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Why Is Elkhart Indiana the RV Capital of the World?

Why is Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of the World?

Elkhart may be a small city in Northern Indiana, but it packs a big punch.

In fact, in the late 1940s, Elkhart County was home to more than 100 RV companies.

Keep reading to learn why a city in the middle of farmland is known as the “RV Capital of the World.” 

How Did Elkhart, Indiana, Become the RV Capital of the World?

RVs manufactured in Elkhart account for 80% of global RV production. The city began its rise to success in 1936. Wilbur Schult bought the Sportsman Trailer Company and grew it into the largest manufacturer in the travel trailer industry by 1940.

This attracted other suppliers and manufacturers, and the industry gained momentum.

By 1948, Elkhart, Indiana, was known as the “Trailer Capital of the World.” Manufacturers used the railroads in the area to ship their RVs all over the country. They also relied on a large workforce. Today, one in five Indiana residents work in manufacturing. 

Which RV Manufacturers Are in Elkhart?

While there have been acquisitions and mergers over the years, many of the biggest brands remain in Indiana. You can find about 30-40 manufacturers in the Elkhart area today. Combined, they account for about 100 brands.  

Some manufacturers include Keystone, Forest River, Thor Motor Coach, Nexus, Heartland Recreational Vehicles, Newmar RV, Renegade RV, Jayco, Inc., Winnebago towables, Grand Design RV, and more. 

RV Activities in Elkhart, Indiana

A visit to Elhart, Indiana, can be an RVer’s dream vacation. If you’re in the area for warranty work or supplies, you can make a short vacation out of it to enjoy the attractions.

Visit the RV Hall of Fame Museum and Library

The RV Hall of Fame Museum and Library is a popular stop in Elkhart. Take a deep dive into the history of the RV industry. The museum displays RVs throughout the years. See antique models in all their glory. 

Take an RV Factory Tour

You can tour the many RV factories in the Elkhart area. Tours give you an up-close look at the development of RVs. See the people behind your RV.

Visit an RV Show

Indiana hosts two RV shows each year. Check out one (or both) for a fantastic time.

The Midwest RV Super Show takes place at the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart. The show brings in the newest RV models and top supply vendors. It’s family-friendly and includes four days of RVs and events.

The Indy RV Expo takes place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana. You’ll see more than 120,000 square feet of pure RVs. You can compare the biggest brands, camp, and maybe even find the new RV you’ve been searching for. 

Go Shopping

Elkhart, Indiana, has multiple RV dealers, salvage yards, and parts and accessory stores. Having access to so many options in one area makes it easy to shop for RV parts.

Is Visiting Elkhart, Indiana, Worth Your Time?

If you’re in the market for a new RV or want to learn more about the industry or brands, Elkhart is worth a visit. You can pack a lot into a one- to three-day visit. Shop for an RV or accessories, visit the RV Hall of Fame, and see the home of RVing itself. 

As the RV industry continues to grow, some may forget its roots. Visiting the “RV Capital of the World” can get you back in touch with where and how this all began. Have you ever swung by Elkhart for a visit?

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  1. Richard Penick says:

    We visited many years ago. Most hospitable and well worth the trip. Retired now down here in FLORIDA. Truly enjoyed our time on the road. Holiday Rambler was our go to maker.

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