An RV Visionary

It may have been destiny that led Wallace Merle Byam to found the Airstream Trailer Company. A man long convinced that he would achieve great things, Wally Byam had an eye for problem solving.

As a young man working as a shepherd, Wally spent many nights in a ‘shepherd’s cart’ that included the basics: a sleeping bag, a wash pail and a kerosene stove. In 1929 Byam made what might be viewed as a much more sophisticated shepherd’s cart. He bought a Model T Ford chassis and installed a platform on the chassis. He towed this to a campsite and then used the platform as the base for his tent.

These early efforts inspired Byam to strive for an improved solution. He eventually built a permanent structure on a towable platform that included both an ice chest and a stove. His first sales in the trailer business were the sales of detailed plans for building one’s own trailer in an economical way. This led to a trailer building business that originally operated out of Byam’s backyard. In 1931 when the business outgrew his backyard, the Airstream Trailer Company was formed. His intent was always to provide travel trailers, but many used his trailers as homes, particularly during the depression.

This pioneer of the industry was noted for searching out the best solutions for life in a trailer. He traveled the world looking for anything and everything that might make time spent in an Airstream both more enjoyable and more functional. With his visionary spirit, if he couldn’t find something on the market to enhance the traveling experience, he would find a way to manufacture it. He is credited with several ‘firsts’ in the travel industry including the first fully self-contained travel trailer.

Known for their look as well as their comfort, the Airstream is a highly recognizable brand. Byam’s legacy lives on today as these distinctive travel trailers are still a popular option for many.

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