The group posed with rifles in the Sonoma redwoods. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

The Merry Tramps of Oakland: California’s original glampers

More than a century and a quarter before the word glamping earned an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, a boisterous group of women were camping in style in the wildlands of California. Beginning in the 1880s, as John Muir was captivating the nation with his writings on the “inventions of God,” the Merry Tramps of Oakland set off for Mount Shasta, Yosemite, and the San Gabriels “in beautifully appointed Pullman cars with enormous suitcases, fine liquors, and comfortable bedding,” wrote Dan White his camping history “Under the Stars.”

Thankfully, the Tramps included a talented photographer named Frank Rodolph among their ranks (men were also allowed) who took copious pictures. See some favorites from the Rodolph archive below.

A makeshift dressing room along a river in Sonoma County. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)
A camp in the Sonoma redwoods. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)
Grandma’s tent in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1887. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)
Doing the washing among the redwoods. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)
The Tramps employed Chinese cooks and lugged kitchen equipment. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)
A camper carried a musical instrument during a trip to Mount Shasta. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

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