Historic Camp Cookery

“Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.”  -Jack Handey

The camping season has come to a close for us.  it is a sad time.  We spend time inside, close to each other for warmth of body and soul.  We watch the sun come up late and go down early.  We brace for 3-4 feet of snow.  We make holiday plans and cookies to go with those plans.  Even with cooler to cold weather outside, I still can’t stop wanting to go camping.  I spend time reading blogs about camping, watching National Geographic films about various natural wonders, and making plans for my next big camp trip.  This has brought me to scouring the internet in search of new and old camping information.

One of my favorite resources on the web is the US Library of Congress.  I was invited to the Library in 2009 where I met some geeky librarians (I love geeky librarians) who have shoveled information my direction for the past 2 years.  A lot of what they have sent me to sort through influenced the “Historic Camping and Teardrop Trailer” film and a lot of it I simply haven’t had time to look at yet.  In search of the next pictoral learning moment, I have spent considerable time looking at camp cookery on the Libary of Congress website (www.loc.gov).  In my browsing, I have made a short collection of my favorite camp cookery photos.  This collection has grown to such scale that I thought I might share it with my readers so you can enjoy seeing camp cookery from the past too.  The wonderful part of this is that these historic scenes are still played out across the landscapes of the world today.

It is nice to see something remain somewhat the same throughout time.  Sure the technology of cookery has changed but some of us are old school.  A fire, a cast iron pot and pan, and a healthy appitite.  Camp food is always the best because it is made with an infusion of love, nature, and sometimes personal trauma.  These are my thoughts as I sit comfortably in my house wanting to be hunkered over a fire pit like the people in some of these photos.

As a contrast, I have tossed in some of my favorite modern camp cook photos at the end just so we can see on one page, how little has changed.  Hopefully, you are now as inspired as I am to set a portion of my back yard on fire and start cooking over it.  Cheers!!

Camping party of men and women cooking at campfire and eating near tent in Indian Henry, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
Camping party of men and women cooking at campfire and eating near tent in Indian Henry, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington. Between 1911-1920
Outdoor Kitchen. Stove in foreground and cooking utensils. Near Old Trap, North Carolina. July 1940
Outdoor Kitchen. Stove in foreground and cooking utensils. Near Old Trap, North Carolina. July 1940
N.Y. Nat'l Guard, 2/21/15 - camp cooking
N.Y. Nat’l Guard, 2/21/15 – camp cooking
Migrant worker cooking meal over campfire, Edinburg, Texas. 1939
Migrant worker cooking meal over campfire, Edinburg, Texas. 1939
African Americans cooking in campsite, deer hanging from tree and an antelope lying by tent. 1909
Cooking in campsite, deer hanging from tree and an antelope lying by tent. 1909
Camp cook working over an open fire, cattle ranch near Spur, Texas. May 1939.
Camp cook working over an open fire, cattle ranch near Spur, Texas. May 1939.
The Way they cook dinner in camp. 1861-1865
Boy Scouts cooking over open fire at Camp Ranachqua. 1919.
Boy Scouts cooking over open fire at Camp Ranachqua. 1919.
Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone assisting two chefs by peeling potatos at a Ford-Edison camping trip
Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone assisting two chefs by peeling potatos at a Ford-Edison camping trip
Preparing the mess. 1861-1865
Preparing the mess. 1861-1865
Fort Sam Houston, Tex., 1911-1912: portable army bake shop in camp
Fort Sam Houston, Tex., 1911-1912: portable army bake shop in camp
"Hunting Deer." A deer hunt near Deadwood in winter 1887 and 1888. Two miners McMillan and Hubbard got their game.
“Hunting Deer.” A deer hunt near Deadwood in winter 1887 and 1888. Two miners McMillan and Hubbard got their game.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Cherries - Dennis Wilkenson
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Cherries – Dennis Wilkenson
Dutch Oven - Jon Osborne
Dutch Oven – Jon Osborne

Whole Grain Cinnamon Raisin Bread (in cast iron) - Susy Morris
Whole Grain Cinnamon Raisin Bread (in cast iron) – Susy Morris
Camping In Maine - Susy Morris
Camping In Maine – Susy Morris
fritatta - Amber Karnes
fritatta – Amber Karnes
Thanksgiving Dinner - summitcheese
Thanksgiving Dinner – summitcheese
la gran comilona - Paula Rey
la gran comilona – Paula Rey

 

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