Travel News

On the Air: David Woodward, RV Historian

Locations in this article:  San Francisco, CA

Outback_CamperWhen David Woodward was a pastor in Woodland Hills, California, he discovered a 1928 tent trailer at a garage sale, took six weeks off from the church, and dropped out of society.

With his two daughters in tow, Woodward traveled across the country in the vintage trailer. Along the way, they stopped at the Calgary Stampede, Niagara Falls, and Washington D.C., where he was asked to set up his first auto-camping display at the Smithsonian Institute.

For several years, Woodward, a pastor-turned-RV historian, owned the world’s largest collection of antique RVs (ranging from 1914 to 1947). After reducing his collection from 50 to 15 when a museum offered to purchase them, Woodward now tours the country lecturing and focusing on all things RV.

As an avid American history fan, Woodward travels around the country to museums and RV rallies and assembles historically accurate RV displays to enhance his lectures.

On tour, he assembles an antique RV with all of the accoutrements that would have been used by residents of the era. “At one time I owned 2,800 pieces of little props like matches, underwear and can openers to use [in the displays]” Woodward said.

This January in San Francisco, Woodward is scheduled to assemble a 1911 camping display at a show highlighting the history of auto-camping. “The display will be a tribute to a commercial duck hunter, with a duck boat from 1899 pulled by a car from 1911,” he said.

According to Woodward, technological advancements contributed to drastic improvements in recent RVs. “This technology is incredible. The modern RV gives people the freedom and flexibility that they can’t find anywhere else,” he explains. “My first RV didn’t have air conditioning. Today’s RVs have back up cameras, cameras on the side of the vehicle, dishwashers, washing machines, and televisions that don’t interfere with the driver’s signal.”

Although Woodward recently let go of much of his collection, he still loves collecting the vehicles. “My pride and joy is always the one I don’t have,” he said. “I’ve had my eye on a 1926 [RV] in Arizona for a long time and every time I try to buy it the owner says, ‘Maybe someday.’”

By Jessica Reinis for

Listen to David Woodward on Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio this weekend. Peter will also be joined by Smithsonian Magazine contributor Paul Raffaele, discussing modern-day pirates that still roam the open seas. Also, a husband-and-wife team talk about how they ditched corporate life to hit the open road, and Arnie Weissman, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly discusses the latest breaking travel news.

You can call Peter LIVE with your questions on Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon EST at 888-88-PETER (888-887-3837).

Want to take an RV road trip? Check out Life is a Highway When You’re Rolling in an RV.