Earthroamer, SportsMobile . . . Eat Your Hearts Out: A Glimpse at Early American Overlanding

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How old is the car camper?  The overlander?  The family of dirtbaggers? What about "roughing it in style?" Or glamping?

Older than you think, if you're clued into extravagances like Earthroamers and SportsMobiles. While Winnebagos and Airstreams go back 50 years now, the whole scene has been around as long as the automobile itself.

Think about it, it's not so strange or funny. Go back in time a little further and you have covered wagons and stagecoaches and The Oregon Trail. Those folks, certainly the women, wanted to do it in style with - in the very least - a tablecloth to cover the oak barrel used as a trailside lunch table.  Sleeping on the ground upon a Thermarest?  How modern.

According to Stephen Mark for the National Park Service (I'm not kidding about that guy's name), "The auto camping fad peaked between 1915 and 1922. Spurred, in part, by the fear of breaking down on poor roads, possibly miles from any town with a hotel, travelers began outfitting their vehicles with camping equipment."

If you didn't have the time or the wherewithal to outfit your own vehicle, you could just buy yourself a turnkey auto-camper. Your grand kids could save their pennies one day and pony up for an Earthroamer.  Behold the Zagelmeyer Kamper-Kar.  This beauty is built on a Model T, offers a kitchen inside, plenty of standing room and there's much more to the story from Kit Foster:

The advertisement reads, "A completely equipped, strongly constructed standard camping body easily mounted on your own chassis . . . most de luxe camping outfit ever conceived.  The low price will surprise you."


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