematic; camping sites littered with refuse, campfires left burning and the use of materials such as fencing for firewood. There was also a dollars and cents reason for the campgrounds, tourists spent money.
In late 1919 a small group of automobile campers gathered to discuss creation of an organization that could provide resources for the like minded traveler. In January 1920, an organizational meeting to place in De Soto Park in Tampa, Florida, and a core set of principles was established for the group – “to unite fraternally all auto campers, to provide clean and wholesome entertainment at all meetings and to spread the gospel of cleanliness in all camps and to help enforce the rules governing all public campgrounds.” A constitution and by-laws were adopted and officers were elected.
If you are an RV enthusiast, check out the Tin Can Tourists. Their website is fascinating, informative and inspiring. There is a list of recommended campgrounds, sources for vintage trailer restoration supplies, history of various travel brands and even information about appraisers as well as insurance. And you might even consider becoming a member of one of the oldest organizations dedicated to the RV enthusiast.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America