Between 1914 and 1924, American giants explored the woods and rural byways of America, in then Model T type vehicles. Some say they started the recreational camping craze that persists today.
Their arrival may first have been witnessed as a dusty caravan, jostling along some unpaved country road; or perhaps you and your horse stumbled upon their encampment, under aromatic balsam and fir trees-dinner al fresco tantalizing your nose.
Thomas Edison usually navigated the entourage in the lead vehicle with his trusty compass. Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and famed environmentalist and prolific nature author John Burroughs in tow-all at a time when car travel over long distances was fraught with many hardships. Not to worry though, America’s preeminent mechanic, Henry Ford, was at the ready to keep the caravan rolling; and of course they rode on Firestone tires. Mr. Burroughs regaled the gang with his nature stories and keen observations.
It is all nicely told and interpreted at:
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It was these trips that got the Edison juices flowing for using native plants as a feedstock for artificial rubber-Tom’s last great research project.
In later years, the wives accompanied them on their eclectic sojourns, unstructured on purpose to promote relaxation, discussion and a re-connecting with nature. Ford even designed for their convenience two motorized “chuck wagons” to accompany the vagabond adventures.
The motor car decentralized the railroad, much like cell phones did to hard-wired telephone exchanges and other forms of traditional communications like “watching TV”. These men had changed the world and were exploring how it brought rural America into focus, and accessible. Perhaps it brings back memories and the excitement of the summer camps of your youth! Kind of reminds me of Willie Nelson’s iconic song … ”On the Road Again”. The vagabonds had their own kind of generational music.