Answered By: Stephanie at The Henry Ford Last Updated: Oct 11, 2016 Views: 77
Between 1915 and 1924, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs, calling themselves the Four Vagabonds, embarked on a series of summer camping trips. The idea was initiated in 1914 when Ford and Burroughs visited Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The notion blossomed the next year when Ford, Edison and Firestone were in California for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. They visited Luther Burbank and then drove from Riverside to San Diego.
In 1916, Edison invited Ford, Burroughs and Harvey Firestone to journey through the New England Adirondacks and Green Mountains; Ford, however, was unable to join the group. In 1918, Ford, Edison, Firestone, his son Harvey, Burroughs, and Robert DeLoach of the Armour Company, caravanned through the mountains of West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Subsequent trips were made in 1919 to the Adirondacks and New England; in 1920 to John Burroughs' home and cabin retreat into the Catskill Mountains; in 1921 to West Virginia and northern Michigan; and in 1923 to northern Michigan. In 1924, the group journeyed to northern Michigan by train, gathered again at Henry and Clara Ford's Wayside Inn in Massachusetts, and visited President Coolidge at his home in Vermont.
The trips were well organized and equipped. There were several heavy passenger cars and vans to carry the travelers, household staff, and equipment; Ford Motor Company photographers also accompanied the group. The 1919 trip involved fifty vehicles, including two designed by Ford: a kitchen camping car with a gasoline stove and built-in icebox presided over by a cook and a heavy touring car mounted on a truck chassis with compartments for tents, cots, chairs, electric lights, etc. On later trips, there was a huge, folding round table equipped with a lazy susan that seated twenty. After 1924, the growing fame of the campers brought too much public attention and the trips were discontinued.
For your reference, below you will find lists of collection related material on the camping trips:
- Accession 1 Fair Lane papers subgroup, 1835-1955 (bulk 1888-1950). by Ford, Henry, 1863-1947. 74 cubic ft. and 8 oversize boxes. Link to finding aid in PDF format http://www.dalnet.lib.mi.us/henryford/docs/FairLanePapersSubgroup_Accession1.pdf
- Accession 1117 David Lanier Lewis papers, 1940-2003. by Lewis, David Lanier, 1927-. 0.8 cubic ft. Link to finding aid in PDF format http://www.dalnet.lib.mi.us/henryford/docs/DavidLewisPapers_Accession1117.pdf
- Accession 168, Accession 423, Accession 819, Accession 858, Accession 872, Accession 997, Accession 1129, Accession 1164, Accession 1216, Accession 1417. Collected research papers subgroup, 1935-1976. by Ford Motor Company. Archives. 0.8 cubic ft. and 10 folders. Link to finding aid in PDF format. http://www.dalnet.lib.mi.us/henryford/docs/CollectedResearchPapersSubgroup_AccessionSE005.pdf
- Accession 93.205 John Burroughs papers, 1854-1915. by Burroughs, John, 1837-1921. 3.6 cubic ft. Link to finding aid in PDF format. http://www.dalnet.lib.mi.us/henryford/docs/JohnBurroughsPapers_Accession93-205.pdf
- Accession 1503 A weekend with the Edison-Ford-Firestone camping party / Edsel Ford album, 1921. by Frazzini, Carnie, collector. 98 photographs (1 album)
- Accession 00.1334.61 Robert John Henderson De Loach photograph album, 1918. by De Loach, R. J. H. (Robert John Henderson), 1873-1964. 35 photographs (1 album)
- Accession 34 Camping albums subseries, 1918-1924. by Ford Motor Company. Engineering Photographic Department. 1.6 cubic ft. and 1 oversize box
The subseries is comprised of eight albums of 5 in. x 7 in. black and white photographic prints, several folders of loose photographic prints, and 1.2 cubic ft. of negatives. The albums document camping trips of the Vagabonds in 1918 (2 albums), 1919, 1920, 1921 (2 albums), 1923 and 1924. The loose prints document trips in 1919, 1920, 1921 (2 folders), 1923, and 1924. The negatives cover trips taken in 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1923 and 1924. Included are formal and informal images of Ford, Edison, Firestone, and Burroughs; campsites and camping activities; families, guests, visitors and staff; the camping caravan on the road; and scenic views. Researchers should note that there is overlap among the images in the albums.
Archives Vertical File:
- Ford, Henry – Camping
- There to breathe the beauty by Norman Brauer. Dalton, Pa. : Norman Brauer Publications, 1995. BFRC Call Number: 917.3 B825 1995 REF X
- Memoirs of the notorious by Stephen Burroughs, 1765-1840. Boston : C. Gaylord, 1840. BFRC Call Number: 920 B972, 1840
- Cars on the road (1987) [videorecording] / [Technology in changing times (excerpt). The world car is born (Ford; excerpt). Vagabonds (National Archives footage)].
- National Archives footage [videorecording] / Historical reel II: Burroughs and Vagabonds. Mirror of America. Historical reel A: Museum storage area.
- Vagabonds [electronic resource]. : Henry Ford and friends camping.
- Vagabonds [electronic resource]. : Henry Ford and friends camping, part 2.
Digitized photos can be viewed by visiting the online collection site:
- Digital Collections: Vagabonds
To set up an appointment to visit the research center call (313) 982-6020 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to do research from offsite, please contact us in writing. Fees apply to many research requests, and we will clarify this when we receive your request. For more information on cost please see our research services. Requests for information can be emailed, faxed or mailed:
Benson Ford Research Center
The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
fax: (313) 982-6244