Seeking Lost Tourist Cabins
by Jan Shupert-Arick
In the 1920s and 1930s between the days of auto camping on unauthorized sites or municipal parks, and the development of modern motels in the 1950s, tourist cabins provided simple overnight accommodations for motor travelers along the Lincoln Highway.
From the tiny cabins with bunks without indoor plumbing, to the luxury cabins with steam heat and upholstered furniture, travelers were charged from $1 per night up to $2.50 or more. Some cabins included bedding, dishes, and tableware for an additional 50 cents. Finding clean cabins was the main goal for tourists in this era.
To meet travelers’ needs, oil companies began to publish lists of approved cabins and collected information on their condition. The Conoco Travel Bureau published free brochures for various sections of the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. These brochures were available to Conoco customers at gas stations.
Indiana cottage camp locations were included in Brochure #5 for the North Central Section of the United States that included Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan. Over 200 camps with over 225 cabins met Conoco’s approval and were listed for Indiana tourists.
As we research the history of the Lincoln Highway in Indiana one begins to wonder what became of all of these cabins. Were they incorporated into a motel? Were they moved and utilized as garages and storage buildings? Were they bulldozed, burned, forgotten? Can any of them be found, restored, and interpreted as part of Indiana’s roadside history?
If you have information about the owners of these camps; experienced a camp as a traveler, owner, or worker; or have other tidbits of history to share about any of the cottage camps listed below, the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association asks that you share that information by contacting Jan Shupert-Arick, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information may also be mailed to: INLHA Office, Tourist Cabin Project, 402 West Washington Street, South Bend, Indiana, 46601.
Cottage Camps on the Lincoln Highway in Indiana
Columbia City: Hickory Hurst Gardens – 4 cottages at $1 and up
Columbia City: Log Cabin Camp – 5 cottages at $1 (we have a photo of this camp)
Columbia City: Shupp’s Tourist Camp – 5 cottages at $1.50-$2 (we have a photo of this camp)
Dyer: Bullock’s Cottage Camp – 6 cottages at $1.50
Elkhart: Conrad Mahr Tourist Camp – 7 cottages at $1 and up
Fort Wayne: Black and White Tourist Camp – 8 cottages at $1.50-$3 (we have photos of this camp)
Fort Wayne: Chapman’s Camp – 10 cottages at $1.25 and up (we have a photo of this camp)
Fort Wayne: Dixie Camp – 4 cottages at $1.50-$2.50
Fort Wayne: Gay Mill Camp – 19 cottages at $1.50-$3
Fort Wayne: Lincoln Dale Tourist Camp – 13 cottages at $1.50
Fort Wayne: Sunset Cabins – 3 cottages at $1.25-$2.50
La Porte: Andrew’s Camp
La Porte: Bob’s BBQ – 12 cottages at $1(we have images of this camp)
La Porte: Garden Inn – 10 cottages at $1
Ligonier: Ligonier Tourist Park- 1 cottage (we have an image of this camp)
Ligonier: Woodlawn Tourist Rest – 2 cottages $1 and up
New Haven: Basswood Camp – 3 cottages at $1.25-$1.50
New Haven: Gay Mill Camp – 12 cottages at $1.50 and up
New Haven: New Haven Tourist Camp – 8 cottages at $1.50 and up
Osceola: Gobles Camp – 8 cottages at $1-$3 (we have an image of this camp)
Plymouth: Whitecroft – 18 cottages at $1 and up (we have an image of this camp)
Rolling Prairie: Wiley’s Camp – 8 cottages at 75 cents and up (we have images of this camp)
South Bend: Log Cabin Camp – 10 cottages at $2-$4
South Bend: Milliken Camp – 18 cottages at $2-$4 (we have images of this camp)
South Bend: Pioneer Tourist Camp – 8 cottages at $1 and up
South Bend: Sundown Camp – 6 cottages at $1 and up
Valparaiso: Cottage Inn – 5 cottages, 13 rooms, $1 and up
Valparaiso: Pioneer Inn – 7 cottages, $1-$1.50
Warsaw: Beachwood Camp – 26 cottages, $2 and up
Special thanks for Russell Rein for sharing the Conoco Travel Bureau brochure used as research for this article.