As RVers we tend to take our homes on wheels for granted. Microwave ovens and indoor toilets are everyday objects to us, but back during the early days of RVing, these luxuries were unthinkable. One trip to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana can open your eyes to show you how easy our lives on wheels are today.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame is located in middle America for good reason: Elkhart is ground zero for the RVing industry. Nearly 90% of all RVs are made at various manufacturing locations in and around Elkhart, so the city was always a logical choice for a monument to homes on wheels.
The museum started in the early 1970s, but when the RV industry was hard hit during the last recession, many feared the Hall of Fame would suffer the same bankruptcy fate as some RV manufacturers. Several months later and with persistence by the museum’s founders, board of directors and RV industry heavy-hitters, the RV/MH Hall of Fame survived and has come back better than ever.
Drive, Don’t Just Walk Down RV Memory Lane
At the RV/MH Hall of Fame, you’ll feel right at home when you pull off Interstate 80 near Elkhart. What other museum in the country has a parking lot with extra-long, pull-through RV-friendly spaces for visitors. They even allow you to boondock overnight in the parking lot at no extra charge!
Admission will set you back $10 but this the only place in North America where you can take a time travel tour of the RVing lifestyle in a quirky gallery designed to look like a campground.
See how our ancestors lived by checking out one of the first RVs ever made, a 1913 Earl Travel Trailer that’s the oldest and only one of its kind still in existence. The chronological trip down RVing memory lane continues with a 1931 Chevrolet Housecar that was offered as a bribe to the actress Mae West by Paramount Pictures, to persuade her to make movies.
You’ll also get a look at the earliest Winnebago ever made and a 1935 Bowlus Road Chief that “looks like an Airstream with a fish tail,” according to RoadSide America. Every RV is carefully selected for museum quality display; there’s an interpretive plaque at every stop that explains the RV’s significance to RVing history.
Don’t think the exhibits are all “Look but don’t touch” either. The RV/MH Hall of Fame is so dedicated to its mission: “To create a display of historic RV/MH products in a museum for the education and enjoyment of the public,” that many of these RVs are open for walk-through tours by curious visitors.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame is conveniently located off the Interstate and RVers everywhere who have visited say why it’s worth the stop. If you happen to be near Elkhart, make sure you take time to check it out. This museum is one of the few tourist destinations where you’re guaranteed a parking spot.
Often called “The O.G. of full-time RVing,” Rene Agredano and her husband Jim Nelson hit the road in a fifth wheel trailer in 2007, after their dog Jerry lost a leg to terminal cancer. Sixteen years later they are still traveling and sharing their nomadic adventures at LiveWorkDream. As a self-employed wordsmith, Rene shares her expertise for many RV industry videos, publications such as the Escapees RV Club Magazine, and has authored numerous books, including the Essential RVing Guide to National Parks, and Income Anywhere, a guide to earning money on the road. She has been featured in global media outlets including the PBS documentary “NATURE: Why We Love Cats and Dogs,” The Guardian Sunday Edition, and the Dan Pink book Free Agent Nation.
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