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RV/MH Hall Of Fame

A Walk through RV History

Mark Quasius
Nov 1, 2012
Photographers: Mark Quasius
If you ever wanted to establish a museum dedicated to the RV industry, you couldn’t find a better place than Elkhart, Indiana. Fortunately, the non-profit RV/MH Heritage Foundation did just that, establishing its headquarters in a new facility located right alongside Interstate 80 in Northern Indiana. With more than 80 percent of all RVs being manufactured in the immediate area, it’s the perfect location. This 56,000-square-foot facility was built in 2007 to allow more room, easier access, and greater visibility than was had at the previous cramped location in downtown Elkhart. The new facility houses a convention center, library, hall of fame, and museum. It’s truly a must-see stop for any RV owner visiting the area.
Photo 2/17   |   rv Mh Hall Of Fame rv Mh Hall Of Fame Building
The 5,000-square-foot second-floor library contains virtually anything and everything ever published regarding RVs or RV travel. The library houses manufacturer catalogs, dealer materials, photographs, books, and periodical publications. Complete magazine collections exist featuring issues as old as 1941, so if you ever need to research anything pertaining to a classic RV, you are bound to find it here. If you have any questions, the museum’s historian, Al Hesselbart, is a walking encyclopedia and will undoubtedly know the answer to any RV-related question.
Photo 3/17   |   The road begins with the earliest RVs and takes you on a voyage through time as you wind your way amongst the extensive collection of classic RVs.
Photo 4/17   |   These “Telescoping Apartments” were built on the west coast on top of Model T Ford truck chassis. This early 1916 forerunner of today’s motorhome consisted of cabinets that slide in for traveling and are actually the very first “slide-outs.” Warm water for the shower is produced by radiator heat from the engine.
The RV Founders Hall museum contains an extensive collection of many classic RVs. The oldest travel trailer in the world, a 1913 Earl greets visitors who first enter the museum. Exhibits such as Model T “Telescoping Apartment” motorhome follow as you take a walk through time. Some of the more popular exhibits are Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet House car, a 1954 Shasta, a 1928 Pierce Arrow House car, a 1974 GMC Motorhome, and a 1967 Winnebago “Eyebrow” Motorhome.
Photo 5/17   |   This is the interior of the oldest travel trailer in the world, a 1913 Earl that was custom made for a Cal Tech professor by a Los Angeles carriage maker. The trailer has a dining table that seats four, and also converts into a double bed.
The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays and admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, or $3 for children ages 6 to 16. Current hours vary by season so be sure to check their website or give them a call for latest information.
Editor’s Note

On a recent trip to Elkhart I was lucky enough to visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Do yourself a favor and dedicate at least a half day to the HOF. I felt like a kid walking into Disneyland for the first time, and the three hours I was allowed there was just a cruel tease. I could have spent the whole day wondering the grounds. It’s an amazing facility with loads of history. Every RV enthusiast needs to have it on their bucket list.
Photo 12/17   |   rv Mh Hall Of Fame airstream Motorhome
Shasta originally began in 1941 near Lake Shasta, California, before Coachmen acquired them in the 1970s. This 1954 15-foot trailer was built without the standard company logo wings. It was equipped with an upper bunk with a ventilation window that would have later been covered by the wings. It also features a gravity water system with a reservoir above the kitchen sink that would be filled from the roof on the curbside of the trailer.
Photo 13/17   |   rv Mh Hall Of Fame shasta Trailer
This is the interior of Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet House car. This is part of the upcoming David Woodworth collection exhibit and was one of the enticements offered by Paramount Studios to lure Mae West from the Vaudeville circuit and to begin making movies for them. It is designed as a chauffeur driven lounge and not a camper unit and was used to transport Miss West from her home or hotel to the shooting locations. She had a rocking chair on the back porch where she could enjoy the breeze when appropriate.
Photo 14/17   |   rv Mh Hall Of Fame mae Wests 1931 Chevrolet House Car
This 1974 GMC is a prime example of the very advanced motorhomes built by General Motors from 1973 to 1978. It features a front wheel drive system that was used on the Cadillac Eldorado and Oldsmobile Toronado automobiles with a 455ci engine. It is equipped with an airbag suspension system providing an extremely advanced ride and handling for its day. GMC motorhomes have a tremendous following and the vast majority of them are still in operation and kept in excellent shape by their passionate owners.
Photo 15/17   |   rv Mh Hall Of Fame 1974 Gmc Motorhome
This motorhome popularized the RV industry. The 1967 “eyebrow” Winnebago was one of the first motorized RVs built by the Forest City, Iowa company that had built travel trailers for the previous 10 years. It’s a 19-foot motorhome with a six-cylinder Ford chassis and was the first popular assembly-line-built motorhome. Designed to sleep up to six people on three double beds and priced at about $5,000, it started the rush to affordable motorhome production.
Photo 16/17   |   rv Mh Hall Of Fame 1967 Eyebrow Winnebago
Photo 17/17   |   This 1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet House car was one of only three built by the Pierce Arrow Company of Buffalo, New York, before the crash of 1929 ended their manufacture of luxury house cars. It is an excellent example of the high end house cars of the 1920s.


RV/MH Hall of Fame