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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 Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s 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 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 Decatur Motor Camp The Trailer 'Problem'
12: Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s

Decatur Motor Camp

Many Americans took their vacations on the road. Autocamping and trailer living helped renew family ties and relieve some of the pressures and distractions of daily life, while it preserved some home comforts. Every summer in the late 1930s and 1940s, the Cate family of Lakeport, New Hampshire—Eben, Vernie, Rudolph, and Virginia—towed their Trav-L-Coach house trailer to York Beach, Maine, for a week at Decatur Motor Camp. Keeping house in their vacation cottage on wheels, they relaxed, took walks on the beach, and swam in the Atlantic Ocean. But Mrs. Cate still had to perform most of the house chores that she did at home.

Decatur Motor Camp, mid-1930s
Decatur Motor Camp, mid-1930s
The Decatur Motor Camp, a family-operated vacation camp in York Beach, Maine, rented cottages and space for tents, cars, and house trailers.
The Cate children and the family trailer
The Cate children and the family trailer
Virginia and Rudolph Cate grew up with the family's 1934 Trav-L-Coach house trailer.
The Cate family
Virginia, Vernie, Rudolph, and Eben Cate, about 1934.
The Cate family
Trav-L-Coach, 1934
Trav-L-Coach, 1934
The Cate family's 1934 Trav-L-Coach house trailer is equipped with beds, kitchen, dining area, heat, and electric lights. More than 300 small firms made wooden vacation trailers in the 1930s. The cutaway section was damaged before the Smithsonian acquired the trailer.
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