Sunday 19 July 2015

Asleep at the Wheel

Sometimes the artifacts in our collection introduce us to a world we never knew existed. A series of photos from the Kingston Peninsula, circa 1920, included the following image:

Yup, that’s right. It’s a car tent.

As cars grew in popularity – and in number – touring became the fashionable pass time of anyone with wheels. Manufacturers jumped on this new opportunity and created touring solutions for their car models that included fold-out tables and camping stoves, and even full tent extensions that converted the car into a mobile inn. The tent solution was touted as not only convenient, but more cost effective than staying in a hotel.

We found this image for a “Schilling Auto Tent” solution on the Model T Ford Forum (a fascinating spot where early car enthusiasts celebrate the best – and strangest – details of early motoring). The 60-pound solution provided sleeping space for two and folded conveniently away on the running board when not in use.

This same website directed us to a 1923 publication, Motor Camping written by J.C. Long and John D. Long. The book explores a series of ‘great American trips” to take by motor car. It also provides a series of trip comparisons to illustrate the cost-effectiveness of auto tent solutions. In one comparison, a family of five travelling with an auto-tent solution take a month-long journey for just $101.03; a similar journey by rail with hotel stays is tallied at $921.93. That’s a cost savings of over $800!!! How could you afford NOT to purchase an Auto Tent solution?!

Obviously, the adventurous group in our photograph were more than convinced of the tent’s usefulness as they purchased two attachments, making their car a multi-tenant solution come nightfall. They also had great taste in campsites, choosing a spot on the Kingston Peninsula along the beautiful St. John River for their excursion in “The Big Outdoors”. Today, the Kingston Peninsula is still a great bet for a camping adventure but if you do not have a Model T with Auto Tent, you may want to explore a modern camping solution at Ridgeback Lodge. This beautiful site overlooking Kingston Creek offers ‘glamping’ (that’s glamorous camping) in a series of glass-fronted geodesic domes; a unique and elegant solution, but very much in keeping with the adventurous camping spirit of Kings County’s past!

1 comment:

  1. An early Winnebago - very interesting! Good work docents!