Tumbleweeds aren’t the only things that travel across the Texas Panhandle. As a stop on the original Route 66, the area has long been a major passageway for roadtrippers heading west, so it seems like the perfect place to build a sort of shrine to the King of the American Road Trip-the RV.
~1967 VW Bus~
The RV Museum is located just behind Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV, a RV Superstore just off 1-27. But while the store is all business, the museum is labor of love for Jack Sisemore and his son Trent. It showcases RVs from the Sisemore’s personal collection, and shows the progression of the familiar travel vehicle, and family travel as a whole.
Along with the RVs the museum holds a dozen vintage motorcycles, and a replica gas station that serves as a tribute to Jack Sisemore’s all American career. With money borrowed from his grandmother, he began his career by opening a Chevron station, and then a love of traveling with his family led him to begin renting RVs and then selling and manufacturing RVs. After building a vocation around RV’s, building a museum around the same passion just seemed to make sense.
The RVs are smartly grouped around picnic tables and period camping paraphernalia to give an overall feeling of the era. Most of the campers have been so carefully restored that if it weren’t for the signage, and the tell-tale interior designs, it would be difficult to guess the age of the vehicle. You can almost feel the Sisemore’s passion for RV’s in the gleaming chrome and pristine shag carpeting.
Greeting you at the door is a 1948 Flxible Bus that might look familiar if you are a fan of the Robin Williams movie “RV.” This model was modified for the movie and used as the Goernike’s Happy Max bus. The movie plays on a constant loop on a nearby TV screen where you can catch a few scenes as you sit behind the wheel of this RV style that is rare enough to be considered an American treasure.
Nearby is the oldest vehicle in the collection, a 1923 Lampsteed Kampkar that sat and slept six on a Model T chassis. A 1936 Alma found in a barn in almost pristine condition is sitting nearby in its un-restored state. The first brand of trailer produced in Elkhart, Indiana (the RV manufacturing capitol of the world, for you RV neophytes), a 1937 Elkhart Traveler is also shown in its original condition. Rounding out the pack of depression era campers is the 1937 Kozy Kamp, one of the first tent trailers ever built.
With the exception of select few trailers, all of the RVs have steps and signs that welcome visitors to climb aboard and experience RV travel from another era. Interiors are thoughtfully staged with kitchen utensils, games, food containers, and travel gear of the time period, creating a Polaroid of travel days gone by.
~A perfect example of 1970s interior~
Each of the RVs in the collection offers a unique slice of life on the road that might not otherwise be remembered. The 1962 Bethany with its original mod squad interior is the only pop up in the collection, and a nod to the way most people in the 60s hit the road. The 1970 Avion was the last pickup camper to be made by the company. The 1975 Itasca bear Serial #1 as the first Itasca motorhome ever built. The 1946 Tear Drop Kit was built out of aluminum surplus after WWII. Bullet holes were repaired to make this model usable. It’s impossible to see the RVs and not wonder about the families who used them and places they traveled before they ended up in this unique museum in Amarillo, TX.
The last stop before stepping out of the time machine is to place a pin in the map marking your home town. Standing in front of the map surrounded by all that traveling history, you start to wonder which way you would head if you were behind the wheel of your own traveling home. And so the dream of traveling the open road continues.