National Museum of American History – America on the Move

It wasn’t all about fashion last week in Washington.  I managed to work in a travel exhibition as well.  America on the Move is a survey of Americans going places.  It is part of the ongoing remodeling of the museum, and is a walk through various scenes that show how travel has changed over the years.  To give you an idea of the size of the museum, included is an exhibit with an actual Southern Railway locomotive.

Above is a 1903 Winston, which was the first car to cross the United States.  Driven by Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker, they drove from California to New York, picking up Bud the bulldog in Idaho.  In many places there were no roads at all, and they had to have equipment to remove them from gullies and such.  The trip was completed in 63 days.

In this scene, a girl is standing on the porch of a tourist cabin, part of Ring’s Rest, a small motor court in Maryland.  Built in 1930, the court remained open until the 1960s.  The Ringe family, which owned the motor court donated the building and Cabins sign along with many photographs that document the business.

Look how tiny!  I’ve been in a few of these older cabins where there is room for only a bed, a small table and a chair or two.

Ring’s Rest, 1940s

The trailer is a 1934 Trav-L-Coach which was owned by the Eben Cate family of New Hampshire.  The scene is of their camping spot at Decatur Motor Camp in York, Maine.  While Father Cate sits, sleeping beneath his paper, Mother and Daughter are conducting business as usual in the trailer kitchen.

The test notes pointed out that the trailer was already damaged where the cut-away section is.   This little taste of vintage trailers made me more than ever want to visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

Station wagons were the mom vans and SUVs of the 1950s.  How would you like to load the back of this 1955 Ford Country Squire with a picnic basket full of great food, a Scotch Kooler, and a red plaid Pendleton blanket?


Filed under Museums, Road Trip

9 responses to “National Museum of American History – America on the Move

  1. Christina

    That RV Hall of Fame site is fabulous!


  2. What a fantastic display! Now I’m dying to go!



  3. I guess we will be seeing more of “LIZZIE ON THE MOVE” with the welcomed summer days ahead! Safe travels to you.

    By the way, Liz…have you ever traveled the “longest yard sale in the world”….passes through Kentucky for one state….then up a few sates and then down for hundreds more miles. I came across it quite by accident one year. You may Google it….for more information.


    • I’ve never “done” the World’s Longest YardSale but I do keep meaning to check it out. I’m just far enough away that motel stays would be necessary, and I hear you have to travel some distance away from the route to find one unless you really plan ahead.

      For the past nine years my traveling was greatly curtailed due to family obligations, but now I’m finding myself free to just “up and go” as we say here in the South. So, yes, expect more!


  4. Lynne

    What a fabulous exhibition!
    By the way, one of my favorite NJ heroines is Alice Ramsey, who was 22 years old when she became the first woman to drive across the US. She, too, had no maps and had to extricate herself from gullies, change flats, dodge Native American hunting parties, etc. She did the trip faster than any man had done to date AND she had to jam her sister-in-law, her friend, and their voluminous petticoats in the Maxwell car that took them from NY to San Francisco. Years later Alice wrote about her trip in the book Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron.”


  5. Teresa

    Fabulous! I would love to load up the back of that 50s Ford and go for a picnic. 🙂


  6. That exhibit looks totally Retro Roadmap worthy! I didn’t know about it ’til you posted it here – thanks so much for sharing.


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