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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 Americans Adopt the Auto Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s People on the Move Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction Ring's Rest Jim Crow on the Road
Roadside Communities

Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s

It’s getting late, and a traveler stops at a tourist cabin called Ring’s Rest in Muirkirk, Maryland. Its 1939 and he’s on his way to the World’s Fair in New York, looking for work. A young girl, daughter of the owner, greets the traveler, and rents him one of the four small cabins that make up Ring’s Rest.

View from the exhibition
View from the exhibition

Cabins for Rent—Nightly Rates Only

As more people took to the road, clusters of roadside businesses sprang up to accommodate motorists’ needs. By 1925, many tourists stayed in roadside cabins rather than at campsites or hotels. Hotel operators, worried that cabins were undermining their business, warned that the cabins were dens of vice and danger. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover claimed that criminals used tourist cabins as hideouts. Still, auto courts became more and more popular. But as motorists began to look for consistency along the road, they patronized chain restaurants and motels instead of family-owned businesses.

Ring’s Rest, located about 20 miles north of Washington, D.C., was one of many small tourist courts scattered along U.S. 1 from Maine to Florida. The Ringe family rented out four wooden cabins and owned a roadside store with gasoline pumps. Miles from the nearest town, the Ringe family lived within earshot of highway traffic but in relative isolation. The only neighboring buildings were a general store, a railroad station, and a roadhouse.
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