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Woodbury: Hall of Fame Is a Worthwhile Visit

Vintage RVs at the Hall of Fame

Editor’s Note: The following is a column by RVtravel.com Editor Chuck Woodbury relating his visit to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.

If you are ever traveling through the Midwest on I-80, pause for a few hours in Elkhart, Ind., at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. I visited in September. What a treat!

First off, “MH/RV” means “Manufactured Home/Recreational Vehicle.” But really, it should just be “RV.” There are no manufactured homes on display in the RV Founders Hall, which is the museum section. Instead, dozens of RVs from as early as the 1920s are displayed. The world’s smallest Airstream is right inside the entrance, a mere 10 feet long, but complete with a bathroom. It was a prototype for the European market that was not pursued.

I felt a huge wave of nostalgia as I entered a 15-foot, yellow and white Shasta travel trailer from 1954. My parents bought a nearly identical Field and Steam trailer. We spent some wonderful vacations in that little RV. At home it was a great place to hang out with my buddies or spend the night camping in the front yard. If you had asked me a day before my visit to the museum to describe the inside of that old trailer, I would have not done very well. But once I stepped inside the Shasta I instantly recognized everything as familiar. It was like stepping back in time. There were no other visitors waiting to come in, so I stayed awhile thinking about my great times camping as kid. Click the video above to see my 30 second tour of the trailer.

A path that looks like a two-lane road winds through the museum, passing one classic RV after another. I enjoyed seeing Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet Housecar. It was given to the actress by Paramount Studios as an enticement to get her to leave the Vaudeville circuit and begin making movies for them. The vehicle was used for several years, mostly transporting Miss West from her home or hotel to shooting locations.

Also on display is one of the very first Winnebago motorhomes, built in 1967 on a power-challenged, six-cylinder Ford chassis. How about that shag carpet?

It’s a delight to walk through the museum and view the many old RVs, many of which you can go inside. The Hall of Fame also includes other exhibits including a display honoring RV industry pioneers and leaders.

The museum is open year round. Adult admission is $9, less for seniors and children. There are several nearby RV parks, so stay a night if you have time. And smalltown Elkhart, the “RV Capital of the World,” is about as pretty as you’ll ever see and worth exploring. And while in the area, be sure to visit one of the many RV factories, many of which offer regularly scheduled tours.

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