RV/Trailer Capital Of The World Is In Michigan’s Backyard
There is no doubt that the Midwest is known for rural roads with miles of woods between towns and even neighbors. Elkhart, Indiana would appear to the passers-by eye as just another of these rural towns. After all, with bustling Amish and Mennonite communities the covered horse and buggies wouldn’t give the impression that for every two RV’s seen on the road, one of them was built in Elkhart County.
How Elkhart Became RV Capital of the World
In 1931 a local man named Milo Miller built a travel trailer that would accommodate his family while traveling for other business endeavors. After selling his family trailer, then quickly selling a second he realized his next profitable venture. He was inducted to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in 1975 as “The School Teacher of the Industry”.
After debuting his travel trailers at the 1933 Chicago Exposition, Wilbur Schult purchased Miller’s company and turned it into the largest trailer manufacturer in the world. By the 1940s Schult had turned mobile homes into a treasure of efficiency and freedom attainable for the average American family to live in. While Schult began the company on practicality, the King of Egypt issued the first luxury trailer, or what became known as “land yacht”, a 50-foot mobile home containing pigskin walls, Australian satinwood, and a bar and wine cellar.
With time and practice, Schult homes were able to add more than practicality to their mobile homes. With revolutionary designs like steel frames, forced air, and electrical appliances during World War II, they were able to supply an ideal product for the U.S. during a national housing emergency.
Though the Schult's business specialized in luxury mobile homes, like any company over time they faced struggles and not so great ideas. New models like motel units (a unit that travels to you or you travel to it?), classrooms, and offices not succeeding like the mobile unit along with a fire in 1963 destroying their largest plant, production and sales halted for a time; allowing competitors to grow.
Today’s Growing Use/Interest
Perhaps now more than ever, thanks to Covid-19, people are acting on the urge to travel and live. Time to search, budget, and invest in a mobile home has made this a more standard idea of living than in the past. Elkhart remains the Trailer Capital of the World, with roughly 35 different RV businesses still in production/sales today.
If you’re interested in the history of mobile homes, or just want to see some interesting designs, the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum offers rare, interesting, and cool versions of RV’s and memorabilia from the beginning of the industry in the 1930s. Celebrating their 50th year in 2022, the Hall of Fame and Museum offers exploration from the past into the future.