The early cabin was an attempt to make the auto camp less susceptible to the effects of bad weather. Warren Belasco describes these early cabins and their evolution:

Many cabins were little more than wooden tents with dirt floors. Autocampers provided their own cots, chairs and camp stoves. Other facilities differed little from regular camps: community toilets, showers, and, occasionally, a central kitchen. At fifty to seventy cents a night, these shacks were intended for emergencies. Yet they proved popular in good weather as well. Still more popular were the slightly more elaborate units that, at one dollar a night, furnished a simple iron bed with a straw stuffed mattress, a few benches, a table, a water pitcher and a bowl, and perhaps a coin operated gas plate. These places often filled up before dark. This was a real breakthrough, marking the end of autocamping and the beginning of the motel industry" (Belasco, 131).



These cabins and cottages grew in popularity because of their obvious appeal to an automobile driving public. As they were usually located on the outskirts of large towns and cities, they saved the potential guest the hassle of city traffic. The adjacent parking facilitated the guest's unloading his or her own car. These accommodations suited the family travelling together. This was in sharp contrast to both the female centered resort or the male centered urban hotel" (Belasco, 131). The homey kitchenette or the informal cafe as opposed to the formal hotel or resort dining room, the easy registration as oppose to the hotel guest book, were all suited to the informality of a post Victorian America. The lower rates when compared to a hotel appealed to a depression era public. Belasco explains the finances of these early cabins:
Cottages had [low] overhead expenses. Generally located on outlying property with lower tax rates, these family run businesses financed improvements with cash, not mortgages. A touring family of four [in the mid 30s] could rent two "deluxe" double cabins for a dollar per person -- half the hotel rate for comparable accommodations. If they brought towels and sheets they could save another twenty-five cents a head. For an extra quarter they could rent dishes and kitchen privileges and save the three or four dollars that a hotel meal would cost" (Belasco, 140).




The aesthetic of the early cottage and cabin was deliberately domestic. Proprieters provided their guests with a "home away from home." Warren Belasco credits women with much of this early success. He also points out the women's power as consumers:
The woman's role was particularly important. While hotels were run by and for men, a [cabin] camp had to be run by a married couple for practical and aesthetic reasons. Husbands built and improved cabins, screeened "deadbeats" and wives usually managed the daily business...Unlike the male atmosphere of commercial hotels, cabin camps displayed a distinctive woman's touch: chintz curtains, doilies on the dresser, rockers, flower boxes. Such homelike extras were said to put the traveling women at ease, and this was essential in attracting the family trade. In explaining the rapid advance in camp plumbing and furniture from 1925-1940, operators generally cited the woman traveler as the key influence" (131).