1946 - 1959

Click Here To Read All Magazine Articles From Time Period

A handful of manufacturers from the early years like Gilkison and Chenango survived the Great Depression of the 1930's and World War II, which brought about dramatic changes both culturally and technologically. By the early 1950's they too had disapeared from the tent trailer scene. But others took their place with new ideas and new technologies discovered during the war years, like plastic and fiberglass. Immediately following World War II Higgins and Karriall Kamper dominated the tent trailer market. Higgins introduced the first use of aluminum in his trailer in 1946. Neither company appears to have survived the 1948 recession.

There remained few, if any, manufacturers of tent trailers in the early 1950's. Often it was cheaper and easier to build your own, and many people did just that. Several articles in magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Science were written with detailed instructions on building your own tent trailer (see above link). It was during this time, 1953, that Theodore Heilite started mass production of his single wheel aluminum tent trailer. He had been experimenting with trailer designs since 1935 and did build a few from 1950 to 1953 for sale. In 1954 another leap forward took place. Hille Engineering introduced the first fiberglass body tent trailer. While the trailer never met with much commercial success due to its cost it is considered the first modern tent trailer by look-and-feel. It would be almost 10 years before the rest of the industry caught up to the Ranger design with features such as over-end beds, a hard-top and lift system, and a longer trailer length resulting in more living space.

Throughout the mid to late 1950's camping, once again, became popular. This in-turn fueled the demand for camping trailers. 1957 saw the arrival of future industry leaders Apache, Nimrod, and EZ Kamper with Bethany following in 1958. Camping trailer designs continued along the traditional lines with features such as tent-tops, over-end beds or tent-on-the-ground. But change was coming. A great renaissance in tent trailer design would take place throughout the entire decade of the 1960's.

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