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September 2013 Trail's End

Posted in Features on July 27, 2013
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Photographers: Four Wheeler Archives

Since this is a special camping issue, it seemed appropriate to take a gander at a fascinating story that appeared in the October 1962 issue of Four Wheeler. Spencer Murray wrote a piece about his quest to drive to the remote town of El Golfo, Mexico. One would think it would be no big deal, but at the time the town wasn’t listed on many maps and the area was desolate, with no roads. To illustrate how remote the town was, Murray wrote that inhabitants of the nearest village to El Golfo didn’t know how to get to it or if the town actually existed. He says in the story that he had tried for eight years to reach the town, in passenger car, pickup truck, and dune buggy, with no luck. “We’ve been lost in the desert, stuck in the sand, and otherwise hopelessly prevented from reaching the strangely evasive town, he said.”

Success came behind the wheel of a ’62 Dodge W-200 four-door, four-wheel-drive truck. The truck was powered by a 318ci V-8 engine and was equipped with an “engine-driven” winch and a four-speed manual transmission. The transmission had a compound gear that gave the option of eight forward and two reverse gears. In lieu of a cargo bed, the truck was fitted with a Roll-A-Long Sportster camper that provided what was probably the best of what 1962 had to offer in regards to comfort and convenience.

We’ve been lost in the desert, stuck in the sand, and otherwise hopelessly prevented from reaching the strangely evasive town.

Murray wrote that to get to El Golfo they piloted the Dodge down 46 miles of tough trails, “gingerly laboring” the truck in and out of sandy washes and over outcroppings of decomposed granite. He said that sometimes he had to use the trucks low gear and sometimes he had to use compound four-wheel drive. This is not surprising, considering how heavy the rig must have been. There were numerous forks in the lengthy trail, but he found that they all seemed to rejoin the main trail eventually. Ironically, he made the trip without becoming stuck until he was in the main “intersection” of El Golfo, where the big Dodge became mired in the sand.

In the end, Murray wrote that El Golfo offered little to the wanderer except a “questionable meal.” Nonetheless, he wrote that it did offer a goal for the adventurous desert traveler who must always simply avoid a good road to reach a place of habitation without losing face by traversing graded or paved streets. He also urged readers to get to El Golfo “before the roadbuilding crew spoils all the remoteness.”

Reading this story got us thinking. Do you have a 4x4 that’s set up for camping? Maybe it’s a pickup with a slide-in camper. Or maybe it’s a van. Or maybe it’s an old motorhome or school bus that you outfitted with four-wheel drive. If you have a 4x4 rig that’s set up for camping, send an email to and tell us about it and where you’ve been with it. We’d love to hear about it. Please attach a photo if you have one.

Camping and 4x4s go together like a ring-and-pinion. Moreover, they’re as interconnected today as they were in 1962, even though most towns have roads to ’em nowadays.

October 1962 Four Wheeler Print Story "El Golfo"

For this month's installment, we included the original story in it's entirety for your reading enjoyment!

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