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California’s energy problem and the soft national economy could throw a monkey wrench into the plan for California to buy the RV and camping memorabilia collection assembled by RV industry spokesman and historian David Woodworth.

Woodworth had reached an agreement to sell his extensive collection to the California Department of Parks and Recreation so it could be exhibited in a state museum.
“But it looks like they are not going to have the funds,” Woodworth said.

“They’ve cut the 2002 tourism budget by 15%,” he said. “It might come up in the budget again in January, but if I were a betting person, I don’t think anything is going to happen.”

Woodworth, 62, of Tehachapi, Calif., said California officials already have completed a $75,000 inventory of the collection, which consists of about 2,000 items used in outdoor recreation, including portable toilets, beds that set up in cars, bathing suits, silverware, tents and other camping gear.

Woodworth’s collection, the bulk of which is from the 1920s, contains 35 RVs, including a HouseCar built in 1931 for Mae West, and a 1916 camper with three slideouts designed to fit in the back of a Model T Ford.

Currently, most of it is spread out among several museums across the country and on 11 acres that Woodworth owns in Tehachapi, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

Woodworth, a key participant in the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) public relations campaign, declined to disclose the price that California agreed to pay for his collection. The key to the agreement, he said, was that the collection would remain intact because he is not willing to break it up.

“I’ve had people who want to buy bits and parts, but I’d never do that,” Woodworth said. “If somebody wanted to do something with the whole collection, I’d sit down and have a cup of coffee with them. Money isn’t important. I would love to be able to go in with somebody and build a museum, because it is the largest collection of its kind in the United States.”