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Al Hesselbart

The retired general manager of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., Al Hesselbart is the author of the RV history book, "The Dumb Things Sold...Just Like That." He also represented the RV Industry Association at two symposiums held in China. He has appeared on multiple TV documentaries and is a frequent speaker at RV events. He can be reached at

Even China is embracing RV fever

Chinese sign for rv, touring car

The Chinese have a long history as campers and backpackers, but nearly all of their camping is either by tent or in fixed rental park model trailers in the campgrounds.

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From mobile tents to folding campers

Folding -- foldout camper

Camping wagons were produced and pulled into the countryside by horses in the years before the advent of the automobile. But, with the earliest distribution of horseless carriages, camper manufacturers began to pop up all around the country.

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Aviation industry influenced early RV products

Al - aviation 1

The early aircraft industry not only provided design concepts, but much of aircraft technology came into play in the growth of the RV industry. For example, fifth wheel hitches were designed for the U.S. Airmail program.

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A historical look at campgrounds and camping clubs

Hesselbart - campgrounds 2

By 1920, a few national parks had facilities for campers and several cities in Florida and the Great Lakes area began to build city campgrounds to attract seasonal groups of travelers like the Tin Can Tourists of the World, the first major organized traveler club.

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The RV industry’s earliest visionaries

Pierce Arrow Motor Car

While ingenious campers and hunters were making home built contraptions of all sorts, both motorized and towable, these dreamers created an industry building and selling camping vehicles to the public at large.

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