Mike and I picked up an early Christmas present last month: a canned ham travel trailer! I saw it advertised as an “unknown 1959 camper” on Facebook Marketplace on a Friday afternoon. I knew instantly by the pictures that it was a really good potential buy, regardless of what brand it turned out to be. There was so much originality! Before I even told MIke about it, I reached out to the seller, trying to mask my desperation and and urgency. I was basically all, “We’ll come over and see it RIGHT NOW.” Haha. Super smooth.
Mike went down on Saturday morning, after some cryptic messaging with the seller. It was about 50/50 whether he was going check out a really cool camper or possibly meet up with a mobster/drug dealer/serial killer. You just never know.
Lucky for us, the camper was real.
It turned into the entire weekend- driving back and forth twice, picking up new tires, changing the tires, so Mike could drive it home. My role in all of this was kid control and research. We bought the thing still not knowing what it was.
I did have a super cool clue though! Across the back of the trailer, you could make out the words “Traveltown Rent-a-Trailer Madison, WIS AL 7-1137”
I found some Traveltown ads from 1959 and 1960 in the Wisconsin State Journal. Traveltown also had Avis Rent-a-Car and for moving, Rent-a-Truck.
Hey! That’s looks just like our camper!
That big ole “W” on the front made me think it was a Winnebago. Check out these comparisons.
And . . .
Finally Mike gets the thing home, and I see that ours is a “V” on the front instead of a “W”. So no go on the Winnebago. Which was a shame. Because I was already looking forward to calling her “Winnie”.
I bring out the dreaded paint stripper, and set to work on the trailer hitch. The first two letters of the serial number were “TB”.
We have a winner!
Trailblazers were made here in Wisconsin, in Spencer, from 1959 to 1972. Spencer Sports Products also manufactured Pathfinders. Due to two fires at the plant, there’s not a whole lot of official information on either of the brands. Adding mystery to it all, ours doesn’t look anything like any Trailblazer I’ve seen. But we do have a few theories on that: since ours is a 1959, which is also the year they first started producing the trailers, it could be likely that they made this one as a copy of the popular models, like Winnebagos, before starting to produce their own style. Or, since this one was owned by Traveltown, maybe it was a special order, made to their specifications? I also kind of wondered if there was a more direct link between Traveltown and the Spencer plant, in terms of partnership. I found it interesting that I found just one other Traveltown, in San Antonio, Texas, and the other main plant for Trailblazers was also in Texas (in Forth Worth). Also, they did make very few Trailblazers in the year 1959. From my understanding, there was a fire the previous year, and they got a late start producing, so there really wasn’t all that much action that first year of production (later on as the popularity caught on, they would make up to 8 trailers in a day!). There is no known rhyme or reason to the serial numbers on the Trailblazers, other than “TB” was for Trailblazers in Wisconsin, and “TT” was for those made in the Texas plant. But, regardless, this camper is a perfect example of the canned hams of the late 1950s.
Original paint job . . . original, working windows and that great jalousie door. The awesome original Formica . . . the list goes on and on.
I think it’s funny, someone commented on the seller’s ad, basically saying that the camper wasn’t even worth $100. That man is not my kind of people. To a lot of people, I’m sure it doesn’t look like much. But there is so much that’s original in this trailer, it makes my heart happy.
We won’t be doing as much work to this one as we did the Shasta. The front inner panel needs some help due to water damage. We’ll clean up the outside and repaint. A new door over the closet. Maybe add an outlet or two. And I’ll re-do curtains and cushions. Check out the vintage fabric I already picked up!
That plaid is such a great match for the Formica!
The Shasta isn’t going anywhere. As Mike said, “I’ve put more work into the Shasta that I have my own kids”. She’ll be for Mike and I to take to vintage car and camper shows. The Trailblazer is going to be our family camper. We won’t be putting anywhere near as much work into it as we did the Shasta, so it’ll be a little more kid-friendly. Not to mention, bigger for our family of five! I mean, “bigger” is relative . . . she’s still only 15 feet long!
I can’t wait to get her out in the spring and update you all on our progress! She’s going to be a GREAT camper for our family, and she’s such a cool piece of travel trailer history. If you know anything else about Trailblazers, Traveltown, or the Spencer plant, I’d love to hear it so comment below or shoot me an email!