This Place in History: The Vagabonds

Vermont History


At ‘This Place in History’, we’re in Stowe with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“So we’re going to explore an obscure piece of history that happened almost 100 years ago. We’re going to go over to the Stowe Historical Society and see Pat Haslam who’s a trustee emeritus of the society to tell us all about it,” began Perkins.

“I’ve got a lot of stuff under my bed and I’m refiling things so I can find them. Out jumps this little snapshot. And I thought it deserved to be written about. So I started to investigate. And it’s a photograph of familiar-looking men in an open touring car in 1919,” explained Haslam.

“These folks turned out to be Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison and the naturalist John Burroughs. Three of them are industrialists. Harvey Firestone started the tire business. Thomas Edison had 114 different patents of his own; one of which was an electric car. Henry Ford, of course, while he didn’t invent the whole car thing, did the mass production and became a billionaire before 1919.”

“So we’ve got this group in an open touring car who visited Stowe, the north part almost to the Morristown line, in 1919, almost 100 years ago to the day,” said Haslam.

“They did camping trips between 1916 and 1927. This group put out sometimes eight trucks with tents, servants, food, camping gear and folding chairs and camped anywhere from the Catskills, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont of course. They were here overnight at the corner of Route 100 and the Randolph Road.”

“It was recreation for them. And all the photographs show them in white shirts, ties, jackets or even suits. It’s not the attire we expect in camping today,” concluded Haslam.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historical markers, click here.

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