August is the traditional car vacation month and this year is no different. With millions of drivers and families checking out national parks, monuments, American backroads, and various types of amusements, many towns, cities, and toll roads will see an increase in revenue (as well as population).
As America became more mobile during the 1910s and 1920s, Americans ventured out on America’s roads.. Many heeded Horace Greeley’s advice to “Go west…” and like the pioneers of old, they explored the back roads and towns of western America. On the way, travelers with limited budgets or who wanted to experience the fresh air of the countryside, outfitted their cars with camping equipment. Others, realized that towns were few and far between and so needed an alternative to a hotel.
Early on towns were skeptical of these “auto gypsies” and farmers and ranchers were concerned with these short-time squatters on their lands. Some folks camped on roadsides, but this proved dangerous in an era when speed limits and paved roads were almost non-existent.
By the early 1920s, towns realized the commercial opportunities in providing dedicated “auto camps,” where campers could patronize local stores for food and gas. Many towns in the West opened auto camps that provided a variety of free amenities, including fireplaces and showers.