The original Airstreamer
Airstream founder Wally Byam was born on the Fourth of July, 1896, in Baker City – a boom town along the Oregon Trail, which his grandparents had traveled in a mule-drawn wagon on their journey out west. He grew up working hard with his uncle on a sheep farm, where he lived in a wooden wagon, towed by a donkey – much like his grandparents had. Inside the wagon he had a stove, food, water, and everything he needed, which would later inspire his first travel trailer.
“A pretty good business to get into“
After working to support himself through college and graduating from Stanford in 1921, Wally worked in journalism, advertising, and publishing. He and his first wife Marion went camping regularly, but she never enjoyed sleeping on the ground in a tent. So in 1929, Wally put together a tent contraption on top of a Model T chassis. It was mobile, but it wasn’t a lot of fun in the rain, and it was a chore to put together. He went back to the drawing board and replaced the tent with a teardrop-shaped permanent shelter – and added a stove and ice chest, too. It was a proper trailer and it caught the eye of so many other travelers that Wally decided it might be “a pretty good business to get into.” Good thing he did.