Henry Ford and His Camping Companions: “Vagabonds” Who Were Anything But

Henry Ford's love of the outdoors was most evident in the annual two-week camping trips he took from 1913 to 1924. His companions on most of these trips were Thomas Edison, the magnate Harvey Firestone, and poet and naturalist John Burroughs. The four men came to be known, in their own words, as "the Vagabonds." 

The Vagabonds and the Great Outdoors

The Vagabonds took trips that brought them to a variety of ruggedly beautiful places, including the Great Smoky Mountains and the Adirondacks.

Over time, these trips took on mythic proportions, requiring an entourage of attendants and supplies, attracting luminaries as guests (several U.S. presidents joined them for a day here and there) and generating numerous (and sometimes unbelievable) stories. Photographers were often on hand to take pictures of the four friends and their guests enjoying the beauty and relative solitude of their chosen natural settings.

For Henry Ford, the trips provided an opportunity to reconnect with nature and his rural roots. Ever active, he reportedly never sat still during these outings, but was always out collecting wood, exploring the landscape, and perhaps continuing to speculate on the relationship between industry and the natural world.