The Outdoorsman

Kellogg's Ark: A Forerunner of the Modern Day RV


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Kellogg's Ark
The 27-foot Truck Chassis Kellogg converted into a well-equipped motorized home.

Traveler, Adventurer and Innovator

Will Keith Kellogg, more commonly known as W.K. Kellogg, is famous for founding the Kellogg's Company, a popular brand of breakfast cereals. A quick search of his name online will yield you thousands of results, many of which are biographies and articles about his contribution to society as an industrialist, an advocate of good health, and as a philanthropist. However, many of these articles fail to mention something that we think is a very noteworthy attribute of W.K. Kellogg: the traveller, adventurer and innovator.

It would be very rare that you would find anything about W.K. Kellogg's motorized ark, a 27 feet long truck with all the amenities of home, a forerunner of today's modern RV, dubbed by the press as "Kellogg's Ark".

With the help of the Bender Body Company of Cleveland, construction of this motorized ark was started in 1923 and completed in 1924, a full year before the first professionally manufactured RV by GM was built! The Kellogg's Ark was one of the first motorized RV motor homes, but whether this homemade RV influenced the design for the modern-day RV, we cannot tell, as the Kellogg's Ark is not mentioned in the official history of RV.

How the Ark was built

The Ark was built on a 27 foot truck chassis with a special body mounted on it. The body contained all the necessary comforts of home. It had beds, tables, easy chairs, kitchen (furnished with electric toaster, boiler and egg poacher, electric stove and two-burner oil stove for emergencies), bathroom, heater, telephone, window screens, refrigerator and a radio set connected to a large speaker over the driver's seat. Strapped on the Kellogg's Ark's roof was a 15 foot motorboat for spur of the moment fishing trips.

The Ark travels at 30-35 mph and drove smoothly on even fairly rough roads. It had a wheel base of 198 inches, 45 horsepower motor and tires measuring 36" x 6". In total, the Ark weighs 11,000 lbs.

It was no 5-star hotel, but it had all the basic necessities that can be found in most homes, much like a modern day Class C RV.

According to W.K. Kellogg, this was how he really wanted the Ark to be equipped. He did not want to add luxuries as that was not the point of camping. He really found joy roughing it in the great outdoors;

"When a man learns to do his own crude camp cooking, he gets a keen relish out of his food, a relish that is absent from the most tastefully cooked meal at a hotel"

Kellogg's Ark Interior
Blueprint of the Kellogg's Ark Interior

Photo courtesy of Popular Science Monthly, March, 1924

He simply wanted to enjoy the life of a camper, a vagabond of sorts. His home on wheels allowed him and his wife to go wherever and whenever they pleased, without the need to worry about hotels or railroad connections.

An extra item that Kellogg always brought with him on his trips is a camera. He encourages campers to take pictures and make a photo diary of their adventures so that they may look back on those memories and go back to that happy place anytime.

RV cure for insomnia

When W.K. Kellogg built the Ark, it was not out of necessity but simply for amusement. He loved motor touring and he considered this as his only hobby back in the 1920s, before he moved to his 800 acre ranch in Pomona Valley, California. The Ark proved to be more beneficial to him than what he initially expected. His passion for motor touring was so great that he attributes his good health to motor touring.

W.K. Kellogg was an insomniac and nothing he did seemed to improve his condition until the Kellogg's Ark came along. His health improved because he was able to truly indulge his serious wanderlust when he had the Ark; with all the fresh air, beautiful scenery and little adventures he experienced and triumphed over, W.K. Kellogg became a happier and healthier man.

W.K. Kellogg was a true advocate of good health. He not only promoted proper diet but he also encouraged people to improve their health by pursuing a healthy hobby such as camping. His tips on RVing are to plan ahead and pick an uncommon route that will take you to the uninhabited places in order to really enjoy nature at its best.

Copyright ©2011 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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1 comment(s) so far...

My former landlord`s uncle used to drive a 1930`s ark over the old Grapevine route (now Interstate 5)from Saugus (now Newhall) CA. to the San Joaquin Valley to Bakersfield and cities beyond.

By Woofman Greg on 10/11/2011 7:29:57 PM
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