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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

King of the Road: 1963

King of the Road: 1963

This is how you pull over for a family meal during a road trip. It's the early 60's and the family is off to visit Canada. Kodachrome slide. That camp stove used white gas. View full size.

Cooking

My buddy used to do that on backpacking trips. Before starting up the hill he would stop and buy meat and vegs and had a little spice kit in his backpack. We'd build a fire once camp was set up and he'd wrap everything in foil and through it in the coals! I must say it was very da kine!!!

Road food

My Texas Bride told me that when her family traveled her dad would buy a loaf of bread, a pound of bologna and a quart of milk. So one day while traveling up to Valentine, Nebraska, we were in the town of Thedford and I bought a loaf of bread, half-pound of bologna and a quart of chocolate milk and went to the park for lunch. I loved it. She did not!

About theft of camp gear, we ran into a case of this in Yellowstone Park and Sinks Canyon State Park in Wyoming. Sad that this happens but happen it does.

Sault Ste. Marie

I failed to mention that on the slide this was phonetically written: "Soo St. Marie, breakfast." The trip was from our home in Northern Indiana and up through Michigan. I'll post the other slide with Mom doing the cooking (includes tailfin of their car!). Maybe that one will show us the percolator better. I'll have to ask Mom if she remembers where they would plug that in.

My wife and I do the cooking like this while camping at Bonnaroo, but not while on the road. We don't have this stove but use the modern equivalent and use her dad's old Coleman camp oven, which is basically a metal box that sits on top of the grill and bakes. It has a temperature gauge on the door so you adjust the flame accordingly. Perfect for biscuits to go with the bacon and sausage gravy. Or Naan to go with our Indian MRE's.

Roadside food

I remember stopping along side the road in Utah, Nevada, Colorado and many other states on our road trips. We had NO money, so we stopped at local stores and bought bologna, bread, chips and fruit. I still remember this after all these years. A trip to fast food would have been long forgotten. A side-of-the-road picnic? It's is branded indelibly in my brain!!!

Road trip!

I'm 23 and plenty of my friends go on road trips and we rarely stop for fast food. When we got to our major destination this summer, we cooked a 12 pound turkey over a fire. It was magical and cooked perfectly. I think I might be in the minority here, but when I have kids, we're totally road tripping and cooking for ourselves.

Manifold menu

I'm still surprised to find that people eat out 3 meals a day while traveling. No wonder so many are so deep in debt, so addicted to credit cards.

It's easy enough to find a rest area or city park to eat lunch. The TV tells us that the world is dangerous, but I've found most places are fairly friendly. At worst, they just leave you alone.

I still have the green Coleman stove, but I never did like the darn things. We have a small propane stove that doubles as a heater. We don't spend every night in a motel when we travel, either. A tent packs up pretty easy in the car.

Now, for true road-food, you take a piece of meat, some cut-up potatoes, onions, and carrots, a little oil, salt and pepper, wrap it up in foil, and lay it on your engine to cook while you drive. When you get hungry, you have a hot meal ready to go.

Or is that just an intermountain western US concept?

Great photo -- looks like a fun trip.

Our trips to Canada

We did exactly the same thing on our trips to Canada to visit my aunt. I remember the food tasted wonderful.

Guess

Can't say exactly why, but if I had to guess I'd put them somewhere in Northern Minnesota. Something about that dwelling in the background looks Range-Finnish.

I would love to do a family vacation like this someday. Sad to say, but who has the time for a leisurely Americana road trip? Guess it's time you have to make.

Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs will not be too cold to visit at about 83F, today at least. I may just take the 29 mile drive out there to see if any other Shorpies are there!

But back to the Coleman stove -- they can also be quite dangerous or upsetting. I once got one as the #1 Christmas present for a previous spouse. Wrong move.

They're everywhere

Ahhh, the ubiquitous ol' Coleman stove. I think Lewis and Clark had one too.

Great stove!

We use those guys in WW2 reenacting. Nothing perks you up in the morning like Tim from the 5th Armored brewing up a pot of tea on that thing! I've been looking for one of the "pocket stoves." eBay? eOuch!!

I'd like to just say, for the record, that roadside cooking is still alive and well. This summer I took a 10 day driving trip to Wyoming with very little cash. Well, I should say what cash we had was eaten up by gas!! We started out with a few camping meals, jam and jerky. Along the way we would pick up bread and fruits.

Finally after 5 days I said "enough" and demanded a hot meal. We got a small "disposable" grill from K-Mart and cooked up dinner on the side of the road by the bison preserve. It could have been torture, trying to shield that thing from the wind at 1 in the morning, but watching planes come over the Tetons lit up by the full moon made things romantic and magical.

Maybe in 50 years, those shots will show up on Shorpy!

Camping 40's and 50's Style

You've hit on a passion of mine!

I fondly remember many road trips while growing up. We used the same stove. For those interested, you should check out 40's and 50's style Teardrop trailers. I am just completing one now. We are taking a week long Florida trip starting tomorrow and will spend our time in State Parks sleeping in our teardrop.

Mine can be seen here:
http://home.earthlink.net/~tony.cooper/TDProj/album.htm

Many varieties including originals can be seen here:
http://pages.prodigy.net/rfs2growup/mystry07.htm

Talk about living nostalgia!

[I grew up in Florida! For a few summers in the mid-1960s we'd haul the family Avion up from Miami to Juniper Springs, in the Ocala National Forest. You should check it out if it's not too cold. - Dave]

Oh the Memories

Wow this photo brings back memories of my dad heating chicken and dumplings in the can and assembling bologna sandwiches on white bread with mustard for many a roadside dining experience on our yearly family vacations. He branded it "clean food" in his campaign to convince my brother and me that it was the best thing ever. This was in the 1980s - I guess it was a tradition he carried on from his own childhood vacations. I doubt the tradition will carry on with this generation since I'm much more likely to just GPS the location of every Starbucks along the way.

A Tent Situation

My wife, daughter and I camp two or three times a summer at state parks, and we regularly leave all our cooking stuff on the table (including our old drab-green Sears-branded Coleman stove), our clothes and such in the tent (we do lock up the valuables in the car, though). We'll go out for multi-hour hikes, or even drive into whatever town we're near, and when we come back usually the only trace of visitors is muddy raccoon prints on the table.

Alas, we do all our cooking when we get there, though. My version of this scene would be ordering sammiches at Subway.

Pumped

I too fondly remember the rectangular hand-pumped Coleman stoves with the fuel vessel hanging off the front and the stamped metal wind-breakers: simple yet reliable. (I currently use the backpacker descendant that looks like a moon lander: it has never let me down even in the coldest weather). Growing up we mostly used our full size Coleman for camping but I can identify with the comments regarding use for the roadside midday lunch break. If it were my family we would probably be stopping for lunch at one of the many scenic rest stops along the old national road as it crosses the mountains in western Maryland.

Dad cooking.

Dad is doing the cooking just as I did for our family when on camping trips. My children loved the camping life as we traveled and still have wonderful memories of it. My kids, now 56, 62 and 65, still talk about my Rabbit Ear Pancakes.

In the late 1940s we could leave our stove and cooler on the table, the sleeping bags in the tent at the campsite and they would still be there when we got home from a movie in town. Times have changed.

Percolator

It appears to be an electric perc. How did he make it work way out there?

Background to drama

Blissfully unaware of the drama playing out behind them: on the left, a speeding Corvair; on the right, unsuspecting, a pair of pedestrians precariously perched on the shoulder. What will the next few seconds bring? Sudden terror, or just a request to pass the mustard?

Road Food

My girlfriend & I usually stop and make sandwiches at least once on a vacation trip. Not as extravagant as firing up a stove for a hot meal, but it's a nice break from fast food and a chance to unwind. What impresses me is that the stove also has its own stand. No stooping down to the ground for him. No man who takes a chrome percolator on a road trip should stoop.

Don't miss the Tupperware!

Another iconic item of the 50s and 60s is behind the stove -- Tupperware!

Coleman

I still have my Dad's two burner Coleman, 55 years old, works like a charm

Coleman Stove

Ah! A good old "green monster" coleman stove.

My Scout troop still uses identical ones to this day, a testament to their being indestructable. We only changed the tanks to newer red ones a few years ago.

You know it was a great design as you can still buy the same stove today, it has a few very minor improvements but for all intents is the same stove they made 50 years ago.

Where in Canada?

Being as how I'm in Prince George, BC, and this scene could be practically anywhere but in the mountains or on the prairies. By the way, I looooooves Shorpy!

Interesting

The idea of stopping on the side of the road to cook from a Coleman stove is a novel idea in this culture and would now be considered really weird. The roadside picnic area where this was taken is probably now a McDonald's. I'm 37 years old and although I've been camping several times we've never stopped enroute for a picnic. It's obvious the older generation was not as prone to be discouraged by a little hard work and inconvenience and didn't mind taking some extra time if it meant doing something important. Our family van on a long trip is packed to the brim with junk, mostly stuff we don't even need - DVD players, cellphone cords, GPS units, boxes of clothes for the in-laws, huge suitcases, etc, etc. Then it's on the interstate - no time to stop except quickly for fast food. What a refreshing change it would be to recreate a trip like the one pictured here on the backroads of America.

Doing it right

Traveling in style means camping with a chrome percolator.

That stove brings back memories

We cooked on one of those for a whole year while hand-building our geodesic dome house in 1971 and waiting for the power company to install underground power.

The stove used expensive gallon cans of Coleman fuel. There was a gas station in town that sold white gas (naphtha) for cheap, but it had impurities that clogged the stove. So we had to go back to the $4/gallon stuff.

Coleman Camp Stove

Sitting in my father's garage is that very same green camp stove (ca. 1961) still in the original box. I can remember my mother cooking on it for us during our car camping trips around the state of Oregon during the 60's. He still has the red Coleman cooler also.

 
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