In 1923, Grants Pass claimed to have invented the auto camp, based on Chamber of Commerce records showing the first camp opened in May 1915.
As a boost to tourism, the Chamber had rented 4 ½ acres of Rogue River frontage and cleared it of brush -- the present-day site of Riverside Park. The first visitors came from Yakima, Wash., when the camp was nothing more than a vacant lot. The camp was free, and a committee cleaned up after visitors. That first year averaged about seven campers a night.
By 1923, camp improvements included 12 cottages, each with a wood stove filled with kindling, a bed, table and chairs, electric hot plate, electric lights, and water. Each tourist enjoyed free hot-and-cold showers, sanitary lavatories, and bathhouse privileges. A 24-by-36-foot community room offered space for visits with other travelers and for writing letters and reading.
The improved camp had space for 100 visitors at $1 a night for cottages and half that for campers to help pay for law enforcement.
Camp superintendent Joe Ferguson ran a small store on the premises.
Source: Springfield News, page 7, August 14, 1923, Springfield, Ore. Accessed at Josephine County Historical Society's clipping file.