For several years before and after 1920, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs
participated in a series of motor camping caravans, which have been described as the first notable linking of the automobile with out-door recreation.
The idea for the camping trips seems to have germinated in a trip by the Fords and the Edisons to the Florida Everglades in 1914. It took firm root in California in 1915, when Ford, Firestone,
and Edison motored from near Los Angeles to San Diego. The group so much enjoyed the freedom and fun of motoring that Edison proposed similar
"gypsy" trips in future summers. All agreed.
Ford, as it turned out, was too busy to join the 1916 expedition, which included the naturalist John Burroughs. But the auto king joined the 1918 outing to the
Great Smokies, and at once became the dominant spirit of this and later excursions.