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May 3, 1959: Let’s go car camping!

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Minnesota Parks Updated: August 10, 2011 - 12:41 AM

 

A Tribune photographer followed the Donald F. Anderson family of Minneapolis into the wilds of northern Minnesota and captured the images below for Picture magazine. Did your parents take you camping? Did you rough it in the Boundary Waters or Glacier National Park? Or did you head for a nearby state park in a Country Squire station wagon packed with a canvas tent, camp stove, sleeping bags, air mattresses, fishing gear, board games and coolers full of food and drink?

Station Wagon Camping

 
THE STATION WAGON has revolutionized car camping. “Station wagon camping” is a new term in our language. You begin to understand it when you see a family (in this case, the Donald F. Anderson family, 4641 S. Washburn Av.) vacationing beside some Minnesota lake with all the comforts of home in camping gear. These photos were taken near Ely, at Birch lake campground, one of several camping areas in the Superior national forest.
 
The current surge of interest in car camping is a major social phenomenon. More persons camped out last year than ever before and the trend is continuing. The manufacturers of camping equipment are fully aware of this new interest in outdoor living.
 
IF YOU’RE new to camping, you’re wondering what to buy to camp in comfort. You need: tent, tarpaulin, cooler, stove, camp cooking kit, lamp, air mattresses, sleeping bags and blankets. The tent is your major item. Consider seriously the tent with sewn-in groundcloth, mosquito-netting door, and a fly that shelters the doorway.
 

ORIGINAL CAPTION: Family camping is no longer primitive business. The Anderson family had home conveniences in a forest setting. (Tribune photos by Earl Seubert, with original captions)

 

On a trip, the floor space behind the front seat becomes a safe play area for Kristin, 11, and Rolf, 13.

 

You don't have to stay put at the camp site. You can use the campground as base of operations, go sight-seeing in the area.

 

Air mattresses, basic for sleeping comfort, can also be used for sun-bathing and water fun.

 

Station wagons are spare bedrooms for the younger members of the party. Besides flashlights your camp will need some kind of lantern.


August 2011 update: Kristin Anderson Moore, now a program director and senior scholar at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., sent me this:

I remember this trip very clearly, as it was our family’s first camping trip. Our neighbor worked for the Sunday magazine, and they needed a typical family to try out and demonstrate the equipment. We were happy to do it, and it was fun! Both Rolf and I and our children have done a lot of camping in the ensuing 52 years. In fact, Rolf and I and our spouses are going canoeing in the Boundary Waters next week ….without the station wagon!
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