A roadmap to happy vacations and simpler times

Eastern Motor Court Map Lake Ontario

Ah, the old days – when a map showing attractions like Old Fort Henry and a chance to ride the “American Adonis” in the Thousand Islands could set the heart racing.

Eastern Motor Court Map

The other day Raymond and I were in Campbellford, Ont., a nice little town with links to my past that I wrote a full post about here, and I found a fun thing in an antique store. It’s called the Eastern Motor Court Map, and its purpose was to guide travellers of the era – it was published in 1960, a very good year if I do say so myself, and perhaps you can guess why – to “motor courts” (we would call them motels today) in Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

(There were apparently companion maps for the Northeast [New England] and the Central region – Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, etc. My map says that if I send “10¢, in coin or stamps,” I can get another of the set. Do you think that would still work?)

I love vintage travel stuff, and here at the Manse I have a bit of a collection of old maps, guidebooks, menus (including menus from transatlantic liners and no-longer-extant airlines) and the like – so I couldn’t resist the Eastern Motor Court Map. It is such a throwback to a simpler time, when a “motoring” vacation was a real adventure and “motor courts” were a shiny new thing.

The map pinpoints all the spots where travellers would be able to stay at motor courts in the Eastern region. It has useful travel advice: “The practice of making advance reservations is always helpful. It helps you by preventing disappointment, particularly in resort areas, for holiday periods and over week-ends. It helps the operator to plan so that he can take care of you.” But the best part is the ads, which introduce some bright orange to the black-and-white map and feature charming invitations to visit motor courts like the Hi-Hat in Watertown, N.Y. (“A Good Complete Stop” with “Hot Water Heat”) and the Maple Leaf Motor Hotel of Buffalo, N.Y. (“One of America’s Largest and Finest Courts”), not to mention attractions like Storytown U.S.A. and Ghost Town (“A Million Dollar Attraction for Family Fun and Adventure”) and the Enchanted Forest (“A World of Fantasy for the Young and the Young at Heart”) and Roadside America (“World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village”) and Historic Fort William Henry (“SEE Buckskin-clad Rangers firing flintlocks!”). Here’s a little photo gallery to give you a sense of what I mean:

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Doesn’t it just make you want to pack up the woody wagon and hit the open road?

2 thoughts on “A roadmap to happy vacations and simpler times

  1. I enjoy the old roadmaps and guidebooks too!….I don,t recall the HiHat in Watertown, must be long gone, …..the Storytown has morphed into a Six Flags Great Escape Park just south of Lake George NY, driven by but never been in, ….the Enchanted Forest has morphed into a KOA, then back to Water Safari in Old Forge NY, camped there years ago and it was pretty good, nice water park when with kids…..I would add pic of my books and map, but not sure that I can attach it to this reply…..love the old maps, it was a time of station wagons and twp lane highways!

    • “Station wagons and two lane highways” – sounds like the name of a book, Bob! The kind of book I’d like to read. Thanks for sharing your memories of those vintage attractions, and a where-are-they-now update!

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