Tin can tourism: How Florida became a mobile-home paradise

If you've ever wondered how or why Florida became such a trailer-park paradise, you have but to visit the website for the Archives of Florida, which is a treasure trove of photos, documents and information about the state's history, to find your answer. We recently discovered a series of photographs on the site called Tin Can Tourism, and it documents how the completion of the Dixie Highway, which ran from Montreal to Miami, provided northerners with easy access to Florida. Beginning in 1915, the number of automobile tourists to the state increased steadily every year, and many serious travelers modified their vehicles to make them "house cars" – they were equipped to carry water, bedding and enough equipment to make it possible to travel comfortably for days or weeks at a time. Those who adopted this style of travel were known as "tin can tourists," and they pushed deeper and deeper into the state, setting up camp in its small towns and rural areas. After World War II the practice was well-established, and trailer parks began springing up in popular spots to cater to the needs of tin can tourists looking for places to camp. These photos are a sampling of the images compiled by the state archives that document the early days of tin can tourism in the state and its evolution from a quirky method of travel embraced by a few pioneers to an established subculture in Florida. – Erin Sullivan

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Tin can tourism: How Florida became a mobile-home paradise
Early "house cars" at a tin can tourist campout, 19--
Early "house cars" at a tin can tourist campout, 19--
Early automobile tourist camper, early 1900s
Early automobile tourist camper, early 1900s
Having a meal in a trailer in Everglades National Park, 1946
Having a meal in a trailer in Everglades National Park, 1946
Tin Can Tourists convention, Arcadia, 1929
Tin Can Tourists convention, Arcadia, 1929
A tin can tourists camp in Gainesville, 1920s
A tin can tourists camp in Gainesville, 1920s
Tin Can Tourists camp in Gainesville, 1920s
Tin Can Tourists camp in Gainesville, 1920s
A retired railroad man sits on the bumper of his house-car, 1931
A retired railroad man sits on the bumper of his house-car, 1931
Tin Can Tourists playing shuffleboard at a Dade City camp, 1936
Tin Can Tourists playing shuffleboard at a Dade City camp, 1936
Trailer park in Sarasota, 1946
Trailer park in Sarasota, 1946