RR History

On This Page

  1. Intro 
  2. RoadRunner Travel Trailer History 
  3. Archived Newspaper Articles 
  4. Identifying a Vintage RoadRunner Travel Trailer 
  5. Finding and Decoding Your VIN
  6. Other RoadRunners: Same name, different company
  7. Build Quality

1. Intro

The RoadRunner camper trailer was manufactured right here in Utah. They were a smaller company in comparison to Airstream and Shasta, however, they were still a very successful company especially in the western states region. They were local, and quality made built to do well in the hot deserts, cool mountains, national parks, and cold winters of the Rocky Mountain West. And because they were and are less famous, they are also more affordable for us to obtain and repair and for you to purchase. 

There is surprisingly VERY little about them online. So when Jon got his very first RoadRunner camper (1965) his obsessive researching kicked in and he found every single minute detail he could find about RR's, including old newspaper articles as well as all RR's currently out there. It's all here if you're interested: 


2. RoadRunner Travel Trailer History

History of The RoadRunner Line of L & M Trailer Manufacturing Company, Ephraim, UT. 
The following history may be way more detailed minutia than the most people who just want to see the project may be interested in (so skip on the project below), but I thought I'd detail what I found in my online searches to save some other RoadRunner owners/enthusiasts the hassle. I tried to find out more about this particular brand of travel trailers, but surprisingly there's not much on the Internet about them. However, I did find out that they were built locally here in Ephraim, UT, which makes it kind of a more personal connection since we are now Utahns as well. I was able to glean several tidbits from the Internet, newspaper archives, interviews with locals, and piece together the following. I realize now that this collection I've compiled is the most comprehensive resource on Roadrunner trailer history online! :-)

"RoadRunner travel trailers were built by L & M Trailer Manufacturing Company in Ephraim, Utah in the 1960’s. The designation RoadRunner was not a model name, all of their trailers were called RoadRunners. It was a very small company; I read it started with just a single rancher building campers in Utah. The company was purchased by DiGiorgio Leisure Products of Kalispell, MT in the early 70’s."
Source: http://ostrobogulation.com/2014/12/03/renovating-a-vintage-1969-roadrunner-travel-trailer/

"Roadrunners were popular trailers in the Southwest in the 60's and 70's.  Better built than many of the era, they still have real oak interiors instead of the fake photo laminate paneling.  This model was a nice size unit at 16' long and a full 8' wide, making the interior feel spacious."
Source: http://www.swvca.com/72roadrunner.html

"So far from comments on this blog and what I have been able to research, the DiGiorgio Leisure Products were produced between 1967/68 through 1976. They were produced in Kalispell Montana and now I am able to confirm that they were also produced in Merced California starting in April 1973.

"An article in the March 26, 1973 edition of the Modesto Bee stated that in March of 1973 DiGiorgio bought a 176,000  sq. foot cannery to use for the production of up to 7,000 RVs, to include travel trailers, campers and motor homes. The article also stated that all the company’s brand names, including Bell, Caveman, Californian, Siesta and Road Runner would be produced at the new plant. Hmm… The article said including. Does that mean there are others besides the ones mentioned? Makes you wonder…

"So, to some of you that’s not much but to us that have a DiGiorgio Leisure product, it’s history. It adds to what we know of DiGiorgio and the RVs they produced. It gives us something to talk about when we’re with other vintage travel trailer enthusiasts. It makes us an expert, so to speak, on our campers. By the way, RV was never a term used in the 60s or the 70s. The most popular term then was just, camper."
Source: http://rollinintheyears.com/blog/?p=428

"Road Runner Travel Trailers were built by a Rancher in Ephraim Utah. I believe the company name is something like L & M. He built the first one for himself & his friends and family loved it so much they got him to build one for them. During that process he realized there was a market for them. They are very well built and insulated to be used during hunting season in the fall when it’s starting to get cold. I live in Montana. I have a 1971 Road Runner and love it. Ours is only about 14′ but my husband & I and 4 dogs do a lot of quality camping in my “old girl” and I use her a couple of times a month on Sisters on the Fly events, camping, fishing, riding & just generally enjoying life & the greatest “Sisters” in the world. Road Runners are usually easily identified by the “arrow” painted on the side. Mine is black. I’ve seen them in hunter green, barn red, and charcoal. My little trailer has a porcelain potty which I assume was a factory upgrade. I’ve seen some with the room and no potty. Great little trailer."

"I also have a Road Runner but mine is a 1971. Love it. I belong to Sisters on the Fly and every year we take our trailers to Cabellas in Billings Montana and do trailer tours for their Ladies Day Out promotion getting women out doors recreating. An older gentleman approached me very excited the I have a Road Runner and proceeded to tell me that they were built by a Utah rancher. He built the first one for himself to use during hunting season so he built it very sturdy and insulated it well. His friends and family all wanted one and eventually he started building them and selling them through his favorite RV dealerships. If you do a google search for 1971 Road Runner Travel Trailer and click on the images, look for one with a cow hide run in front of it with a white wood rocking chair, that’s my girl, High Desert Darlin’. We have a great time camping, fishing, horse back riding all over Montana, Wyoming & Idaho. I run into lots of folks who have a Road Runner or did have a Road Runner and they all loved them. I am trying to find a good picture of the original Logo so I can have a sign maker create a vinyl die cut for me to re-install my logos front & back. Mine are a little crumbly. The guy I bought mine from kept her in a barn for 10 years so I have no water damage at all and we work really hard to keep her that way. We also keep her in a barn. Enjoy your Road Runner, it is a really well built trailer and if cared for should give you years of outdoor enjoyment."
Source: Devery Willis, http://rollinintheyears.com/blog/?p=428, comments section

"L & M Trailer MFG was the company name in Ephraim, UT. Harry Moisier was the “M” in the company. He started 60’s. I worked there in 71 and 72, just as Digiorgio Co. was buying them out. The name Roadrunner was attached to every trailer and camper we built. The only differentiation was the size. 13′, 15′, 17′, 19. 25′,27′ and a camper to fit in the bed of an 8′ pickup, both with and without toilet. The different models didn’t have a name, except for a contest was held for a 12′ model which they named the Coyote……get it???? Coyote and Road Runner. One of the management who worked there still lives here in Fairview, Ut. if you need anymore help."
Source: Dave Larsen, http://rollinintheyears.com/blog/?p=428, comments section

"Roadrunner is 100% sure the make NOT the model. I was a dealer for them in the 60’s."
Source: Clark, http://rollinintheyears.com/blog/?p=428, comments section

A restoration company that has worked on some roadrunners suggested "ordering a CD from trailer historian Juergen Eichermueller of trailer brochures for your era from this website (http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com/html/vintage_trailer_cd_collections.htm) If you tell him what model you have he usually include extra info on it if he has any". I may contact him at some point. I would be nice to get a PDF copy of the original owner's manual if he has one.

3. Archived Newspaper Articles

I also found the following archived newspaper articles about The L&M Manufacturing Company, the original makers of the RoadRunner in Ephraim, UT:


  • Ads:
  • Times Independent, 1973-03-29, p. 3 ad for trailers for sale with prices
    https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=20452243
    Manti Messenger, 1973-05-03 Untitled
    https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=5749248
  • Manti Messenger, 1973-06-07 Industrialist Named for Honorary Degree
    https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=5749652
  • The RoadRunner Coyotie (yes it is spelled that way) is introduced and custom decal
    Manti Messenger, 1973-09-27 Wins $200 in L&M Contest [ PDF ]
    https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=5750711
  • Manti Messenger, 1973-01-25 L & M Trailers Are on Display  [ PDF ]
  • Salt Lake Tribune, 1968-03-10 New Industry Aids Sanpete, Sevier Economic Outlook
    Relevant Excerpt: "...That's the agony of central Utah Making a living isn't easy. And a young man had better seek his fortune elsewhere. For though the counties have been scratching tooth and nail to get new industry, the sum total of all their present industry could be absorbed by the Wasatch Front with scarcely a ripple. By any reckoning, however, things are looking better. In 1960 a former North Dakotan Harry Mosher. and three employes' began manufacturing travel . trailers in an old cannery building near Ephraim. Now L&M Trailer Manufacturing Co and Harry Mosher has 100 employees looks forward to record sales of $2,300,000 in 1968 and a worrying about: "How to hold down . . .There is a point of diminishing returns."" 
  • Deseret News, SNOW COLLEGE TO DEDICATE TEED CENTER
    • Relevant Excerpt: "...buildings that have gone from vegetable canneries to travel-trailer factories to educational facilities....
      It had its beginning in 1914, when the newly organized Ephraim Sanitary Canning Co. built a plant "across the tracks" on the west side of Ephraim. Its principal product was peas, but it also canned corn, beans and some row crops like carrots.
      In 1927, the plant became a member of the Rocky Mountain Packing Co. family. Later it was sold to Hunt's Food and shortly thereafter was closed.
      The machinery was removed, the doors were locked and the building stood empty - a fading relic, a sad reminder of the years when Sanpete Valley farmers had a cash crop that paid their bills and gave their kids summer employment.
      On a cold December day in 1960, the building's future took a turn for the better. Equipped with a few tools, considerable know-how and a little capital, Harry Mosher and a friend moved into the dingy ground floor of the old cannery and built their first travel trailer.
      They called it the Roadrunner.
      The Roadrunner prospered. It soon outgrew the ground floor of the cannery. More land was acquired, buildings were constructed, the market expanded, the payrolls grew.
      Roadrunners were seen on highways all over the West. The founders somehow had the perception or good luck to get into the business in the heyday of what a writer has called "the travel-trailer age."
      The Entwistle Corp., a Boston-headquartered firm also manufacturing trailers and wanting to develop a Western market, took over the Roadrunner plant.
      The Entwistle expansion program didn't work out. America's appetite for travel trailers had vastly diminished: By 1981, the machinery stood idle, the payroll gone and the "For Sale" sign in place.
      Snow College entered the scene in 1982, and its administrators foresaw an expanded role for the college - a vocational education program that would train the area's youth for the job market.
      The state didn't have the money to finance a full-fledged voc-ed program. It especially didn't have the money for a major building program.
      Seeing the "For Sale" signs at the trailer plant, the office building and the sturdy cement buildings, college administrators decided the complex could be converted to educational uses.
      After a week of negotiations, Entwistle agreed to a "bargain basement" price of $600,000 for a property valued at several million.

      The site is now called the west campus. The old, blue-painted cannery building is long gone. Tulips and daffodils are in bloom around the grounds. And the buildings that once turned out thousands of cases of canned peas and later hundreds of trailers bearing the Roadrunner logo will now turn out students."
      Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/157114/SNOW-COLLEGE-TO-DEDICATE-TEED-CENTER.html
  • For the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti, UT, "Portable restrooms in 40 ft. trailers were manufactured by L. & M. Trailer company in Ephraim, with Jay Cluff as engineer. These replaced chemical units that had proved unsatisfactory. Four trailers, each containing 15 units with flush toilet, individual booths, wash basins and power ventilators were built. Two inch lines brought water to these units, and sewage facilities were connected." Source: http://mormonmiracle.org/history/

  • Sponsored ad in the 1970 Snow College Snowonian Yearbook (Ephraim, UT).
    http://issuu.com/snowlibrary/docs/1970, pg. 163.


3.5 DiGiorgio Leisure Products


https://trademarks.justia.com/owners/di-giorgio-leisure-products-inc-2128770/



ROADRUNNER Trademark info:

ROADRUNNER - Trademark Details
Status: 710 - Cancelled - Section 8

Serial Number: 80999924
Registration Number: 0999924
Word Mark: ROADRUNNER
Status: 710 - Cancelled - Section 8
Status Date: 1981-05-12
Registration Number: 0999924
Registration Date: 1974-12-17
Mark Drawing: 1000 - Typeset: Word(s)/letter(s)/number(s) Typeset

Classification Information
US Class Codes: 019
Class Status Code: 2 - Sec. 8 - Entire Registration
Class Status Date: 1981-05-12
Primary Code: 019

Trademark Events
Event Date Event Description
1981-05-12 CANCELLED SEC. 8 (6-YR)
https://trademarks.justia.com/809/99/roadrunner-80999924.html

And this:

Image Trademark with Serial Number 80981870
Status: 710 - Cancelled - Section 8

Serial Number: 80981870
Registration Number: 0981870
Word Mark--
Status: 710 - Cancelled - Section 8
Status Date: 1980-10-28
Registration Number: 0981870
Registration Date: 1974-04-09
Mark Drawing: 2000 - Illustration: Drawing or design without any word(s)/letter(s)/ number(s) Typeset

Classification Information
US Class Codes: 019
Class Status Code: 2 - Sec. 8 - Entire Registration
Class Status Date: 1980-10-28
Primary Code: 019

Trademark Events
Event Date Event Description
1980-10-28 CANCELLED SEC. 8 (6-YR)
1980-10-28 CANCELLED SEC. 8 (6-YR)

https://trademarks.justia.com/809/81/n-a-80981870.html

This tag is from a different trailer a 1971 Siesta, but from DiGiorgio who bought RR's in 1974 (at least that's the year when  they registered the RR trademark). So you can see what their logo looked like.



Source: https://www.facebook.com/rosinka/media_set?set=a.10150500422102879.378259.680842878&type=1&l=22dc6f9039

4. Identifying a vintage RoadRunner Travel Trailer 

Identifying these old campers can be puzzling sometimes (but also fun to research and figure out). Unless it's the obvious big companies like the Airstream or Shasta which are so iconic and easy to tell, there were so many different companies back then, and many small ones, too. Most of them had pretty distinctive tell-tale features to set them apart from their competitors so that helps.

The RoadRunners (by L&M Manufacturing Co, the ones this site is about) all had some consistent and distinctive features that identify it as such. Some camper makes/models change a lot over the years, but RoadRunners (by L&M) didn't vary their features much over the years except for length.

Shape

  • RR's are more boxy and don't have that rounded all around "canned ham" look.
  • The flat roof,
  • Slightly rounded at the top ends (front and back),
  • Straight slant inward to the bottom (front and back),


Aluminum panels

  • quilted aluminum panels on the sides of the front windows. 
Logo:
Windows
  • Jalousies windows. Not sure fully yet: earlier to mid 60s had  with older jalousies with three to four horizontal panes by Hehr, like in my 65. Late 60's like  Steven Hartline's '68 has those two pane horizontal windows, with a different cranking mechanism. Does Hehr make those different manufacturer? I'm not sure if they stayed with that style or if experimented and went back to the originals. Need to verify this....
  • The 3-5 paned louvered windows went up to 1967 before RR switched to the two-paned louvered windows in 1968 with the different crank mechanism. 
  • All RoadRunners had rear windows though. (Most vintage campers do, too, but some don't).
Paneling
Step

  • There is a Roadrunner in the dots on the tread of the step.


Title
  • "ROAG" (ROAG is a code for RoadRunner's used in vehicle titles/DMV--our 65 has it on our title)

5. Finding and Decoding Your VIN

6-digit VIN should be on the right side (passenger side of car) of the tongue.

The first two numbers are the length of the trailer in feet from bumper to hitch. For example in the pictures below. the first is a 12' trailer (year as of yet unknown) and the second is a 17' trailer (1965).

12 8 404
17 7 933

We haven't figured out what the middle single number and last three numbers indicate other than likely the what number it was in line of manufacture (aka serial number). So far there's no correlation of these numbers to the year of manufacture.




6. Other RoadRunner's: Same name, different company. And RR anomalies 

In this Oregon DOT document "DMV TITLE AND REGISTRATION HANDBOOK Chapter N: Model, Makes, & Body Styles: Trailers & Camper" it identifies three different Roadrunner trailers.
http://www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv/docs/chapter_n.pdf?ga=t

  • Road Runner...................... ROADR
  • Road Runner Mfg Co Inc ...... RODR
  • Roadrunner Fabrication Inc ...RORF

I'm assuming the second one is the trailers featured on this site because of the name similar to "L&M Mfg Co"). Or maybe they are ""Cavco Industries originated as a truck camper and travel trailer manufacturer, operating as an unincorporated association named Roadrunner Manufacturing Company. Founded in 1965, the company took the name Cavalier Manufacturing the following year. Cavalier began custom mobile home production in 1969, selling its products wholesale through dealerships in Arizona. Mobile home production became the sole focus of the company in 1973, when the original product lines were discontinued."
Sources: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/74/Cavco-Industries-Inc.html
http://getfilings.com/o0000950153-96-001102.html

The first and third may refer to the following two:






This is a more modern "Road Runner" RV/camper made by a different company, Sun Valley, Elkhart, IN (established 2000 and continued until?). This brand is usually written with in text Road Runner (though not in the logo) as two separate words, whereas the original vintage RoadRunner is written as one word in both text and logo.










Roadrunner Travel Trailers, Elizabethton, TN.
Couldn't find anything online or in newspaper archives. So I started asking FB groups in the area and libraries, chamber of commerces, and historical societies in the area. One gentleman, was kind enough to dig around and found this clue:

"I have been able to dig up a small amount of information concerning your inquiry. There was indeed a company called Roadrunner Trailers that existed in Elizabethton during the timeframe you specified. All I have found out is that it did exist and was located somewhere on State Line Road in Elizabethton. My guess is that it was somewhere near the current Snap-on Tools facility."
—Rusty Melton, Founder of Carter County History (http://www.cartercountyhistory.com/)


"The 1969 Elizabethton City Directory lists 1 Camping Trailer Manufacturer. Elizabethton Enterprises located at 518 Hattie Ave."
518 Hattie Ave. as of Sept. 2017
Lacenda Laws Phillips, Carter County, TN Histories and Families Facebook Group.







Not sure but I believe they were in the old ice plant in Elizabethton. Also produced truck camper covers there. If you could locate Sonny Or Jerry Pierce one of them can tell you for sure what was in that building. Their dad Earl and Sonny shared the building for automotive work.


--Don Bowers, Carter County, TN Histories and Families Facebook Group.









Elizabethton Enterprises, Inc. is a Tennessee Corporation For-Profit filed on December 19, 1966 . The company's filing status is listed as Inactive - Dissolved (Administrative) and its File Number is 000010087. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Wayne Zollinger and is located at 2230 S Roan St, Johnson City, TN 37601. The company's principal address is 2230 S Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601 and its mailing address is 2230 S. Roan St., Johnson City, TN 37601.
—https://www.bizapedia.com/tn/elizabethton-enterprises-inc.html

9-19-17 i contacted him on FB messenger: https://www.facebook.com/wayne.zollinger.9
Hi Mr. Zollinger, I am doing some research on Elizabethton Enterprises, Inc., which I believe manufactured Roadrunner Travel Trailers in the 60s. However, there is almost nothing online about them, with the exception that is of your name that came up in conjunction with them. If you are the same person, would you be open to me learning from you anything you can share about the company and/or the campers?

My interest in this began as I belong to a small group of Roadrunner enthusiasts, but the ones that were built by L&M Mfg in Ephraim, UT during the same era. Two people recently joined our group with Roadrunner trailers that clearly are not the same make. One of them, fortunately, had "Elizabethton, Tennessee" as part of the logo which got my interest piqued and the research started.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Best, Jonathan


----
contact her for pix and also share what I've found
Jill Davis says:
I recently bought a 1967 ROADRUNNER and the logo has Elizabethton, TN below the roadrunner bird. Does anyone know of this one? Was there more than one manufacturer with that name? I have never found a picture of one just like mine. It’s a 12ft.
Thanks! Jill

9-19-17 I wrote: Hi Jill, I am currently researching info on the Roadrunner Travel Trailers that were manufactured by Elizabethton Enterprises, Inc. There is even way less about them than there are the RR's from L&M (like on this page, and like the one I have). I have two people on our RR FB page that recently have shared they have one like yours and I am researching and will be happy to share my findings with you. Could you send pix of yours to aid in this endeavor? My email is jonathan@marriageenvy.com and our FB group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/451753901855019/. Hope you get this message :-)



Leads:

Shirley Wright Pierce and her husband Sonny Pierce, Elizabethton,
https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethtonStar/posts/659437024091005

Eddie Shirley, 81, Sonny Pierce, 80, and 24 veterans from other counties attending the Honor Flight Fall 2013 trip came together for a meet-and-greet event held ... LINK NO GOOD

Sonny Earl Pierce
Also known as Sonny Joel Pierce

Age 84
Lives in Elizabethton, TN
Used to live in —
Related to Ann W Pierce, Chris J Pierce, Earl D Pierce
157 Coal Chute RD, Elizabethton, TN 37643
(423) 543-2084

???? unknown trailer type, but seller was in Elizabethton, TN
http://www.usedcarunder10k.com/detail/Vintage-camper-travel-trailer-Glamping-Canned-Ham_142110808152.html 

Owner: Jen Murphy

There's also this one that puzzles us. It's clearly not a RR by L&M Manufacturing in Ephraim, UT, which is what all the ones on this site are. But it is vintage (1966, 12') and it does say, in two locations on the trailer, "Roadrunner Travel Trailers." The logo is very different and the camper style is very different. So far, we haven't found another like it nor have we been able to identify properly where it was made or what company--if there's another RR company from the same era. Hmmm...
Original thread: https://www.facebook.com/groups/451753901855019/permalink/466629530367456/



Another one like one above, says it's a 1966 Roadrunner. This was the only pic left on the eBay ad as it had sold and the rest of the pix were gone unfortunately. 







Looks like a RR, title says it is a 1970 RR. Owner Joyce Mitchell


Underneath it you can see it says "Elizabethton, Tennessee." 






Jonathan D. Sherman Been searching online newspaper archives for Elizabethton, TN area and can't find anything yet. Local libraries may have their own micofilm archives with more complete info, but you'd have to contact them directly I suppose. I asked to join a few Elizabethon FB groups and when accepted I'll ask if any locals know anything. I really don't like not knowing! ;-)


Hi all! Thanks for the add. This may be an unusual request: I'm wondering if any of you know of a company from Elizabethton that manufactured Roadrunner Travel Trailers in the 1960s and early 70s? There is nothing online anywhere I can find, so I thought I'd go straight to the source and reach out to the good local folk of Elizabethton itself. I'm trying to help a friend identify her vintage trailer and in this pic you can just make out under the faded logo "Elizabethton, Tennessee." Thank you in advance for your time and any info or leads you may have for us. :-)



  • The shape is right... mostly, but not quite, huh? 
  • The door isn't one I've seen on any RRs'
  • the interior layout, appliances, and cabinetry aren't typical RR.
  • The alum siding is also not typical RR. 
  • Looks like original paint, but no trademark RR arrow/feather. 
  • Also lacks the quilted alum panels on side of front windows.
This person thinks they have a RR, but it's not an L&M. Could it be one of the Elizabethton ones?



7. Build Quality

Someone said, "Pretty flimsy how these things were made. Its surprising they are still on the road."

Deceptively flimsy. They were actually made with a balance between being both as light as possible and as sturdy as possible--considering further that they had to withstand being bounced and jounced around on and off road.. Same trade off with any old trailer. Many consider the RR's more sturdily built than the Shastas and others of same era. Considering so many of these 50+ year-old trailers are working with little to no upkeep over the years says quite a bit to how sturdy they in reality are.

Comments

  1. I have some possible info on the one above that puzzles you. With the odd logo and have been looking for info myself.
    I just bought one. The original title states
    “1964 Zollinger roadrunner 15S”
    same as above but the front window on mine is different

    ReplyDelete
  2. Any interest in the Roadrunner motor homes? I have a 1978 built by L&M...

    ReplyDelete

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