These famous men traveled together a number of times from 1915 and 1924, and they became known for doing so
Between 1915 and 1924, inventor Thomas Edison, automobile tycoons Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, and naturalist John Burroughs, calling themselves the Vagabonds, embarked on a series of summer camping trips. The idea was initiated in 1914 when Ford and Burroughs visited Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The notion blossomed the...
Between 1915 and 1924, inventor Thomas Edison, automobile tycoons Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, and naturalist John Burroughs, calling themselves the Vagabonds, embarked on a series of summer camping trips. The idea was initiated in 1914 when Ford and Burroughs visited Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The notion blossomed the next year when Ford, Edison and Firestone were in California for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. They visited Luther Burbank and then drove from Riverside to San Diego. In 1916, Edison invited Ford, Burroughs and Harvey Firestone to journey through the New England Adirondacks and Green Mountains; Ford, however, was unable to join the group. In 1918, Ford, Edison, Firestone, his son Harvey, Burroughs, and Robert DeLoach of the Armour Company, caravanned through the mountains of West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Subsequent trips were made in 1919 to the Adirondacks and New England; in 1920 to John Burroughs’ home and cabin retreat into the Catskill Mountains; in 1921 to West Virginia and northern Michigan; and in 1923 to northern Michigan. In 1924, the group journeyed to northern Michigan by train, gathered again at Henry and Clara Ford’s Wayside Inn in Massachusetts, and visited President Coolidge at his home in Vermont.
The trips were well organized and equipped. There were several heavy passenger cars and vans to carry the travelers, household staff, and equipment; photographers also accompanied the group.
This is a relic of one of the trips, a book with the cover reading “Commemorating our Vacation Trip of 1916, August 28th to September 9th”. Ford was not there, so the book pictures Edison, Burroughs and Firestone. The introduction reads, “Greetings To Our Friends, Mr: Edison made plans for a Vacation Camping Party, including himself, Mr. John Burroughs, M.r H.S Firestone and Mr. Henry Ford (who we regret was unavoidably prevented from being with us.). As a little diary of this trip, which proved so enjoyable to all of us, we are sending this book to our friends who we think will be interested in the events of those two weeks in August and September 1916.” This introduction is signed by Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Harvey Firestone.
The book itself contains photographs and drawings of the three men at the sites of their vacation, and includes poems and sayings, such as “On a man’s porch is written his mind, If his heart be warm and his way be kind, Inviting, repelling, accepting, aloof – Your welcome is writ under the old Porch roof.”
This is the first Vagabond-signed memento of one of their famous trips that we have had in some time. It is indeed a fascinating combination of names.
This comes with a second book signed entitled, “To you who attended the Homestead Dinner”, a 1914 event that was the precursor of the Vagabonds. It is signed by Harvey Firestone. Dated Columbiana, Ohio, July 11, 1914, Firestone’s message reads, “Believing that you really did enjoy that day. Here are a few pictures and verses as a souvenir. Of course I realize that this occasion meant much more in sentiment to me than to you. To me it was more than a reunion of friends and fellow workers it was a meeting of past and present-of boyish play and manhoods work. But I believe that to you, also. it had a sentimental value which will make it good to look back on. It was a reunion at the board of fellowship. It was a chance to gel better acquaint ed and rub elbows as comrades as well as coworkers. I only hope that your recollections of the day may be somewhere near as pleasant as mine and so this booklet goes to you as a reminder with the Best Wishes of Yours Faithfully, H. Firestone.”
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