Watch a 1947 Home Video of an Ohio Family’s Road Trip to California

What did the Vaughans see during their 1947 family vacation? Practically everything.
1947 16mm Film Home Movie - ROAD TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
1947 16mm Film Home Movie - ROAD TRIP TO CALIFORNIA / peahix

In the summer of 1947, the Vaughan family of Cleveland, Ohio, road-tripped all the way to California, capturing the adventure on 16-millimeter film. 

Seventy-five years later, YouTube user peahix, with permission from Vaughan family member Llyswen Vaughan Franks, posted a digitized, high-definition version of the home video on YouTube. It’s a stunning look at what a family vacation was like during an era we’re used to seeing in still photos and Hollywood dramatizations.

It’s also an extraordinary look at some of North America’s most iconic vistas and tourist spots. The Vaughans pass through Buffalo Bill’s hometown of North Platte, Nebraska; and pull over in Buford, Wyoming, to see the tree that seemingly grows out of a rock. In Leggett, California, they drive beneath a hollowed-out redwood known as the Drive-Thru Tree. Mount Rushmore makes an appearance, naturally, as does the Golden Gate Bridge.

The stars of the show are the numerous national parks they visit, including Bryce Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, and Yellowstone (whose geysers don’t hold back). Plenty of animals make appearances over the course of the trip, from wild coyote cubs and rattlesnakes at a roadside zoo to the sea lions of Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves. The Vaughans also observe bears from mere feet away, both parties seemingly unfazed by the proximity. They even go to the beach—Laguna Beach, to be exact, which is much less crowded than you’d expect for mid-July.

The video has no sound, but you can always soundtrack it yourself with a playlist of hits from 1947.

Watch More Historical Videos: