Building On the Past: The Great American Station Wagon
Once referred to as depot hacks, these spacious vehicles were often seen as taxicabs (hacks) around train depots before World War II. Marketed as light commercial vehicles and people-movers, early station wagons were largely produced by Ford in the 1930s. These early models were produced in small numbers and only saw limited use.
After World War II, however, the station wagon gained a new purpose as a family vehicle. This era produced large families and an abundance of decent jobs. Many households had several weeks of vacation each year. As road trips became common, the station wagon was adapted to transport family and gear across the United States. In 1957, the Ford Motor Company published the Ford Treasury of Station Wagon Living: A Guide to Outdoor Living.
One of the first of its kind, this travel guide helped market the Ford station wagon while promoting many U.S. state and national parks and forests. The guide includes chapters like “Packing and Loading” and “For the Camp Chef”. One chapter, titled “Tents and Wagon Sleeping”, features several add-ons produced by various companies that turn your station wagon or trailer into sleep arrangements for the night, promoting a low-cost lodging solution.
In the back of the book, Ford lists over 1,300 campgrounds with state and regional maps for 35 states. An astute modern reader may notice something missing from these maps: interstate highways, which arrived when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956, further encouraging coast-to-coast travel.