Why these dudes went on a road trip

Published by Darron Toy on

It’s impossible to know, but this is probably
Henry Ford’s head. And this? This is definitely Henry Ford washing up by
a stream. Starting in 1915, these four men camped and
road tripped together, regularly: Lemme show you. You’ve got John Burroughs — imagine somebody
as famous as Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson, but for nature. There’s tire magnate Harvey Firestone, Henry
Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, and Thomas Edison, America’s most famous inventor. This group’s adventures took two American
classics and brought them to a whole new level: The road trip and the publicity stunt, too. You could get lost in John Burroughs beard. Burroughs is the least likely of this road
trip group, but he’s kind of the linchpin. He was conservation elite. Here’s his beard and Teddy Roosevelt at
Yellowstone in 1903. He knew the environmental implications of
industry. When the Model T came out in 1908, he called
it a “demon on wheels.” So Henry Ford sent him one. They became friends. This is John Burroughs inside his demon on
wheels. Ford had long known Edison as his mentor,
and Firestone was a natural fourth from the tire connection. The group started roadtripping together and
they called themselves “The Vagabonds.” Hijinks ensued. Yep. Henry Ford just climbed a tree. After driving over primitive roads, they communed
with nature, following a typical routine: Burroughs went for long walks, Firestone read,
Edison napped, and Henry Ford, well, he chopped wood. He really hated wood. Along their routes, they met other inventors
and business titans who occasionally tagged along. According to one essay by a fellow road-tripper,
Thomas Edison also called Firestone and his son Harvey Jr. “dudes” for an entire trip. Now the meaning at the time is a little bit
different, because “dude” might have been a city person, or a well-dressed person. But let’s not lose site of the fact that
Thomas Edison was walking around calling Harvey Firestone “dude” when he wanted to get
his attention. They took a lot of trips. This 1918 route was typical of their regular
journeys, and the group of “great men” earned headlines everywhere they went. On this trip, they traveled throughout Virginia,
hit North Carolina, and zipped back up to Maryland. Their fun road trips were a phenomenon, like
here, when Asheville, North Carolina papers covered their arrival, visit, and departure. It was called a “trip with friends.” But it wasn’t just a normal road trip. Here’s a secret. When the most powerful men in the country
go on a road trip, they do it a little differently than everybody else. Honestly, this was glamping. They brought along a film crew with big bulky
cameras, they had chefs, and five-star service the entire time. This table? It spins. Besides delicious meals cooked in the open
air, these trips served a purpose. Newspapers reported on the Vagabonds as if
they actually were vagabonds. They said the trip showed “a fellowship
with the common man and a governing concern for the little man’s interests and welfare.” At the same time they were wrangling camera
crews to film how normal they were, they were also managing their business interests. That early 1916 trip included a meetup with
Edward N. Hurley, a businessman and the chair of the United States Shipping Board – an emergency
Naval Agency established as the United States came closer to entering World War I. In Pennsylvania, the power players conferred,
as one observer described it, to “divide up the work ahead in manufacturing.” World War One breaks out? Road trip!
Hurley came on future trips with the vagabonds as well. Ford also gobbled up land to explore steam
power and agricultural possibilities, and the group met with agriculturalists and botanists. In 1918, while on the road, Ford had been
drafted into a Senate campaign as well, which he narrowly lost. We’ll never know everything they talked
about. According to Burroughs, Ford shared his anti-semitic
conspiracy theories over late night chats. The vagabonds were camping, but they were
also making deals and running a PR campaign, highlighting each of the men's professional
interests and making them seem fun and accessible. This is Henry Ford’s toast. And that’s the thing they served up for
the public. John Burroughs died in 1921. He was 83. After his death, the trips continued. That new guy, chopping wood? It’s President Warren G. Harding. Still, even by the standards of the vagabonds,
the publicity and entourage grew too big. The road trips stopped in 1924. But the vagabonds had a lasting impact on
the American notion of the road trip and how powerful people network, even when they’re
taking naps. So was it a publicity stunt or a real road
trip with buddies? Maybe it was both. Or some third thing altogether. This is a nearly hundred year-old campfire. John Burroughs wrote an essay about the trip
and why he thought they took it. Maybe it was even true:
“We grow weary of our luxuries and conveniences. We react against our complex civilization,
and long to get back for a time to first principles. We cheerfully endure wet, cold, smoke, mosquitoes,
black flies, and sleepless nights, just to touch naked reality once more.” Hey what’s up? That was the first episode of Almanac: Road
Trip Edition, and now we’re gonna be reading some comments and we’re gonna reveal the
name of this guy, which you all helped choose in the comments to the trailer. Reading comments on the internet — it’s
not a new thing — but I’m particularly inspired by Potato Jet. He is a camera and tech vlogger and he’s
just generally hilarious and really smart. So please go check him out — he always does
this at the end of his videos and I love it, so we’re gonna try it here. I gave everybody the challenge of naming this
wavy, floaty guy: top comment by far, Chris Saunders says, “he has a name, it’s wacky
waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man.” If you don’t know, this is a Family Guy
reference. “Wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube
man.” Very funny, but I asked you all to name him,
not the writers for Family Guy, and you know I just would have called Seth McFarlane if
we needed that. Second most popular comment is actually about
Route 66. It’s from Sebastian Elytron and he says,
“That’s what the world-famous Route 66 looks like? I thought it was more glamorous.” In that trailer, I’m actually sitting on
Route 66 the whole time, so if you notice me, like, looking up a lot, it’s because
I’m worried I’m gonna be run over by a car. So there are really desolate sections like
that and then there are also unpaved sections which I also show in that trailer. You’ll learn the whole history and everything
about Route 66 in Episode four of this road trip edition. “The name of your friend: Lab Flute of Knowledge.” I have no idea what that means but thumbs
up to that. Hane Grace Yagel: “His name should be Al
Maniac, he seems like a wild one.” Alright, without further adieu let’s scroll
up to the winner. This is pretty much the second most popular
answer, it’s from ZmbrSys. “Mack! Rhymes with almanac. Lots of Mack trucks on the road.” It makes sense, it’s fun, and it’s easy
to fit it on screen, so gavel, Mack, that’s it. There’s a desk down here by the way, but
the gavel was my fist, and it hurts. Alright, so that’s it. In the next episode, I will be answering any
questions or concerns that you have about the vagabonds from this video, so drop those
below, let me know, and until then, happy glamping. Yep. I said the word glamping again. [Deep, sad sigh.]


Phil Edwards · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Hey, thanks for checking this out – it's this first of five episodes all about roads. We'll have the next one next Friday. Oh, and you can help us make more projects like this by joining the lab http://bit.ly/vox-video-membership

Mang FJ · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I'm neither from China or Hong Kong but please people need to know what's happening

Mang FJ · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Make a Video about "ThePurge" in Hong Kong.

Fraz · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Most American road trip ever

Be The Beam · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

vox gives some great content

Sabirah Gallie · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Sir David Attenborough: Am I a joke to you?

Gerald Williams · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Freedom riders!!’

Ngasiirwe Katushabe · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

7:02: So cooool😂 a whole Potato Jet shout out🔥🔥🔥🔥

Soul Vevo · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

They went on camp with 3 piece suits

Rohit Rai · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

like the harpsichord

MJ Baricua · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Someone needs to make a movie about this 4 and call it the Vagabonds Roadtrip

Rajshikhar Molasaria · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Question- Did this roadtrip boost Model-T sales???

BEAR EATING ME OMG · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Do you still make guitar amplifiers?

Luka Sarich · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Is anyone not going to point the fact that Thomas Edison isn't a inventor.

Mc Benji · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm


MikSofa :3 · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

The end of the video is basically Vox dad dissects YouTube comments

sᴡᴇᴇᴛ ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ᴛʏᴘʜᴏᴏɴ · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

– Thomas Edison

Senior Whoopy IRL · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Shout out to the DeLorean in the background, Dude! 🤙

Franklin Lovell · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

He had a few drinks

Franklin Lovell · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Very good

SamuraiKage1 · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Nothing noble about these men… They lied, cheated, minipulated, twisted their way to fame, power, and riches. The old American oligarchy.

Adaark Isaac Carmona · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

This video is AMAZING!!!

Paul Ferzoco · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Loved it!

John Little · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

That's around the same time that Edsel Ford took a road trip to California, 1915. That'd be a great thing to show as well.

Spencer Lopes · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Yall should do a video on mauna Kea and the thirty meter telescope

ShadowPresident 420 · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I thought these two dudebros were road tripping because Edison's girlfriend went to some other college on the opposite coast. Due to some hilarious mixup, a cross country road-trip was the only solution. Needless to say, wacky and zany hijinx ensue. Hilarity does not, however, and this is pretty much your by-the-numbers college road trip flick. Wait, err… what were we talking about again?

Tomer Shetzer · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Thomas Edison: hey dudes! Who is your favorite Kardashian?

Undergroundkid · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm


Temple Chan · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Edison was not an inventor

Maverick Majorani · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Both of them were crony capitalists

Michael Johnston · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Please provide your conclusion. Mine: it was real but packaged.

syifa · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

edison is a whole mood

TooManyDoc · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I mean, I would take a nap too.

Amol Soni · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Imagine them listening to Old Town Road😂😂😂

Sincerely Eccentric · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

What was the net worth of these men? Like were they millionaires or billionaires during their time.

Rishabh Tyagi · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Because one made the car and other was just celebrating

Jodie Kirwan · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

'imagine somebody who is as famous as Neil Degrasse Tyson or Bill Nye, but for nature'
…His name is Sir David Attenborough

Animals thunder · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

the origin of bohemian grove

Cribnoob · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

The early 20th century version of Top Gear.

Evan Branham · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Imagine taking a road trip with the guy who made the car you’re riding in

Evan Branham · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Thomas Edison- America’s most famous inventor

Ben Franklin- Am I a joke to you

Hokky M. · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Edison is not an inventor!!!! He stole everything that he claimed as his “invention”.

bartonfang · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Welp, when you are so rich, reality felt like being de-attached from reality.

Pizza Zombie · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Bill Nye isn't a scientist, don't compare him to Burroughs.

G awesome · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I wonder if any one the vagabonds said to henry ford…"dude, where's my car?"

Juan Mercado · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

These dudes are freemasons. They may have done satanic rituals together.

Peter B · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I want to see this as a netflix show now 😂

zah fares · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

The illuminaty gathering

Alexis D · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

"traveled through virginia…"
me, watching about 1/3rd of that route going through completely different state WEST virginia: right,

Patrick Cruz · July 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

This Has to be made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman as Edison….because you know…2019.

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