Here’s a look back 100 years
America’s first RV camper club, the Tin Can Tourists, which formed in Ybor City in 1919, marked the beginning of a new kind of tourism across the United States. It was tourism that stressed friendship and shared experiences, pulling travel trailers and camping around the country. It also introduced many from the Midwest and Northeast to Florida sunshine during winter months.
Tin Can Tourists hit their peak of popularity during the Great Depression of the 1930s. When Ybor City’s DeSoto Park, where the club was born, closed in 1924, many of the club members relocated to Braden Castle in Bradenton, said Forrest Bone, who ran the club from 1998 to 2019. “In 1924, a committee was formed and the property now known as ‘Braden Castle Park’ was purchased. The property today consists of 200 lots, of which 198 are built on with small houses, a trailer park that has 94 mobile home sites and 10 spots for recreational vehicles. The location of the Park is on a point where the Braden River empties into the Manatee River,” according to the Braden Castle website.
The name Tin Can Tourists is thought to have come from the Model T Fords, nicknamed Tin Lizzies, which many members drove, and from the tins of canned food that many ate while on America’s rough and still developing road system of more than a century ago.